“We are the company that comes to people’s mind when we talk about grain storage, drying, conveying, and grain quality control. We have been in the sector since 1985. We are the company that brought newest trends and broke grounds. We have a partnership with the world’s prominent companies. We accumulated knowledge that can manage all process from A to Z. We are willing to carry out projects that will enable major food towns. We are sure of our quality.”
ABP Group CEO
ABP TDS Engineering Inc. is among leading companies in Turkey when grain storage, drying, conveying, and grain quality control are considered. The company presented steel warehouse silos for the first time in Turkey at the end of 1980. For years, it has represented the Grain Systems Incorporation from the United States and Frame, one of the biggest steel silo producers in Europe. Founded in 1985 as importer engineering in the area of food quality control equipment and flour additive, ABP Group’s Chairperson Kemal Kantar talked about the success story of the company.
Kantar said that the company carries out complete projects while they are specialized in grain storage, drying, conveying, and grain quality control. “We are capable of building facilities and plants that can make difference against facilities built by companies, which believe they are good at this, from scratch in Turkey and around the world,” Kantar said. Saying that many steel warehouse producers entered into Turkish market, he said, “They are very greedy that they cannot stay still. That’s why they provide very flexible conditions in price and payment. I think that approach is risky.”
Here is the interview given by Kemal Kantar, Chairperson of ABP Group, to Değirmenci Magazine:
Mr. Kemal, can you tell us about your activities as ABP and what place you have in this sector?
We define our company as a professional firm that works on flour, food, feed, grain quality control equipment, conveying, and stocking systems. We have been in the sector since 1985. We are the company that brought newest trends and broke grounds. So, flour, feed, and oil facilities, pasta- semolina facilities, foodstuff quality control laboratories, the Minister of Agriculture, Turkish Grain Board, and commercial exchange laboratories use systems that we provided. That reality makes us happy.
We provided Turkey a culture in quality control equipment, mostly grain, flour, feed, and foodstuff quality control. Of course, we should also mention dried fruits, pulse and oilseeds. For years, we have represented world’s leader companies in these subjects, and we brought these companies into Turkey for the first time.
Another area of activity is the additives. In the 1990s, only bread facilities used additives in Turkey. We began our activity in this area in 1993 together with a German company. Until 2012, we had worked with this German company. In 2011, we established a local facility in Turkey and began producing additives. In 2012, we sold our share in the company that we established with the German firm. This firm bought our shares.
At the same time, your company is specialized in steel grain warehouse…
Yes. At the end of 1980, we introduced steel tanks for the first time. We explained farmers, TMO officials, flour and feed facilities the problems in storing products underground, concrete silos, and horizontal storing and the modern storage is to use steel. I am the founder and the owner of this company. We are a family company. We have three companies. My wife, child and I manage these companies. Proudly speaking, we do not have any investors, financier, or consultant. We have managed to come this far with our ideas and efforts.
We are the company that comes to people’s mind when we talk about grain storage, drying, conveying, and grain quality control. The quality control devices we have supplied at three hundred TMO’s purchase office have set the standard for grain pricing. Similarly, we established quality control laboratories at commercial exchanges. Thanks to our laboratory equipment, villagers, farmers, industrialists and TMO reached a better ground to offer price.
How did you enter into steel silo?
We began steel warehouse silo projects towards the end of 1980s together with a prominent USA company, Grain Systems Incorporation. We are the distributor of GSI in Turkey. GSI is still the biggest company in its area. We have been working with this company for 30 years, and until the last 6-8 years, we were the market leader in grain storage silos in Turkey. At that time, there were not many local producers in Turkey. But we are happy to see that we accomplished our duty, and Turkish companies carried out very successful projects in grain storage silos. These companies established very strong and assertive facilities. They carried out projects in Turkey and abroad. But, we have not terminated our activities in this area. We have a factory of 16,500 square meters in Akhisar, Manisa. Here we manufacture grain storage and conveying systems.
You do not work as distributor…
Of course, we are not only distributor. We manufacture elevator, conveyor, distributor, and draft tube at grain storage conveyor systems. These are one hundred percent local. Its technology, architecture, and design belong to us. We completed very big projects. There is no need to be humble. I mean we completed various projects varying between 500 and 30 thousand tons in eleven different places in Turkmenistan. Silos from A to Z were completed by GSI. The rest including engineering and design was carried out by us at the Akhisar facility. We established hundreds of GSI branded grain storage systems for TMO and prominent companies.
Another subject you are specialized is corn dryer machines…
At the end of 1980s, farmers in Adana are encouraged to plant corn as second product after wheat harvest. Since corn is very humid, we have another area to operate in. A market has been created for humidity measuring devices and dryer machines since it was necessary to dry corn and to measure humidity level during irrigation or fertilization at harvest. We were the first company to introduce corn dryer machines. And, GSI is the world leader in this subject.
We are a Turkish company, but we don’t operate only in Turkey. We completed hundreds of projects in Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and African countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Congo, and Tanzania. Whenever we completed our projects in these countries, companies ask for price in their second and third projects. Some companies prefer working with other companies, but they knocked our doors again in their other projects. They preferred us because of our quality, references and accessibility under any conditions.
OUR STORAGE CAPACITY IS ONE MILLION TON PER YEAR
Also, we build Frame’s silo in Europe. Our silos have been very successful. We installed 20 20 thousand tons for TAT Bakliyat in Trakya region, 45 thousand tons for Tekinler Inc at Batman, 30 thousand tons for AGR Agriculture, and 30 thousand tons for Uysan Agriculture. Now, we have capability to build projects having one million tons of capacity per year. For example, we can carry out many projects in Africa, former Russian countries, and East Europe. We can run 10-15 silo projects with varying capacities simultaneously. We have references. For instance, 400 thousand tons project in Turkmenistan is one of these projects. We completed the project within nine months. We installed not only dryer or storage but also dryer and seed cleaning. We are expert in grain storage, dryer, delivery, and cleaning systems. Additionally, we build complete projects. We did this in Turkmenistan. In this country, we built flour, semolina, pasta, bread and bag factories and silos. We have cooperation with the world’s prominent companies. We accumulated know-how to manage all process from construction to production. We are willing to carry out projects that will enable major food towns. We are sure of our quality. I am talking for ABP Co. Ltd., ABP TDS Inc. and ABP Energy. We are capable of building facilities and plants from scratch that can make difference against facilities built by companies, which believe they are good at this, in Turkey and around the world.
In Turkey, there are currently many domestic manufacturers of silos. What do you think abou this?
Honestly speaking, our local manufacturers reached a good level. Of course, they need to work harder to reach the level of GSI and Frame.
In silos, conveying systems are important. In order to see a silo as success, conveying systems are critically important. What do you think about this?
Our customers say that we are good at this point. For example, conveying systems were removed, and we replaced these conveyor systems.
You said that “Local producers have to work harder to reach the level of foreigners.” Can you talk about this point? Concretely speaking, what do they have to develop? Secondly, why do companies want to work with your firm?
Honestly, it is very hard for us to compete against local companies in Turkey because of price competition and ease of payment programs. Of course, there are many big local companies. They are very greedy that they have to assume projects no matter what. That’s why they provide very flexible conditions in price and payment. They sign contracts with long terms and very assertive prices. Since it is very easy to reach information in these days, those companies who utilize from this are going ahead. Sometimes we use silos completed by local companies in our projects. That’s why we do not perceive local silo producers as rivals. We do not since we are at the most expensive part at comparison tables. For this reason, companies that want to have ABP or GSI or Frame come to us. For example, we negotiate for a project with 80 thousand tons of capacity in Ukraine. This company came to us since they want GSI and ABP although this company is aware of Turkish companies.
Research and development is a key component that provides edge against competitors and add value. Do you think Turkish companies pay required attention to this reality?
My answer may affect people and companies. But Turkish companies carry out reengineering. I don’t want to say ‘copying.’ We caught come producers red handed while they are measuring thickness of silo we brought from GSI. But they handled this. Now, they manufacture silos in line with every statical calculation. They are now at good level. Still, most of the producers learnt R&D according to feedbacks from customers.
“WE DO NOT PUT OURSELVES UNDER PRICE PRESSURE”
Africa is an important market for mill sector. But in order to take projects cost and price-performance are important criteria. What king of marketing strategy do you have in this market?
We do not sell based on price. If a customer wants to work with us and our producers, they have to pay the difference. In most cases, customers do not have interlocutor if they run into problem. Even if they find interlocutor, they do not have respond.
But we want to sell the quality. Our systems can be used for 30-40 years. Under no conditions, we do not put ourselves under the price pressure. We do not let this happen. We build healthy systems for long periods with having no problems.
“I AM CONCERNED ABOUT LOCAL SILO PRODUCERS”
I do not voice any negative opinion about any local firm. But, today, the organized industrial site in Mardin is like a silo farm. You cannot believe your eyes. Every factory has silos at its garden. We are the first company that sold silos to Mardin organized industrial site. Look at ABP-GSI conveyor and storage systems built 15 years ago. And look at some silos built last year. The difference is like black and white. Customers want discount. We do our best, but we told these customers that we cannot provide payment conditions and price level like local companies. Now, I think that these greedy and big local companies would destroy themselves. I am concerned about them. I wish success for them. They are so greedy that they have to eat. They cannot stay still no matter what. So, they are very flexible at price and payment conditions. I think this approach is very risky.
Is there a particular area you are focusing on for the coming period?
Our target market is Iran and Africa plus [former] Russian republics. These are markets we have been active for years. Now, I will visit Sudan as a part of a trade mission. Together with an Iranian company, we will work in Africa. At the same time, we have been working with former Russian republics. For example, we are about to sign a contract for 80 thousand tons. We have an ongoing project in Iran. We are now assembling 50 thousand ton of capacity.