1. Can you briefly tell us about your early carrier and how you crossed paths with Turkon USA?
I previously worked as an inspector for a state-owned liner transportation/shipping company. I was sent to America for an internship and transferred to the commercial department. I served as head of liner department for eight years which included global lines, most notably the United States of America, Europe, Adriatic line, Red Sea line, Bangladesh line, and The Far East line (Japan, China, and Korea). Furthermore, I started working as a general manager for the Turkish-Libyan joint shipping company. After some time, I returned once more to Turkish Cargo Liner as an assistant general manager for commerce. After three years, Turkish Cargo Liner was taken into the scope of privatization. The part of this process, Turkon was established in 1997. Later on, we established USA Line in 1997. I was one of the founders and general manager of Turkon Line.
2. What kind of operations and activities does Turkon Line takes on in America?
We provide containerized cargo services and logistics services to the three ports on a regular basis. These ports include New York, Norfolk-Virginia and Savannah-Georgia. We transport machinery, all kinds of general cargo, and project cargo. We also use train services if there is a shipment to/from inland areas such as California, Seattle, and Chicago. Our work includes Turkey, Alexandria, a direct transit to Egypt, Israel, Beirut, the port of Piraeus, and Russia with the “FESCO Agreement” to the ports of Novorossiysk and Sochi.
3. With a fast transit time between Turkey and the United States, Turkon USA has a large market share in the sector. To what do you relate this success?
Turkon USA has a large market share in the sector, which is 36% on imports and 32% exports. Our fast transportation is critically important to the transportation of textiles because the goods are very valuable and time sensitive. Other than the speed of transportation, the most important difference between our competitors and ourselves is the direct, non-stop transportation we provide, which plays a role in the increase of our share.
4. Turkon Line started its first overseas agency, Turkon America Inc. in January 1998. What were the factors behind establishing the USA Line?
The America Line was the first line ever established. We had a negative experience with the American local agent. We feel more needs to be done in the form of a dedicated personal. If you look closely, everyone has their own local agencies and we are not the only one here. Container transportation can be a misleading industry as it has minor cost factors and therefore not entrusted to anyone. Everyone has their own local agencies now and they do their own marketing.
5. Concerning that Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa-Middle East regions will be prominent geographies for the logistics sector in the near future, does Turkon USA have any plans to expand into those regions?
We, as Turkon America, can’t plan these factors. Turkon Holding is watching the cost factors and market developments closely. In the meantime, we as Turkon America have started projects discussing regions such as Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria, and Central Asian Republics that includes a transshipment from Istanbul. We would like to develop this project with the Turkon Holding company.
6. How do you evaluate Turkey’s functional and operational infrastructures for maritime logistics compared to the other countries?
Turkey is moving very fast in terms of logistics, and is currently well-conditioned and getting better. Ports are in a very rapid progress. When it comes to the technological level of the ports of Turkey, key developments in port operations have been taking place. For instance, various ports in Turkey have faster speed of loading and unloading containers than, surprisingly, New York. However, we need to work on our infrastructure of the railroad system. Currently, it is a very weak trend in Turkey. The railroad integration needs to be harmonized with European railways, so that it can spread into more countries and we can reach the superior European level. There needs to be much improvement for establishing a transshipment port. For example, we can’t come far in terms of being the largest transfer point, like Italy and Egypt. But, Turkey's geographical location is a reason for that. Turkey is a country with a great deal of trade volume. After Italy, Turkey has the greatest potential in logistics. Also, another thing we need to work on is the customs regulations. I believe it needs to become more flexible. I find Turkey’s overall performance in the logistics industry, terminal operations, logistics centers, and storage very well.
7. What do you associate with this increase in progression?
Turkey is very developed in the logistic sector, especially transportation into Europe. Many European freight forwarder companies, specifically German companies, open up their own local offices in Turkey with modern technologies. In doing so, they bring forth important innovations to Turkey’s logistics sector. There are several logistics centers that have been established in Turkey, including warehousing. The progress of logistics movements to Europe has made Turkey much profit. When you mention a logistics company, for example, a forwarder company, Turkey comes to mind as the second largest country. Turkey has the most forwarder companies in the world, coming only second after India.
8. New changes occur in all sectors due to today’s fast technological developments and the changing customer demands related to these. How do you predict the impact of these rapid technological advancements to the future of maritime transport?
Almost all the freight information is created accordingly under the EDI (Electronic data transfer). Without any correspondence back and forth, everything is getting completed with the EDI. This is evident today in almost every sector, including forwarder-shipper and liner relationships. Technological developments help the delivering speed with respect to documentation and customs declarations. Terminal operations in the USA are in a fully developed condition. For instance, when goods are delivered to the port, a device takes a photo of the container and looks if there is any damage. In conclusion, everything is done electronically in order to save on hiring additional employees.
9. There is an increasing trend among fresh graduates towards logistics sector. How do you evaluate this new trend?
Today, the world trade volume is rising much more rapidly. Correspondingly, if we look at it from Turkey’s point of view, the logistics industry is rapidly developing in the world and container transportation is on the increase as well. Accordingly, the logistics industry needs more personnel, but technological developments might weaken these needs. I believe the demand for the logistics industry will increase even more within the next five years. The need is growing and we must take this into account. Also, it is a sector with strong upside in terms of finding a solid career path. A number of universities have been established in Turkey over the years, and Turkey is also extremely successful in training .
10. You had represented TACCI as a president before, how did you get involved with TACCI in the first place and what do you think TACCI has accomplished in recent years?
TACCI’s first establishment started with commercial attachés. We were involved in that phase with TACCI. After it was taken into the scope of privatization, I served as a president for two terms. During that time, a collaboration took place between TACCI and the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges. Although, various chambers of commerce have been established in America throughout the years, having the Office of the Commercial Attaché in our Board of Directors and also having organic ties with the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, gave us a strong competitive edge over others. It is necessary for chambers to ensure harmonization with the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges in terms of the synergy. The oldest of the chamber, TACCI, has to take the initiative.