Milliyet newspaper has been selecting the “Entrepreneur of the Year” for 7 years with the cooperation of Ernst&Young. The stories of successful entrepreneurs from all around Turkey set an example not only for the entrepreneurs and those who want to be entrepreneurs in Turkey. One of these entrepreneurs will represent Turkey at the Monte Carlo “World Entrepreneur of the Year” meeting.
The selection committee of the program determined the following names as the exemplary entrepreneurs of this year: Çelebi Holding (Canan Çelebioğlu Tokgöz-Can Çelebioğlu), Gürallar Artcraft (Esin Güral Argat-Erol Güral), İnci Kundura (Ali Murat Kızıltaş), Koska (Emin Dindar) and Tekin Acar (Tekin Acar Cosmetics).
The goal of the program is not a competition among entrepreneurs. Its intention is to highlight successful entrepreneurs. I will summarize the stories of the five exemplary entrepreneurs of this year that impressed me most.
Çelebi Holding provides ground handling services in aviation. They work at 27 domestic and international airports. Their market share in Turkey is around 43 percent. They operate cargo terminals and provide ground handling services in Brussels, Frankfurt, Budapest, Bombay and Delhi. After the death of their father, who established the company in 1958,in 1982, his sons Can and Canan Çelebioğlu, 16 and 19 years old at the time, took over the company.
The brothers made the company a strong organization in Turkey and international markets.
Gürallar ArtCraft produces glassware in Kütahya. After completing their university education, Esin and Erol Güral’s children together with their father decided to establish a plant with a capacity to produce 20,000 thousand tons of glass per year. Today, with their capacity of 85,000 tons, they rank eighth among giants such as Arc, Libbey, and Paşabahçe. They manufacture important inputs and molds of glass production in their subsidiary facilities.
Inci Kundura manufactures shoes in their Esenyurt facilities. They market those shoes in 80 stores in total, under the brands of Inci and Attimo. With their special design, they export about 200,000 pairs of shoes to more than 50 countries annually.
Inci was established by Ali Murat Kızıltaş’s grandfather as a shoeshine parlor. In 1947, his father turned the parlor in Fatih into a footwear store. Ali Murat Kızıltaş, who took over the business from his father in 1987 after graduation from university, increased the number of stores.
Then, he started production of the brand Inci in 1994. In 2006, he extended the facility to produce 1 million pairs of quality shoes per year.
Koska is a hundred-year-old establishment producing, halva, Turkish delight, and candy. Adil Dindar, the son of Hacı Emin Efendi, who opened a halva shop in Denizli in 1907, continued his father’s profession in a shop in the Koska neighborhood of Istanbul in 1931, which became famous as the halva store in Koska. His children established a facility in Topkapı to produce tahini halva, Turkish delight, jam, and nougat. Currently, they produce 50 tons of halva, 20 tons of jam and 10 tons of Turkish delight in their two factories in Avcilar and Kutahya. The fourth generation, Emin Dindar, took over the business in 1992. They export to nearly 20 countries.
Tekin Acar Cosmetics is a cosmetics store chain that markets world-famous brands. It sells 20,000 kinds of cosmetic products. Its market share in Turkey is around 50 percent. This company is an exemplary initiative created out of thin air by Tekin Acar, who was born in 1953 in Erzurum, started the initiative during university education and eventually branded his name. In 1979, Acar started to sell perfumery in a part of a 16 sqm store belonging to his relatives in Ankara that was on the verge of closing. When the business went well,
he rented the entire store in 1981 and entered the cosmetics sector seriously. After 1983, he started to increase the number of its stores selling selective and semi-selective products. Currently, he sells cosmetic products in 53 stores in 21 provinces, under the sign “Tekin Acar” at their door. (By this way, I learned that no company in Turkey produces branded cosmetic products. Branded cosmetic products are either imported in their original packaging — and these are called selective products — or they are filled in Turkey and called semi-selective products.)