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Turkey 2020 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

Belgin Oil is on the lookout for new markets and partners to deliver oil products for both cars and factories.

Bülent Araslı
BIOGRAPHY

After getting a business administration degree from Middle East Technical University, Bülent Araslı continued his education with an MBA at Boğaziçi University. In 1982, he joined Çukurova Foreign Trade Co. In 1985, he started at M.A.N. Bus and Truck Co. He then joined Kordsa Tire Cord Fabric Co. in 1986, where he would spend 30 years of his career. In 2010, he was assigned the role of vice president of KordsaGlobal, responsible for global sales for all products. Since 2017, he has been the general manager of Belgin Industrial Oils Trading and Manufacturing Co.

Belgin Oil exports to around 50 countries around the world. What are your most important export markets, and in which regions are you hoping to expand?
Due to Turkey's location in the middle of Asia and Europe, around 40% of our exports go to Middle Eastern countries, 30% to Africa, 20% to Europe and the rest for the Americas and other countries. We are growing in Asia, which is one of our main goals. In Asia, we are planning to enter with all of our product lines, but most importantly with our automotive and metal working oils. In China, in particular, we want to enter with automotive oil, whereas India is a prospective market for industrial lubricants. We are equally distributed between industrial oils and automotive oils.

How does Belgin's JV in Germany support exports in the European region?
This small JV is a standalone entity manufacturing highly niche products for automotive industry. But, before that, we are continuously checking Western European companies, especially in German-speaking countries, to find an opportunity to form a JV or acquire a company. It is not easy to find a suitable company to form a JV.

Can you tell me how the strategy to market and export metal working oils and automotive oils differs?
For metal working oils, you need to understand customers' processes very well, define the needs clearly, and work to develop the business because entering a market is not easy. It requires a lot of trials, approvals, and certificates, for example. But once you are successful, it is a long-term business. Automotive oil, meanwhile, is not that difficult. It is quicker to form relations. The marketing and sales activities are easier to do.

Given the difficulty of the segment, how is Belgin working to penetrate new markets in the Middle East for industrial and metal working oil?
The key is finding the right channel or the right business partner. We work mainly through distributors who have experience in the sector, certain financial strength, and strong relationships in the relevant industries. Once we find such a business partner, we discuss and design short-term and long-term strategies together.

What are the main challenges Belgin faces in its global supply chain?
We have suppliers in and outside of Turkey. One of the main challenges for not only our company but almost all the companies in the sector is establishing long-term agreements and reliable relationships with suppliers. Another important challenge is digitalization, including automation in production and the use of big data. Our company has a large customer portfolio, exceeding 3,000 industrial companies, and we have regular, ongoing business relationships with at least 50% of those. Therefore, we have a huge data base and a lot of information to manage effectively. Another important component is connectivity with clients. In brief, in the whole supply chain process, we have a digital transformation challenge that we have already included in our investment plans.

Within the R&D field, what investments have you made, and how have they yielded new products for Belgin?
Our company's vision statement declares: “We strongly aim to grow beyond borders through high technology products." This is how we plan to proceed. We have highly knowledgeable and experienced experts in R&D, and we are hiring new ones. We have invested heavily in R&D over the last two decades. In 2018, we acquired official R&D Center Certification from the Ministry of Industry and Technology so that our R&D and innovation activities will benefit from the governmental incentives. R&D is one of our main strengths, and we want to add more competencies on top of this. Every year, we are launching new, value-added products for several industries such as tubes and pipes, defense, automotive, aerospace, home appliances, aluminum, iron, and steel.