“Our valuable customers working with the Aybakar brand shared their satisfaction with other investors in the sector and this enabled us to achieve the success we have attained in Asia and Africa in South America, Europe and the Far East, too, in a short time. In 10 years, as a century-old company in the industry, we aim to not leave a country or even a city in the world where our brand and machines do not enter.”
In this issue, Filiz Aybakar, Chairwoman of Aybakar, one of the most well-established companies in the milling technologies sector, is our guest for Technology Platform. We talked to Filiz Aybakar, the third generation manager of the company, which is preparing to leave behind a century in the industry, about the last developments and problems in the milling industry and Aybakar's future goals.
Pointing out that the Covid-19 pandemic helped to re-understand the vital role of grains in human nutrition, Aybakar said that the pandemic period, when transportation opportunities were restricted, accelerated digitalization in milling, one of the oldest industries in history. She states that the increase in raw material prices and problems in procurement because of the war in Ukraine negatively affected the sector, but Aybakar overcame the difficulties that arose thanks to its quality, experience, professional team, strong stockpile and financial structure. The successful manager summarizes the company's 100th-year goal as "not leaving a single country in the world where the Aybakar brand and its machines have not entered".
The answers of Filiz Aybakar, Chairwoman of Aybakar, to Miller Magazine’s questions are as follows:
Ms. Aybakar, first of all, can you give us a brief information about your company and its fields of activity?
Aybakar A.Ş. was established in Ankara in 1932 and manufactures wheat, corn and semolina grinding facilities. Our company, which has grown over time, has so far established turnkey facilities in 68 countries around the world. We are also modernizing and increasing the capacity of old flour mills. Making new connections every day, Aybakar continues to grow by adding new members to its family. In line with the demands of our customers, we prepare projects by considering the regional product range. We act as parts of a whole and reach customer satisfaction.
Aybakar is known as a well-established family company with a history of 90 years in the milling technologies industry. This is indeed a great achievement for a family business. How has Aybakar transformed since 1932? What legacy and tradition did you inherit as the new generation managers of the company?
Our esteemed family elder and deceased grandfather İhsan Aybakar established the Aybakar company in 1932 and started machine production. Later, our father Ferruh Aybakar led the business. The quality, durability and use of the machines made have satisfied the customers. Since then, the highest quality of raw materials used in production has always been selected and highly efficient and sustainable projects have come to life. This ultimately resulted in customer satisfaction.
After our father passed away, our mother Hatice Aybakar took over the business. In this process, we, three siblings, gave our mother the best support we could. Our dream since childhood has always been to operate our factory in the milling sector, so we received our training accordingly. Thanks to our French, English, Arabic and Persian education abroad, we are now able to address many geographies. Besides, we have always followed the developing technology and the agenda closely. After we lost our mother at an early age, we three siblings, Mustafa İhsan Aybakar, Sinan Aybakar and Filiz Aybakar, as the third generation, successfully manage the company founded by our grandfather. We plan to continue our business for generations in virtue of our business principles that we learned from our family elders, priorities, relations based on respect and love, rules, mission and vision.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your industry? What kind of change do you observe in the industry? What kind of process do you think awaits the grain processing industry in the future?
The past three years have been quite challenging economically and psychologically all over the world. The world had to live with a pandemic that humankind have not encountered for a long time, and experienced for the first time by the younger generation. This situation, in which the world was caught unprepared, created great problems along with chaos and pessimism. The pandemic harmed the milling and machinery industry, as well as many other industries. Mandatory delays in our normal commercial activities, customer visits, exhibitions, and factory installations took place. We hope that all the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which we can say now has tailed down, will not come back again.
However, I can say that the pandemic has also had some positive effects on our workflow models. At the beginning of this process, when coming together physically was not possible, digitalization gathered pace. We started to make our meetings and sales online. We have developed remote intervention and solutions for our customers' facilities. We discovered the possibilities offered by digitalization. In this process, we also had the opportunity to discuss the issues that we had to postpone constantly and to review our future plans. We also made sales to many new regions. Our flour factory project, which we commissioned in Russia, is a good example of this.
In the Covid-19 process, which affected our entire lives, we remembered how vital nutrition is. In particular, we have re-understood the place and importance of cereals in human nutrition. Consumption of pulses, pasta, wheat flour, semolina, etc. has reached its peak. Because these products are easy to store, have a long shelf life, have a high nutritional value and have many uses. We foresee that the consumption of grain, particularly wheat, will increase in the future. Since the new generation likes to live more practical and fast, noodle-style pastas will further dominate the market. We anticipate that the consumption of such products will increase day by day.
Commodity prices hit an all-time high due to the Ukraine-Russia war. The war magnified the risks that started before the pandemic and evolved into greater uncertainties with the pandemic. Russia and Ukraine are also among the prominent suppliers of qualified steel needed by the milling machinery industry. How do the geopolitical risks that increased due to the war affect you and the industry?
The price increases in raw materials and the difficulties experienced in supply are reflected in the prices we offer to our customers although unwillingly. As you know, Russia is the world wheat export leader. The war and price increases not only affect the trade of our current customers, but also the decisions of our customers who make investment plans.
What are the other challenges the Turkish milling machinery industry is facing today?
All the adverse events ongoing around the world are directly or indirectly reflected in the milling machinery industry. Because our company is export-intensive, the increase in shipping prices affects our trade due to the global container and vessel supply problem. In addition, increases in iron and steel prices, uncertainties in raw material supply, and suppliers who stockpile make life difficult for us. We have to reflect the price increases to our customers.
Can you tell us about your recent successful projects that make you proud?
From the moment we decided to open up our long-standing trade to the Asian and African markets to every part of the world and saw the deep interest to us, we keep asking ourselves the question, 'Why haven't we made this breakthrough before?' We have seen that our valued customers working with the Aybakar brand share their satisfaction with other investors in the industry and this made our job easier. This enabled us to achieve the same success we attained in Asia and Africa in South America, Europe and the Far East, too, in a short time.
I can express our company's principle as follows: 'What is important is not to do business, but to ensure that our work is sustainable'. And we bring this policy into action with our high-quality machines, 24/7 after-sales support, being accessible to our customers whenever they have problems, our long-life machines that can be used for many years keeping their novelty and efficiency like the first day, and by monitoring and adopting the advancing technology by our R&D team.
What are the services that differentiate you from your competitors in the market? What are your strengths?
Our strengths are; our quality, 1st class raw material, our well-established structure and after-sale support, and thus we are a machine manufacturer that is preferred over and over again. The importance we attach to R&D ensures that we always keep pace with the technology and developments closely. In addition, we are taking firm steps forward thanks to our competent project, diagram and engineering team, our nearly 100 years of experience in the sector, and our turnkey project works in many products such as wheat flour, corn flour, semolina, pasta feeder systems. Thanks to our production, stockpile, financial strength and professional crew, we are providing services to our customers independent of foreign sources.
'Innovation' and 'R&D' are key to success today. Can you tell us about your vision and work under the R&D concept?
Our teammates, as experts in various fields, work diligently and make improvements for each product. The mechanical engineers, industrial, electrical and electronic engineers working in our structure maintain their R&D studies to get it one step further every day by acting as an integral part of the whole. Our R&D team works non-stop in order to easily access the most up-to-date information thanks to the internet and technology.
Which countries or regions do you regard as potential new markets for your company?
We regard the Far East countries as potential markets. We concentrate our work in these regions.
Aybakar will celebrate its 100th year of establishment in another 10 years. What are the 100th-year goals of Aybakar?
We aim not to leave a country or even a city in the world where our brand and machines have not entered. We are planning that our company, which is in the top 3 in the milling industry, will continue to exist as a leader in all and every region for generations. We are planning to celebrate our 100th anniversary together with our valued customers and business partners.