Michel Akavi, Managing Director of DHL Express Turkey, on DHL's success in Turkey, the growth of Turkish exports, and the significance of SMEs to global trade.

Michel Akavi

DHL Express Turkey continues growing rapidly in the country, despite the challenging global economic conditions. Our journey in Turkey started in 1981, and led us along a path to offer comprehensive services to our customers in many different industries, such as textiles, banking, IT, automotive, and construction. We cover a geography of 44 cities. We work through 16 service centers and 13 agency points, with more than 700 expert staff. DHL Express Turkey is a successful example of management in terms of fulfilling the objectives and expectations of the DPDHL group, in areas such as sales and business development, customer relationship management, operational excellence, and employee satisfaction. We therefore stand as one of the key markets among 220 countries in DHL's global network. We position ourselves as a company strongly contributing to Turkey's high growth rate by addressing the needs and expectations of local companies and helping them become efficient exporters as they operate in international markets.

We always work hard to go above and beyond the achievement levels of the axis of our services by investing heavily in infrastructure, our employees, and the DHL brand, as well as expanding our capacity. Undoubtedly, such a customer-oriented business approach coupled with a corporate culture based on a “can-do" spirit results in success and shareholder value. In Turkey, we have a market share of over 50%, and we want to sustain this leading position in the industry by continuing to be the provider, employer, and investment of choice.


Like a barometer that keeps a track of climate change, our traffic is a major indicator of foreign trade at large. By carrying the largest number of documents and order-generating samples for local exporters, we are paving the way for the larger cargo movements that follow. In this manner, we monitor the pulse of business. As is already well known by the Turkish public and the country's business circles, Turkey has set an ambitious export volume target of $500 billion by 2023. This objective has come in addition to Turkey's already groundbreaking economic performance over the past eight years, which has turned the country into one of the world's major emerging nations. Considering its economic power, demographic dynamism, and political influence, I believe that Turkey will remain a focus country and a bridge between cultures, religions, and trade zones.


In international trade, it is very important that samples are delivered quickly, safely, and undamaged to their destinations. Especially after the crisis in 2008, Turkey has been able hold its position against China as a location of production. In comparison to China, Turkey can produce both small- and mid-scale orders, as well as dispatch them more quickly, thanks to its geographic proximity to Europe. At this point, we make door-to-door deliveries to almost every postal code in Europe with equal efficiency. Banking documents are extremely important for exporters as they fund their transactions. We contribute greatly to this process by transporting these documents in a timely and safe manner. Among others, the automotive industry has become the leading sector of Turkey in recent years.

Managing these streams on time is more than crucial in the production phase. We are happy to see our operational power and reach contributing to the development of the Turkish automotive industry in various links of the supply chain, from parts to finished products.


DHL Express Turkey has always been an active partner in development. The company has long aligned customs rules and practices regarding the function of air express service providers in Turkey with those of the EU and US by taking various initiatives and becoming a pilot institution. In doing so, we test new developments and systems before they are introduced officially to the industry. The transition to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) at Turkish customs was one example of DHL Express Turkey as a pilot company, not only volunteering to test the new IT system at the site, but also facilitating the entire process by sharing the company's technical know-how and global experience with the related government authorities.


SMEs, as in many other economies of the world, form a dynamic core of Turkish industry and trade. This dynamism automatically reflects the role and contribution to the development of Turkish exports as well. Although they are very agile in adapting themselves to new production processes and finding innovative ways of reaching out to new foreign buyers, this particular segment of customers generally needs support in areas such as global sales and marketing experience, customer relationship management (CRM), IT systems, foreign trade financing, and corporate governance. DHL Express Turkey has always recognized the special needs and expectations of Turkish SMEs, and has come to position its core service offering for SMEs in a way that extends pricing flexibility for each geographic zone, country, and weight. In addition, we support SME export efforts by providing these companies with state-of-the-art packaging such as Textile Express, which is a specially designed box or tube for textile samples, Bottle Express for samples containing liquids, Stone Express for marble, mosaic, and porcelain samples, and Worldwide Medical Express (WMX), a temperature-controlled box system for blood and tissue samples for medical diagnostics. This adds value to our customers' own offerings by professionally displaying their products to potential buyers in various parts of the world. DHL Fair Express enables our clients to take part in major international fairs and exhibitions with ease and efficiency, where we offer specialized delivery solutions at very reasonable costs in addition to a group of expert DHL employees being physically available for support at fairgrounds. These representatives are able to solve all types of problems easily. DHL Gift Express is a catalogue product that allows customers to ship corporate gifts for their existing and potential customers overseas, which enhances their CRM efforts at the international level. Through the preparation and launch of corporate social responsibility campaigns such as “Buy now from Turkey," with stickers on our shipments carrying a campaign slogan, artwork, and coordinates of business-sourcing websites, DHL Express is serving first and foremost Turkish SMEs, to sell their products throughout the world. Last but not least, through the DHL Academy we intend to train local SME employees about various topics in the management of international trade and global marketing. This is a platform in which we share our global expertise and know-how on global trade with our customers to better prepare them as they compete with rivals in the global market.


The current leading trend in the world is that economic growth is moving from the advanced economies to the emerging economies, led by Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). Turkey is one of these emerging economies, and considering the country's developments in recent years, I can say with confidence that in addition to its traditional foreign trade partners of Europe and the US, Turkey has started moving the country's foreign trade operations successfully to emerging economies, especially to its neighboring countries. I believe that Turkey will be more active in the world's rising economies, and begin entertaining a larger share of these newly emerging markets. DHL Express Turkey will do its part to accelerate the economic growth of Turkey and its exporters by connecting the dots on the world map.