Interviews An astonishing transformation

An astonishing transformation

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An astonishing transformation

He’s one of those people who squeeze out water from a stone. He’s young, hardworking, and as sharp as a tack, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to make such progress in 2 years. We paid a visit to Tarık Çelik, the board chairman of Ak Mermer Granit who took noteworthy steps as a granite importer and recommenced exporting in August 2018, at his storehouse in Muğla. We were met by a young man full of natural stone experience. The company that his father and uncle founded in 1984 changed his destiny. Marble operating is in his blood, such that he says, “I grew up with gangsaw noise.” After completing his education in 2010, he took charge in the administrative level of the company. Thanks to his talent, he soon took the reigns in his hands. Such an exemplary member of the Y generation.

2014 was his turning point. After the partnership was dissolved and the company’s production at the quarry stopped, he tried to do marketing. He tells us about those times excitedly, “I got that without marketing you couldn’t sell anything and set off. I traveled across Turkey. Every time I saw a natural stone operator, I knocked on the door. This initiative that I took granted me four hundred clients. We had been active in India since 2003.  We were importing granite and still couldn’t meet all the orders we were receiving. We had one of the first three or four granite storehouses of Turkey until 2018 when the dollar reached 7 lire and we decided to change our path.”

That path made them change their identity of importers to exporters. Tarık Çelik explains how: “We were in Dubai for business. We promised to each other with my colleagues that we wouldn’t return to Turkey without receiving an order. We got it on the first day. We shipped the order and got another one. We continued this operation that was gradually becoming bigger and faster. We achieved very good sales in the first year and were qualified for the green passport. But this had a cost. We had dedicated two years of our lives. I went abroad ten times for business in 2019 and made 15.000 kilometers in Turkey. You achieve it when you work for it.  I would like to sit at my office in Istanbul, work out and have dinner outside with my family, too. I can do all these things too, however, our team has a slogan: “Everybody talks, we work!”

However, Tarık Çelik, who has specialized in the production field, has some complaints. He emphasizes the manufacturers’ situation and continues, “We’ve been a manufacturer family since 1984, but we quit. Do you know why? Because the majority of the natural stone manufacturers in Turkey do not earn! They sell products for $3 or $4 and ship them to the ports. Such a pity! Increasing this stone’s price must be our main goal. The manufacturers must stand fast and the Ministry of Energy must see into it, if necessary. We could barely increase the stone, whose value dropped to $4, to $5, but the pandemic ruined it all. Second or third-generation marble operators like us must change this mentality first. I saw a lot of people go bankrupt, and I know why. Just work, don’t boast. I am not against the institutionalization, but you must be at the center of your work.”

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