For nearly forty years, Turkish company Petlas Tyres has cultivated a reputation for excellence within its niche. We spoke to General Manager Hakan Yalniz about the need for constant innovation within an ever-changing marketplace.
Established in 1976, initially as an economic enterprise of the Turkish state, Petlas Tyres quickly diversified into the military sector and particularly aircraft. By 1992, the company was privatised and since then has demonstrated impressive and continuous growth. Since 2005, when the company began trading as part of the AKO group, that growth has accelerated. Now with operations in more than 130 countries worldwide, churning out an impressive annual 240,000-ton production capacity and employing nearly 5000 personnel, it has reached the status of a mid-size global player.
Taking the challenge
Current General Manager Hakan Yalniz took up his present position in January 2021 following a thirty-year career in the sector, in which he worked in multiple positions for Pirelli, a globally recognised brand. Despite this wealth of experience, he was nonetheless excited by the opportunity presented by Petlas. The company’s goal, well entrenched by then, was to produce the highest quality tyres possible at affordable prices to the end consumer. This was a philosophy Mr Yalniz adopted with relish.
“The production facilities at Petlas mean that the very highest standards are achievable,” he explains. “And this is so important. All the raw materials we use are very carefully sourced too. Our suppliers are obligated to provide materials with one hundred percent control. What I mean by that is that they come to us under very strict limitations according to international guidelines. This is crucial to us because our scope is so wide.”
The supply chain angle is one Mr Yalniz is keen to emphasise. It is crucial within all sectors but especially so for any company that manufactures.
“One of the biggest strengths Petlas has,” he states, “which I recognised from when I first arrived, is that the company has its own logistics company attached. We have approximately 200 trucks which are owned by us and are driven by our employees to do our deliveries and so on. This gives us the biggest distribution network in Turkey, encompassing around 1600 dealers of all sizes. This is all managed in-house, which is a very effective model. Our import/export business is similar in that we manage our own bonded warehousing, and this gives us total control over what we do.”
“The production facilities at Petlas mean that the very highest standards are achievable.”
The company also has a fully automated warehouse. Robotics ensure that each tyre sold by Petlas goes into the distribution network without having been touched by a human hand. Not only does this offer a guarantee of pristine condition for each product, but it also means that exacting regimes of sanitation and personal distancing, such as those required during the recent coronavirus pandemic, can be met with ease.
Keeping it green
As might be expected, environmental issues are also high on Petlas’s agenda. Sustainability has become a key concern in recent years. Any company with production sites, especially one involved, even if tangentially, in the automotive sector must embed sustainable practices into its day-to-day working model. Petlas has taken to this with real vigour and invested $21m in an environmental overhaul. A large part of this is a solar plant of nearly three hundred thousand square metres, which is currently under construction. This will become operational in July 2023 and will mean that Petlas’s manufacturing site runs entirely on green energy, thus hugely reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
Yet this kind of innovation and forward-thinking would mean little without some adherence to more traditional business priorities, too. In common with many successful companies, Petlas’s growth is due in large part to its people. Mr Yalniz has overseen this during the last year and a half and recognises that international expansion requires an international outlook in terms of personnel.
“It is true,” the general manager says. “Recently the company has hired a large number of great people. Not just from Turkey, but from the international community. This is very important for us as so much of our market is global, and this is what has really enabled Petlas to make such great steps over the last few years. We have a very good mix now, and this gives a positive effect on our whole approach.”
A competitive edge
However, the tyre market is a crowded one, populated not only with very well-known international brands but also smaller, local competitors. Because of this, it is very important for any ambitious company to have features that help it stand out from the crowd. The company’s portfolio certainly helps in this regard. The company has 295 different patterns and more than 3500 sizes. This means that Petlas is able to reach all corners of the market. In addition to this, the company boasts another feature, which Mr Yalniz speaks of proudly.
“We have our own test track,” the general manager explains. “This is the only one in Turkey. We are one of the few tyre producers to own its own testing track. Only very well-known, international companies have this capability. This helps us to be independent and enables us to have a very efficient approach to testing regimes.”
With this in hand and with their current position secure, thoughts have naturally turned to the future, and Petlas’s three-to-five-year medium-term roadmap indicates exciting times ahead. Well established in Europe and North America, it appears further international expansion is on the cards. Asian, African and South American markets are all targets. Alongside this, there are also plans to increase production.
“By the end of this year,” Mr Yalniz confirms, “we will be investing in a new factory. This will consist of ten million PCR tyres, creating an extra 100,000 tons a year. That will make us one of the biggest tyre producers in Europe. This is important for lots of reasons, but it also helps with cost efficiency. When you produce more, your fixed price goes down.”
Building the brand
In addition to the above, Petlas has made a headline aim out of brand recognition. A new research and development centre ensures that global standards and certifications are stringently met. In this way, and alongside these other developments, Petlas intends and expects to be a name to be reckoned with, competing with the very biggest entities in the sector.
“Our goal,” Mr Yalniz concludes, “is that our name will be at the very top of the tyre industry in the same way that Pirelli of Italy or Michelin of France are renowned in all corners of the world. Soon, Petlas of Turkey will have that status too.”