“We perceive 2018 as the milestone for our company. We set up our infrastructure according to the very high quantities for production since there has been gap in the production of good quality and superior machines with reasonable price in the sector. There have been major orders and important projects in discussions. We hold discussion with many customers in Iran, Mexico, Russi and Africa.”
Semih ALAPALA – Member of the Board & Mehmet ALAPALA – CEO, Alapros
Alapros has been founded three years ago based on half a century of experience and past in Çorum, the global production center for grain processing technologies. The company has been active in machine production, design, diagram, automation and installation of turn-key facilities in the mill industry. At the helm of the company, there are two young people that embraced innovation and the research and development.
Miller Magazine sat down with Mehmet Alapala, CEO of the company, and his brother Semih Alapala to talk about the company’s targets and problems in the mill industry. The Alapala brothers noted the import of machines produced in foreign countries although there are many Turkish machine producers, adding that, “Machine producers should really question this reality.” The brothers said they took the road from this point and targeted their company to be among leader corporations within 5-10 years with the research and development investments and know-how. Mehmet Alapala underlined that the sector has a bright future, adding that Turkish mill machines will play a leading role with R&D investment and new sales’ strategies.
The following is interview with Mehmet Alapala and Semih Alapala:
Can you tell reader of Miller about the company’s inception, its vision and mission?
The Alapros Machine may seem as a new company, but it is a brand with 50 years history and employees that aim to transfer this history to the new generation. This team carries this signature on it. This company does not only belong to Mehmet Alapala or Semih Alapala. Rather, it is a company with huge legacy in its past. As Alapros, we took inspiration from our grandfather Mehmet Alapala and felt obliged to serve this sector through blending the legacy with science and art. As Alapros, we want to share this passion and experience with millers. It is a great honor for us to continue our tradition of quality and innovation at a higher class. Alapros designed all its products, services and processes with the goal of global leadership. The company believes that innovation means more than a word, and the company is a signature of experienced team that live with innovation and manufacturing passion. We can call this ‘compulsory service.’ Let me paraphrase this: In Turkey, there have been strategic mistakes in some issues particularly machine production. Due to reasons such as short term sale strategy or non-institutionalization of family businesses, Turkish companies cannot compete against European rivals. Considering all these, we decided to establish this company.
As you mention, family companies in Turkey experience some problems. What can be done to prevent such problems from occurring?
Family companies around the world organize around aims to provide better quality service, make better production and find better solutions instead of disorganizing. Unfortunately, in Turkey, generally speaking, family companies suffer from leader-centric organization and failure to become institutional due to our genes and culture. Actually, since more than 85 percent of companies in Turkey are family companies, Turkish government should step in. According to statics, Turkish companies disintegrate or close down after second and third generation. After division, they cannot move forward. The state should take precautions for companies that have great importance in the sector. I think that even ‘Family Companies Ministry’ can be established in order not to lose these values.
SHORT-TERM SALES STRATEGY
AFFECT SECTOR BADLY
What made you to establish Alapros?
There are many reasons for the establishment of the company. One of the most important reasons is that Turkey still imports foreign-made machines although there are many production companies in the country. This reason was the most important. People should think about this. Machine producers should seriously ponder over this fact: “Why do people import machines although there are many machine producers?” And, this import has been increasing. According to the Ministry for Customs, even though the export of mill machines has been increasing, the import has been on the rise as well. One of reasons behind this reality is that people do not pay enough attention to the research and development, and they prioritize short-term sales. Also, they do not provide support after sale. There is problem with the quality as well. We need to work on this. Therefore, we continue at Alapros our tradition of innovation and quality.
What do you do about R&D, branding and investment? What does Alapros offer to its customers?
Alapros hit the road with R&D investments. We founded our production facility. We started our activities with the right CNC bench, machine and equipment. We created newest machines with new projects. Right now, there is a structure in which that companies copy each other. They produce similar machines. But, after we establish our factor and R&D – in other words, after we completed all things and we say that ‘we can do this’ – we started production. Even we design our logo after production phase. We establish marketing department, and all things started after this. But, the reserve of this path is followed in our sector. Together with modern production facility in line with Industry 4.0 and experienced team, who wants to share its passion, Alapros carries out the production of machine and equipment, design, diagram, automation and turn-key facilities for integrated facility at the mill sector. We are better than our European competitors in some points. I can say that the quality is same at many points. We provide machines that have same quality with our European rivals but with a reasonable price. We underline our competitive prices regarding our European competitors.
You start off the road after all these works. What can you say about domestic and foreign reaction? What are your targets for 2018?
We perceive 2018 as the milestone for our company. We set up our infrastructure according to the very high quantities. Thanks God that we did this because there has been gap in the production of good quality and superior machines with reasonable price in the sector. There have been major orders and important projects in discussions. We hold discussion with many customers in Iran, Mexico, Russi and Africa. There are small jobs in some region of Europe. There are major companies from Africa that we hold meetings. Especially we continue to have meetings in the North Africa. We have been discussing and in touch with many companies. People’s approach to our company is very positive. After all, when they see our design, we got positive feedback.
As a new brand, can you talk about your marketing and promotion activities?
We attend fairs, but we are trying to attend good ones. We attend congress. TUSAF was an important congress. Many major millers attend TUSAF. We showcase different things to people. The real reason behind our participation into the fair was not to sale machines. We promoted our products. While we were designing our catalogue to be distributed during the fair, we want something that people can put it on the bookshelf and use as data bank. It is a catalogue that provides information on machinery and equipment. In our products, we offer both science and art. We made agreement with an art office in Italy. We perform artistic activities. Our sector will see these in the coming days.
Can you talk about your production facility?
Our production facility cover 15 thousands square meters. We work with CNC machines with high technology. Unlike our own industry, we use very fine measuring devices used in the defense industry. All our CNCs are Turkish, German and Japanese origin. We have more than 35 products and more than 100 employees.
Do you have foreign partners and shareholders in production and marketing?
We are planning to have promotion agreement with the Italian company whom we have agreement on design. In the meantime, we work with Italian companies on project diagram.
After a 10 year period, where do you see yourself in the milling industry?
Mill and flour mill systems are not very well understood in quality perspective in the short run. People will see how good they are after 20-30 years. These systems cannot be discarded after 10 years. When we design these systems, we produce them in way that they can last 30-40 years. After 5-10 years, that’s why people will witness the quality of Alapros machines and see that these machines are working fine. In current situations, we need to make headway before competing against European rivals. We work hard for this. We perceive ourselves as a leading company in this sector within 5-10 years.
What kind of problems does the milling sector face with?
There are more than 30 suppliers in Turkey in various sizes. They increase their production capacity and export year by year. They provide service to flour facilities, which we call as millers in Turkey and abroad. Among these 30 suppliers, there are no more than 5 producers that pay importance to R&D and innovation. The total production of leading companies in Turkey is much lower than the sale of dominant companies in abroad. I believe that Turkish companies do not give importance to R&D and emphasize on short-term sale opportunities.
Do you want to add anything?
I hope that Turkish machinery producers think ahead instead of short-term sale opportunities, and they increase their contribution to the country’s economy through quality production. If Turkey still imports machine, we need to seriously consider about what is going on. This country can dominate cereal market in the world. As machine producers, we can contribute to this with technical innovation and quality. Recently, there are Turkish millers that prefer to import machine since milling machines are expensive here. As machine producers, we need to criticize ourselves. I hope that R&D and innovation turn into philosophy for all machinery producers so that the success in cereal sector can last. Also, I hope that we can compete against foreign rivals through specialization.
In our previous article titled "“Constant innovation required to stay at the top”" information is given about "Genel Değirmen Makine ve M. Nuri ÖZŞAHİN".