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Family ties at heart of business
  Mr. Ferit F. Sahenk
Mr. Ferit F. Sahenk Chairman of Dogus Holding

Family businesses are among Turkey's most successful commercial enterprises. Many of them started small and have diversified to encompass an impressive range of sectors.

Dogus Group, owned by the Sahenk family, was established by Ayhan Sahenk in 1951 primarily as a construction contractor, and has grown rapidly. Its acquisition of Garanti Bank transformed it into an important player in the financial services industry and banking now accounts for 70 percent of its business; Dogus also has food retailing, publishing, construction, marketing, distribution, and tourism operations.

Another important aspect is the Ayhan Sahenk Foundation which supports education, culture, art, and health projects. "I think social commitment is one of the most important things a company can do," says Ferit Sahenk, Chairman of Dogus Group and son of Ahyan Sahenk.

Although the firm has a broad remit, it is important to keep focused. "We decided to only be active in businesses in which we would be in the top two positions, otherwise you cannot build efficiency," says Mr. Sahenk.

Mr. Sakip Sabanci
Mr. Sakip Sabanci
Chairman of Sabanci Holding

Sakip Sabanci, Chairman of Sabanci Holding, agrees. "Having too many areas is a mistake. Currently we are in eight different sectors but we have managed to maintain our profitability."

The Sabanci family is the major shareholder of Sabanci Holding, the parent company of Sabanci Group. More than 50 companies gather under the group's umbrella, including financial services, food, retailing, and information technology enterprises.

Like Dogus Group, Sabanci has contributed to Turkey's social development, establishing the highly rated Sabanci University.

"If others follow our example, the situation will improve considerably for Turkey's young and very dedicated population," says Mr. Sabanci.

The Koç family has managed to create the largest and most diversified conglomerate in Turkey, with 98 companies covering 14 industries.

Family-run organizations are involved at the highest level of a range of economic sectors, from the automobile industry to tourism
(Photo: Dogus Holding)

The Koç Group pioneered the production of the first refrigerators and cars in Turkey and in 1981, founded Koçbank, which has become one of the most powerful forces in the sector. Customer service is one of the pillars of its success. "We have to give our clients the kinds of services that other banks will not give," says Dr. Rüsdü Saraçoglu, Chief Financial Officer at Koç Holding.

The Koç IT Group (ITG) is a pioneering element of Koç Group, which aims to be a catalyst for IT development in the country.

"The next stage to focus on is the e-lifestyle, for example e-learning, e-ticketing and e-commerce," says Ali Koç, President of Koç ITG.

The Koç Group also takes part in educational, health and environmental initiatives.

Erol Akbas, Chairman and CEO of the company, who has groomed his three children to take the reins from him, set up Akbaslar Group in 1962. The firm specializes in textiles, but has also entered tourism and food production.

Erol Akbas
Erol Akbas
Chairman and CEO of Akbaslar Group

"We would like to diversify and invest in different sectors in order to minimize our risk," says Mr. Akbas.

Silkar Holding also prizes its variety of projects - it imports industrial products, manufactures machinery, is the biggest marble producer in Turkey, and owns four hotels. The company's President, Burhan Silahtaroglu believes the firm will maintain its success in the future, given a solid economic and political environment. "Turkey is a big local market which can develop much further. What we want is the stability to enable us to reach our full potential."

Mr. Silahtaroglu is looking to his three children to take over when he retires.

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