Entrepreneurship is leading to a diversifying export mix, and Turkey's brands are becoming increasingly competitive on the world stage.

Orhan Turan
Ozan Ziylan
MLS Holding

According to the Istanbul Chamber of Industries top 500 companies list, your company jumped 207 spots in 2010. What is the behind this quick growth?

ORHAN TURAN We export insulation material heavily to 50 countries around the world. We mainly sell to the Middle East, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Balkans, Romania, Greece, Ukraine, and Russia, but we also export to the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. However, during 2009, while the insulation sector grew by 10%, we succeeded in growing by 34%. I have seen many crises over my time in business, and this allowed me to manage the company through this challenging business period.

To what do you attribute the growth of your company from a family run start-up to a holding with 11 companies?

OZAN ZİYLAN First of all, we are mainly a sales-oriented company. That means our customer has priority. We take care of our customers and we do it knowing that if we don't take care of them then somebody else will. Also, we invest in our business. We were very small when we started, but we invested what we earned from all of these businesses into this business again. Because of that, the company has grown.

What is your outlook for Turkey's overall export potential?

OT The government has a target for 2023 to export $500 billion from Turkey. I believe we can do this. The last seven years has seen approximately 7% growth. GDP is growing very fast because the Turkish people are very young. Approximately 65% are under the age of 35. We are now working on a road map of how to achieve this target of $500 billion. I am confident because over the last decade we have learned a lot about production, marketing, innovation, and distribution channels. I believe in the next 10 years we will be one of the most important economies, along with India, China, Russia, and Brazil.

What new markets are you looking at?

OZ Export markets are important for us, but we don't forget the Turkish market. Concerning other markets, we are successful in the near European countries like Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Macedonia. In 2005, we started becoming successful in the Middle East as well, in countries such as Iran, Syria, and Egypt.

In 2005 and 2006, positive foreign policy initiatives from the government began to improve relations with our Middle Eastern neighbors, and this has increased the potential of those markets dramatically. Also, other important markets include Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, since we share a similar language and culture. Additionally, we have been looking at Latin America more and more recently, and I have been surprised at how well we are received by our clients there. We have dealerships in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, as well as an office in Chile.

What steps are you taking to achieve your goal of becoming a global company?

OT Our philosophy is to work hard to become a global company. I fully believe if you want to be successful, first of all you have to work. I am always working, sometimes until midnight or 2:00 am. I like to work, because I'm not only working for myself; I am working for Turkey, and my friends and dealers. I want to push growth because I see the potential.

What is your vision for the future of MLS?

OZ First of all, we have plans to increase our presence in our operating sectors. We would like to add more products to our spare parts range. The export market is also very significant for our future, and we currently serve 38 countries other than Turkey, and target to increase that to 100 countries. We have some significant expectations for the Africa region, and hope to expand our operations in Latin America and the Middle East. We are also looking into the industrial construction sector, and this is an important target for the future.