Since the early 2000s, selling rather than producing has become a more challenging process. “Why should the customer prefer us?” is a question we constantly ask ourselves as a company. Only the companies that can answer this question accurately and clearly proceed successfully in their way.
Chairwoman of the Board
One of the indispensable issues for many companies in the manufacturing industry today is to develop tailor-made solutions by focusing on customers' needs and demands. Only by achieving this, companies can ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty and attain steady growth and justified success. In this issue, we had the opportunity to interview Pelin Alkan, Chairwoman of the Board of Starmax Agricultural Machinery Co. which appeals to both feed companies and the farmer who produce feed only as much as they need. Ms. Alkan explained how the company, which makes production on a closed area of 5000 m2 in Izmir, grew in a short time and reached the size to export to nearly 50 countries. Underlining that sales have become more challenging rather than production in the twenty-first century, Alkan states that, like a tailor, they produce high-quality and affordable solutions to fully meet the expectations and needs of the customer.
Mentioning that most of the companies producing professional feed systems have a production capacity of 5 tons/hour and above, Pelin Alkan said, “Our biggest advantage as a company is that, along with industrial professional plants, we also produce plants with capacities lower than 5 tons/hour.”
Stating that international manufacturers position Turkish machinery companies between Western companies and Chinese companies in terms of quality, Pelin Alkan states that they explain to their customers that they produce at the same level as European companies, and that companies that compromise quality for cost have a negative impact on the national image. We talked with Ms. Alkan about the increase in production costs, the support that can be given to exporting companies and many other issues.
Pelin Alkan answered our questions as follows:
Starmax exports to 47 countries with over 40 years of experience. Can we get to know your company?
Starmax Agricultural Machinery Co. is a company with 43 years of industry experience, specializing in the production of feed preparation machines and plants. Our production plant, located in Torbalı, Izmir, continues its activities on a closed area of 5000 m2. Cold forming, machining, welded connection and surface engineering processes are carried out within our factory.
Our company, which produces machinery in different fields such as feed, biomass, rendering and special projects, serves its customers with a wide range of products ranging from farm-type solutions to turnkey industrial projects. The capacity of the systems we produce varies between 1 and 60 tons/hour.
Since the early 2000s, selling rather than producing has become a more challenging process. “Why should the customer prefer us?” is a question we constantly ask ourselves as a company. Only the companies that can answer this question accurately and clearly proceed successfully in their way. At Starmax, our mission is to produce tailor-made high-quality and affordable solutions to fully meet the expectations and requirements of our customers.
Currently, we export 80% of the systems and machines we produce in 47 countries. We are proud to represent our company in the most challenging regions. As the Starmax family, we draw our strength from our experienced staff, long years of experience and customer-oriented working principles.
Can we get information about your product categories and production plants?
At Starmax, we design, produce and install projects for both professional feed companies and farms that produce only for their own consumption. Therefore, the systems we produce range from farm-type plants with a capacity of 1 ton/hour to industrial plants with a capacity of 60 tons/hour.
Most of the companies producing professional feed systems produce systems of 5 tons/hour or more. Our biggest advantage as a company is that we also produce plants with an hourly capacity of 5 tons or less in addition to industrial-type professional plants.
We can classify Starmax's product groups as follows;
,•Farm-type powder-pellet feed mill plants (with capacities varying between 1-3 tons/hour)
•Industrial powder-pellet feed mill plants (with capacities varying between 5-60 tons/hour)
•Farm-type flaking mill plants (with capacities varying between 1-3 tons/hour)
•Industrial flaking mill plants (with capacities varying between 5-20 tons/hour)
•Standard feed production machines for farmers
WE DEVELOP TAILOR-MADE SOLUTIONS
Could you give information about the position of Starmax in the market? Why do your customers prefer you? What factors differentiate you from your competitors?
At Starmax, we listen to the needs of our customers and, like a tailor, design and produce the projects that best suit their needs and expectations. We provide exploration, project design, production and assembly services with our experienced expert team that is growing day by day. We have adopted it as a sales principle to offer tailor-made solutions and turnkey projects for the needs of our customers all over the world. This is the most important factor that makes us a customer-driven company. In addition, the quality of our products is approved by the ISO certificates.
R&D studies are of great importance to us. Thanks to our strong design team, we make innovative designs in line with the needs of the sector and develop projects to produce versatile solutions for the needs of our customers.
We determine new product strategies in the light of the feedback from the market and the information we receive from the customers we meet. For farms and small-scale investors who want to make steam crushing, we have solutions that we call the Ecoflake System. Upon request from poultry farms, we developed a healthy and economical machine for the chickens to be culled. We have realized that investors want to take action in the field of biofuels due to increasing energy costs. We have designed and launched two types of biopellet machines for this need.
Another reason why our customers prefer us is the references they received from previous customers. Our performance in spare parts supply and after-sales technical service helps our customers to bring new customers.
WE REACHED 4 CONTINENTS WITH EFFECTIVE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION
In which year did Starmax start exporting and how did it spread to 4 continents over time? Can you give information about your export markets? How has the pandemic affected your business volume?
Our products having designs in different capacities and models allow us to appeal to a wide audience. Our company has focused on exports with increasing momentum in the last 7 years. Thanks to the active participation in international exhibitions, the proper use of social media, and the warm communication we have established with customers, we reached a level to export to 4 continents today.
The pandemic process caused uncertainties in the finalization phase of customer projects. Investors' enthusiasm decreased in this environment. Due to the increasing financial difficulties experienced by the governments, the payment conditions of the customers became more difficult and this whole process slowed down the achievement of our company's goals. The contraction in foreign exchange reserves, especially in African and Middle Eastern countries, brought along financial problems and this aggravated the conditions for customers to float a loan.
EXPORTER COMPANIES SHOULD BE REINFORCED
What kind of policy should the government pursue in order to increase machinery exports? What would be your suggestions to make the current incentives more efficient?
Different incentive formulas can be developed especially for companies that export without depending on imports, such as Starmax. Regulating the high energy costs in favor of the exporter, including steel and other steel-related production inputs, which constitute an important part of raw material inputs, into the scope of incentives as in other exporting countries like China, and adopting new tax regulations for increased personnel expenses can be listed as incentive items of first priority.
TO COMPROMISE ON QUALITY FOR COST WILL TARNISH OUR IMAGE
What kind of feedback can you give about the image of Turkish feed machinery manufacturers in the international market?
Customers abroad position the quality of Turkish feed machinery somewhere between European-American products and Chinese products. We explain and show our customers that we are no different from European companies with our quality level and after-sales services. However, some domestic manufacturers in our sector are trying to reach customers with low prices, especially by compromising on quality, and consequently, they are tarnishing the image of Turkish companies.
STEEL AND ENERGY COSTS ARE DAMAGING THE COMPETITION
The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia is on the agenda with regards to food security, as well as its humanitarian and political consequences. What position did the industry get after the outbreak of war? How do you evaluate the current and possible consequences of the war from your sector's point of view?
It is useful to approach this issue from two different perspectives. First of all, we should have a look at the effect of the war on overall production inputs. The additional costs brought by the fluctuations in foreign exchange rates and the Ukraine-Russia war hamper our competitiveness. The increase in energy costs and the constant increase in steel raw material costs independently of the increase in foreign exchange rates quite negatively affect the exporting companies in our industry. The increase in raw material inputs being higher than in foreign currency negatively affects the stable structure of our prices and, worse, our competitive conditions.
WE CONSTANTLY DEVELOP OUR PRODUCT RANGE
Do you have any significant projects you plan to implement in the forthcoming days? If so, can you give information?
At Starmax, we allocate a substantial budget for R&D studies. In the last 7 years, we have continuously designed new products and developed our product range. We develop technologies with which we can make significant contributions to energy and recycling projects. We aim to have an important share in the sector with the systems we have designed for both professional feed producers and low- and medium-scale enterprises. The point we have reached encourages us for the future and we are proud to be rewarded for our investments.
Do you have anything else to add?
Today's dynamic and tough competition conditions have brought out the concept of global competition on top of conventional competition. Competition in the global market is getting more intense every day and all companies aim to increase their export figures. In this context, as a company that aims to be successful in exports, we plan to increase our market share and successfully represent our country in new markets. Starmax will continue to be the leading light of the sector with its consistent and unique management strategy. Thank you.