The collaboration between the Heavy Plate business unit from Duisburg with Nazal Metal in Istanbul proves how rewarding teamwork with a local representative office can be.
Rushing along the Istanbul expressway, a big dump truck just cut in right in front of us. Without batting an eyelid, Halit Özarslan smoothly hits the brakes to avoid a crash. It’s all standard driving behavior around here. “Look, it’s a Tirsan,” he exclaims, “what a coincidence!” It just so happens that we’re on our way to the headquarters of Tirsan, a trailer manufacturer we’re wanting to get to know better. Tirsan has been working together with Nazal Metal, who represents thyssenkrupp Steel Europe’s Heavy Plate business here.
Özarslan worked at thyssenkrupp for more than ten years, including in the Group’s automotive business. When the Group temporarily withdrew from Turkey a few years ago, Özarslan went his own way with Nazal Metal. Since 2010, he and his wife have managed the trading company together. “I’ve been working in this sector for 30 years now,” says Özarslan as we drive through the Asian-flavored suburb of Atasehir. “Thanks to my experiences, I was able to elevate our company from the purely local business we started out with to sales on an international scale.” Today, Steel Europe’s Heavy Plate business is Nazal Metal’s most important business partner. The relationship was rekindled when the Heavy Plate business unit was looking for a cooperation partner for the Turkish market. Steel Europe had a good reputation, but business started off slow.
“After four years, we jointly managed to increase sales here from zero to 10,000 metric tons per year,” says Özarslan. “That covers about 12 percent of the entire market.” In monetary terms, that’s about 10 million euros per year. This impressive upswing is by no means coincidental. “What this demonstrates is how important it is to maintain good personal customer relationships,” says Aykut Canpolat. Canpolat traverses the globe as a customer consultant for Heavy Plate, and he knows full well how important it is to pay attention to your customers. Out of all his travels, Turkey is his favorite destination. “I grew up as a German Turk back in Duisburg. My father worked for Steel Europe before me.” Understanding the customer’s work and literally speaking the same language is crucial to Canpolat.
“When I visit a customer, I always make the time to have a look at their production first-hand,” he says. “This is the only way to reliably find out exactly what they’re processing there and how they’re doing it. I find out how processes work, what technologies are being used and what competencies are needed.” This is how the new storage concept was created with cooperation partner Askon, which allows Heavy Plate to react extremely quickly to its customers’ requirements. Furthermore, the Askon service center offers customized steel preprocessing.
If a company does not have a local branch office, a representative is needed. Still, Canpolat makes sure to visit Turkey every two months and has been visiting customers together with Nazal Metal – 20 or more per week, again and again, for three years now already. “You’ve got to be tenacious,” says Canpolat. “I’d say you’ve got to be obsessive!” adds Özarslan. “It’s not easy to infiltrate the local market, but it’s not impossible. You just don’t give up too easily.”
Thanks to the continued efforts, Heavy Plate has established itself as a business partner for five of Turkey’s biggest OEMs. These include the construction equipment manufacturer Temsa, the excavator company Hidromek, and the transporter manufacturer Tirsan. At Tirsan, the ongoing tenacity and local presence have really paid off. In order to be successful here, in-depth market knowledge is essential. This requires regular dialogue. In the case of today’s visit to Tirsan, this has resulted in the director of the Strategic Purchasing department there becoming interested in two new steel grades.