In our interview, Kalekim General Manager Mr. Altuğ Akbaş answered our questions. Akbaş gave information about Kalekim’s history and current structure.
Would you briefly mention about yourself, academic career and professional background?
I graduated from Mechanical Engineering Department, Istanbul Technical University in 1992. And, same year, I joined BusinessAdministration Institute program at Marmara University and started my professional career as Production Planning Officer at Kale Pazarlama, a member company of Kale Group.
I continued at Kale Pazarlama up to April 2003 as Planning Executive, Marketing Assistant Manager, Sales Manager, and Marketing Coordinator, respectively.
And, in April 2003, I took position of Marketing Group Manager at Kaleseramik, retaining this position up to March 2008 and then took over the position of General Manager at Kaledekor. And, later on, in March 2011, I started to act as Assistant General Manager in charge of Sales and Marketing at Kalekim.
And, finally, I have been General Manager for Kalekim since June 2013.
Would you give us information about establishment process of Kalekim and its current structure? Which primary industrial sectors are served by Kalekim and what kind of products it supplies? What are products, trademarks and services of Kalekim?
When İbrahim Bodur, the Founder and Honorary President of Kale Group, was doing research on adhesives for ceramic tiles in 1969, basing on information he obtained from his German colleagues, ‘casein’, a protein present in milk, took his attention with its adhesive character, leading him to further research on this matter.
And setting off and eventually arriving at city of Kars, he carried out some examinations and negotiations there. Kaleflex came into existence as a result of these studies in 1972. One year later, in 1973, Kalekim started to operate.
Story of Kalekim, started by a journey to Kars years ago, now continues as a company operating over a wide geographical area.
Acting as a pioneer in the building chemicals since its beginning, Kalekim produces a very wide range of products from ceramic tile adhesives and joint sealants, thermal and water insulation products and decorative plaster used in the construction sector through industrial flooring products and all kinds of mortars and additives.
We continue production operations at our plants in the cities of Istanbul, Balıkesir, Yozgat, Isparta, Mersin, Erzurum and Mardin. Our plants of building chemicals have annual production capacity of 800 thousand tons of building chemicals and 200 thousand tons of paint and plaster in total.
With our production and sale capacity, we are ranked first in Turkey.
Would you give detailed information about your recent investments, especially in the paint production, and about your products in this group?
This year, we, as Kalekim, have leading the way in terms of significant innovations in the field of paint. We launched Bi’Boya, a brand-new paint trademark, under the roof of Kalekim. We, also, intend to introduce our new paints to be produced at our plant in Balıkesir to the consumers across Turkey.
Our new paint trademark shall allow us to break many new grounds in the industry. Capable to articulate language of emotions, the trademark Bi’Boya distinguishes itself from other trademarks in the market considerably. Bi’Boya symbolizes our energetic and innovative point of view.
And we aim at reflect values borne by our trademark on the consumer by integrating it with the traditional and digital channels. Under the trademark Bi’Boya, we provide the customers and building masters with ‘interior paints’, ‘exterior paints and plasters’, ‘decorative products’, ‘surface treatment products’ and 1000+ Product application.
What about your domestic and foreign sales operations? To which areas and what kind of products you mostly sell at home and abroad? What are your priority criteria when setting up investment plans of Kalekim? Does Kalekim has any intended investment plan for the coming periods and, if it has, what are they specifically?
In July, we opened new Kalekim plant with an investment of TRY 40 million in the city of Balıkesir, which is the most promising city located in the axis of Istanbul-Izmir.
Thus, with Balıkesir, we have added the Aegean region to our existing plants operating in 5 geographical locations, i.e. Istanbul, Isparta, Mersin, Yozgat, Erzurum and Mardin. In this way, we shall reinforce our position in this region, supporting our operations in the Marmara Region as well.
At our new plant, which has such capacity to produce for all business branches in which Kalekim operates, we shall produce, backed up the most advanced technology, tile adhesives, joint sealants, water and thermal insulation articles, interior and exterior pants and decorative exterior plasters including all kinds of building chemicals.
Today we have a powerful distribution network in most parts of the world, introducing our products to the consumers and professionals in 70 countries. As to our export business, EU-member countries account for 6 percent, Middle East for 35 per cent, and other countries for rest of it.
We give priority to foreign investments in our plans for near future. As to the line of building chemicals, especially geographical lands near Turkey are very important for us. And we want to further grow in Middle East and Africa with new initiatives. Experience show that export is not merely sufficient by itself.
You should be resident in the foreign markets. In 2016, we started an investment project in Kenya. We may say that we established a different investment and growth model there. By setting up local cooperation, we have steadily advanced with licenced production and know-how transfer.
In line with the market requirements, we produce our products by using raw materials of that geography. In the forthcoming period, we enhance product diversity as well. We also deal with marketing operations in these geographies.
We organize trainings, describe the building masters the most proper ways of using our products to enable them to achieve maximum performance and, furthermore, we intend to gain them a habit to use them. Kalekim also signed an initial investment agreement with Algeria and it will be followed by others.
What kind of operations Kalekim does in the fields of innovation and R&D?
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Kalekim compared to its rivals is the investment it makes in R&D, and innovation is among the most significant strategies of us.
We believe in importance of innovation in all processes from the products we produce through the service we provide. In this sense, we have an R&D department, established long years ago, steadily growing and enhancing.
Today, with a background of 45 years, Kalekim Research and Development Department performs development and improvement operations for a wide range of products such ceramic tile applications, water insulation, thermal insulation, flooring systems, paints, plasters and surface treatment materials, which contain chemicals like cement, acrylic, epoxy, and polyurethane.
We set up “Kalekim Applied Research Laboratory” with latest technological equipment, with a vision to make our R&D operations based not only researches basing on performance analysis, but also basing on physical and chemical analyses.
While we continue our operations with instrumental analytical instruments to perform projects with the government and universities at this technological base, we also conduct all tests as per the European Standards to assure quality and customer satisfaction.
As a projection of our powerful R&D and being first in the sector, KALEKİM ID technology, under patent wholly owned by Kalekim, allows us to produce in such quality same with that of the raw materials in all parts of the world.
We test the products in special cabinets with regulated temperature and moisture to simulate different climactic conditions, independent of the geography in which they are produced.
We are proud of being invited as participant to many national and international platforms due to our scientific studies where we present our initiatives, being recognized worldwide thanks to our powerful R&D.
Furthermore, at Kalekim laboratories, the products are tested by equipment rare worldwide. Basic research operations performed in our applied research laboratories provide great support to the product development studies, increasing our speed to develop products along with our potential to achieve more innovative products.
Our R&D is not only based on performance analysis, but also on physical and chemical analysis, and, as it is, the applied research laboratory is equipped with advanced technological devices.
What about approach of Kalekim in terms of environmental policy and sustainability? What can you say about your operations concerning work health and safety?
A leader in the building sector, we strive to be attentive to social responsibility of our company. In order to respond to the needs and expectations of our customer in the most proper way, we hold it as principle to be “always best” in all our activities.
We are well aware that the way of achieving a sustainable growth in our country goes through constant improvement and development.
Basing on the principle that “there is no other Earth, but there are lots of things we can do”, we, as Kalekim, are very sensitive about use of natural resources. We carry out operations to sort out our waste to give back them to the nature.
In order to comply with the applicable regulations,we continue to be aware of our responsibility in terms of environment, training, work health and safety and customer satisfaction.