İsmail Kunduracı, Selis Machinery: “Turkey comes in second place following China in grain processing sector in terms of exports. Figures prove this. This is a good thing. However, when we examine the added value per ton on the other hand, although we are above China, we are way behind the European countries. What we manufacture do not have high added value. In order to accomplish [high added value], we have to carry out R&D and switch to high technology. As Selis, we are moving in this direction.”
Interview: Namık Kemal Parlak
When innovation, high-tech, and sustainability are mentioned in the milling sector, Selis Machinery is one of the prominent companies that come to mind. The company established milling facilities in Turkey and in many countries for more than a half-century and exported technological machinery and equipment and the company has a prominent place in the sector with innovative solutions that it has developed thanks to its investment in the research and development. Selis contributed to the technological development of the sector by having many patents, and that’s why Selis has many awards. Recently, the company is granted the Grapas Innovation Award in ‘Technology Development Branch’ with DAPS system on June 12th, 2019 at Cologne, Germany.
İsmail Kunduracı, Chairman of Board of Selis Machinery and doyen name of the milling sector, talked to Miller Magazine about the principles that make the company so successful and the future of grain processing industry. He emphasized that there has been serious competition at home and abroad in the sector and underlined two points in the production: Quality and products with high added value. In order to realize these, Mr. Kunduracı points out two subjects: carrying out R&D and moving to high technology. “It is absolutely impossible for any firm producing poor quality goods to continue its business and be sustainable. You can be competitive in the world by producing quality, high technology, and R&D oriented new generation products. As Selis, we bring this into the forefront,” Mr. Kunduracı said.
Here are the evaluations by İsmail Kunduracı, Chairman of Board of Selis Machinery, to Miller Magazine:
Mr. Kunduracı, Selis Makina is a well-established and strong company in the milling machinery sector. Can you tell us about how Selis managed to be among the prominent companies in this sector and Selis’ place in the sector?
Selis Machinery is a family company. There are two companies: Yükseliş and Selis. Our companies were founded 55 years ago. We reached this position within 55 years experiencing different stages in the sector. We have a serious infrastructure in grain processing technologies. We have a respectable, strong, and reliable position in the sector in which many well-established companies struggle in Turkey and abroad. We are the most dynamic and innovative company in the sector. As Selis, we act with the belief that the milling is a boutique sector in terms of production. We use the highest quality equipment, materials, and labor force; we always try to keep efficiency and customer satisfaction at the forefront. Our most important goal is export. Despite the change over the years, we export 80 percent of our products on average.
Selis is a company that manufactures and develops the technology. Could you tell us about your research and development activities at this point?
As you know, this sector is not for the final consumer. We manufacture investment goods. However, technology has been developing all over the world. Likewise, there are some developments in our country. As a country and company, we do not stay behind these developments. We strive to do better. We need to make technology and R&D oriented productions. We have always been a company targeting R&D and technology. On research and development, we have been working for many years. We have been constantly working on industrial and intellectual property subjects. We own several patents. We have always been working on this issue. We believe that only in this way can our sector develop. However, we realize that there has been unfair competition in our sector just like other sectors. Unfortunately, unfair competition occurs in Turkey and abroad from time to time.
You export a bigger part of your products. Can you tell us about which region does Selis focus on and is Selis strong?
We installed facilities in many countries. Nevertheless, we export heavily to some countries and regions. The Middle East and Africa are early in the list. Similarly, we place importance to South Africa, the Balkan counties, Europe, Russia, and the Turkic countries. We have business with Latin American countries as well. Every market has its cons and pros. We believe that we should focus on a few countries rather than working in many different countries.
When we examine different international economic projection, we perceive that population and income will increase in African and South Asian countries. Also, the food consumption habit will change in these countries. Do you have any work for these regions?
Of course, there has been. We have been working on these regions. As a sector, we have an advantage in our production: We manufacture machinery used in food production. Food is the most basic requirement for people all over the world, and the world population continues to grow. According to UN estimates, the world’s population will reach 10 billion by 2050. It will require a record-breaking amount of food production to feed all these people. Therefore, the need for cereal processing technologies will continue. This seems to be an advantage to us. However, we need to keep in mind that there has been serious competition in Turkey and abroad.
What kind of global picture do we face with when we examine the grain processing sector? What do you think about Turkey’s place in this global picture?
Turkey comes in second place following China in grain processing sector in terms of exports. Figures prove this. This is a good thing. However, when we examine the added value per ton on the other hand, although we are above China, we are way behind the European countries. What we manufacture do not have high added value.
What should be done to increase this?
In order for this, we have to carry out R&D and shift to high-tech. We need to carry out some works in this regard. However, there has been a negative perception that has become widespread in this sector for our country. Recently, Turkey started to be mentioned in a similar fashion to China which is known for its imitation products. Unfortunately, we need to change our strategy in this regard. Many colleagues have to do this. What lies in this is training. We should be in the process of branding but branding cannot happen overnight. This is a matter of culture and education. If we accomplish these changes as a country and then if we possess this understanding, Turkey can realize these targets easily. As a company, we move in this direction. This approach has been entrenched in our in-house training and production system. Regardless of which sector we are talking about, those companies that can capture and interpret data will survive. Failing this, companies will disappear.
In Turkey, many companies have been active in this sector. However, I don’t believe that these companies know and analyze their costs very well. We perceive this. They sell machines with unbelievable prices. It is not possible for a company to sustain like this. Yes, the export is important. We should do this. Our sector does not have a chance other than manufacturing and selling abroad. However, if the export is not profitable and we export at a loss, this does not have any meaning. If there has been a sale at a loss, it means the exporting the capital to abroad. This is not a sustainable situation. This contributes neither to companies nor to our country.
What do your customers demand from you? What are their expectations?
There are various customer profiles from many parts of the world. Some customers are price-oriented. It is not possible for us to do business with such customers. Some customers are quality-oriented. They expect to have a quality product and quality after-sales service. As a company, we focus on this type of customer profile.
What makes Selis different from its competitors in the sector?
Any company that manufactures a product of poor quality cannot continue to work and be sustainable. In fact, all investors want quality products. However, they eye on how cheap they can purchase this quality. As I just told you, some consumers pretend to be quality-oriented although they are price-oriented. There are many examples of this. Many of the factories established based on this understanding no longer work. What happens then? We have a bad reputation as a country. Unfortunately, a “Turkish products are of poor quality” image has been spreading. High quality is a must. You can be competitive in the world trade by producing quality, high technology and R&D oriented new generation products. Turkey cannot have a future in which the price is low but the weight is too much. You can do this only via high value-added products. Only in this way can we compete and earn more comfortably. It is not possible to compete while producing the very same products for years. We believe that raising awareness by introducing new and innovative products to the market will take us even further.