Fenix Company, which is owned by Businesswoman Nesrin Ayan Özben from Antalya, makes a name for herself in the regional market with a 30 percent share in the paint and construction chemicals sector.

Uzbekistan Markem, the new target of Fenix, which exports to Europe, was looking for male employees. I said, "I already work like a man." As soon as I applied, they hired us right away. Mr. Dursun said to us, "Let the owners of this company be German and you will become the engineers sent by the Germans."

While making our first breakthrough as a company, I was driving a car named Murat 124 which was looking very old and shabby.

Except for the large-scale companies in the construction chemicals sector in Turkey, I have had a lot of work for small-scale production companies.

The products are water-based. We have never produced synthetic lead-containing products. We do not produce anything harmful to human health.

Either I will sell what I have earned, or I will not pay as they did not pay me. I have sold everything I earned.

One of our dealers helped us. We came here in 2011 from Germany. Even the word "organized" on my business card lifted us up.

“Phoenix fits your story,” said İlhan Kurtar. Fenix, the mythological bird born from its ashes, became our new brand.

The biggest problem of the sector is the lack of education. Making mistakes in product selection. The mistakes made from top to toe affect us negatively.

The thing I want to develop the most is the heat isolation product. I don't find the sheathing and heat isolation products made right now.

My main purpose is to maintain the company where employees are happy and live well at a sustainable size. While Turkey has grown with the construction sector in recent years, the new established companies also contribute to the sector with their production.

Businesswoman Nesrin Ayan Özben, who has been a successful businesswoman in the male-dominated sector for many years, has an important place in the market with Fenix brand paints and construction chemicals. We talked with Nesrin Ayan Özben, who made it to the final of 15 people among 5,600 people in the women entrepreneurs’ competition opened by Garanti Bank in 2011, about her business life, initiatives and products from the beginning to the present.

How did you start your career?

I was born in 1964 in Elazig. I completed my education in Izmir. I graduated from Ege University Chemical Engineering. In the last year of my school, my father's work field changed and we had to move to Safranbolu. I found a job in Izmir through someone I knew in Safranbolu. Firstly, I worked candidly in the manufacturing and R&D of Ambosan Company for 4 years. After even if I had had experience in that company, I was not given a raise in my salary. At this point, I encountered a job opportunity. Markem Company in Uzbekistan was the current Weber company at that time. They were looking for male staff. “I work like a man,” I said. When I applied, their coordinator called me. Turns out he was wondering about me, they were talking about me. During the meeting, one of the managers asked what is in the formula of one of the products we had produced. When I said, "I can't tell you that," I did an incredible thing. Tevfik Bey said, "Let him start the job immediately with the highest salary of the department we have received." As soon as I arrived, I saw that some of the formulas there were wrong. I determined the deficiencies and surpluses, I redesigned them. At the end of 1 year, they gave a bonus that I could not imagine. “What is this?” I said. They said, "You have done such things in the formulas that if you stay here for a lifetime, you would have earned more than that." 1 year later, they promoted me as chief. I had the most pleased business life of my life.

How did you start your own business?

It is very interesting that when I worked in Ambosan, I bought a Tamis brand sweater for 50 liras in Izmir. I went to Safranbolu, the same sweater was sold for 250 liras. I bought sweaters for all my paycheck. My mother sold them for 200 liras in those days. We did it for 2 or 3 times. But then my father stopped sending my money. I gave up asking neither. At that time, I said “there is good money in business”. At Markem, I worked in the laboratory, in the field. They took us to Germany and Holland for education. I realized that Turkey is not inferior to Europe in paint production and construction chemicals. I had an incredible sense of self-confidence that I was enough there. By the way, such companies do not promote people who have been trained from below as managers.

We became German engineers

How did your partnership go?

Things didn't take long with our friends. We said, "We cant do business with them". We were totally broken. The people we had worked with let us down. I thought of someone I know. Markem's next door neighbor. In one of his speeches, he said to me, “There is a guy named Dursun Kanal in Antalya, Kanal Boya. Go and see him,” he said. I went with my brother. We found Dursun Kanal. The room were so happy to see us as if they found gold. They had a factory and machinery. Our plan was hire them and do business. He said to us, "You don't know this market, let's be partners". We said okey. Dursun Kanal had twins. The twins, me, and my brother, we founded Dekan Boya in 1998 with 4 partners. Mr. Dursun told us, “Don't be the owner of this company. The owners of this company are German and become the engineers sent by the Germans," he said. The company has a name which means the dean of whole. We worked as engineers of Dekan Boya for 4-5 months, sent by the Germans. But Dursun Bey had incredible debts. At that time we were in Varsak. We stayed 6 months. We saw that it wasn’t working , my brother and I brought it either take it or give it away. We bought the company with its debts. We also owe thanks to Mr. Dursun. We rented a place in Akdeniz Industrial Zone, we stayed there for 13 years. One day, my father met his manager in Safranbolu in Antalya. Emlakbank became a guarantor for us, we took out a loan, we bought a panel van. I had a 1972 Murat 124 brand car. It was shabby and quite old and the doors wouldn't close. The first turning point in our lives was to buy a panel van. We suddenly realized that we have 10 construction sites at the industrial zone. No one wanted to buy paint, but they were only asking the brand. We were not able to sell any paint for 6 months.

Make it with quality sell it at high price.

How has your luck turned?

At that time, we met Murat Bölünmez, the owner of MOil Fuel Stations. MOil bought all the paints of the stations and factories from us. Everyone wants high quality for cheap. Murat Bölünmez said, "It should be very high quality but very expensive". Murat Bölünmez's contribution to fund of our company is very high. Tufan Bey, the owner of Pozitif Elevator, said the same thing. These two people have contributed a lot to our company.

Is there only paint or construction chemicals?

We made applications in paint until 2006, we did not give dealership. There was a company called Altınaylar in construction chemicals. They grind calcite, while grinding, 800 microns of it remains and a pile of remained microns occurred. They asked me "can we make our waste ceramic adhesive". I said we'll try. We did it, we tried it on a construction site. The foreman liked it incredibly. I wrote its formulas, they set up a facility and started producing it. Those who heard this started to ask me for advice. I visited the companies that do this job in Turkey. I took out a competitor product and placed it in this product. But never by the formula I know, but by guiding. I have a lot of work in the construction chemicals sector in Turkey, except for the big ones. We started this business in 2002. We took a place in Varsak, we did it. We made our first leap there by buying a hammer and forklift. I made the construction chemicals first in Antalya.

What kind of products do you have?

There are various types of ceramic adhesive mortars in the content of construction chemicals. In construction chemicals, There are joint fillers, waterproofing used before ceramics on wet floors, roof insulation, technical repair mortars, sheathing liquid, adhesive decorative plasters. We have been producing ready-made plaster for three years. They mix it with water and apply it. There are sudden gag materials. It is called shadow powder, crystallized in the market. All these falls under the dust group. In paints, There are all kinds of interior, exterior, ceiling, wall paints. They have matte, glossy, semi-matt, exterior textured paints, and varnishes. All our products are water-based. We have never produced synthetic-based, lead-containing products. We do not produce anything harmful to human health in our factory.

Big damage in 2008 crisis

When did you leave the adjustment?

I split up with my brother in 2003. Until 2006, money was made from applied paint jobs. But one day, at the construction site of a practitioner I know, one of his employees fell and died. It has nothing to do with us. On that day, “I can no longer have my construction site. I will not work on field,” I said. I haven't done any field work since 2006. If you are not on field, you need to produce a lot of paint. Therefore, mass production is required. We can't sell a lot of paint. Everyone wants to buy from national brands. Then we decided to start a business that we would sell, so we started to produce construction chemicals. Our brand at the time was Dekaser. The brand started with difficulties, it was not going well. We made just first class of our production. We created dealerships in ceramic showrooms in Antalya. We've advanced in tile adhesive. At that time, production was not spread locally in terms of location. They were dispersing from Izmir, Istanbul, Eskişehir to Turkey. Saved on shipping to our dealers. They began to earn what they would pay for shipping. When this spread like this, other companies gradually started to have production places here. Meanwhile, big paint companies have introduced economic classes. We have created quite an infrastructure in construction chemicals. Almost all ceramic dealers became my dealers. We made money until the 2008 crisis.

When did you come to the Organized Industrial Zone?

In 2008, my three big wholesalers went bankrupt. A company named On Yapı had me produce a product called Onser. They bought the product for 8 months, they gave their checks. They never paid. They went bankruptcy. I was left with checks from On Yapı. I was depressed. I was about to lose everything. Either I'll sell everything I've earned so far and move on, or I will not pay as they did not pay to me. I sold everything I had earned so far. Good thing I sold it, the most important thing in this market is credit. I paid all my debts. I applied to Organized, the place was open. I thought about not going. Then he said, “I had nothing when I came here. Now I know this job, I know people from this sector," I said. One of my dealers supported me. We came here in 2011. Even the writing of organized on our business card carried us to incredible heights. We couldn't think big because I was a public service's child. This is 6 acres. I was saying, "I can't afford to pay for 6 acres. I can pay 3 acres". Because I was doing it in 250 square meters. Now I wish I had bought 10 acres. We made our second move here 4 years ago with robot investment. We produce 125 tons per day. The robot picks up the product from the belt and places it on the pallet. It does the work of two people in one shift.

Fenix ​​is ​​30 percent in the market

How did the Fenix brand come about?

We are new to Organize. We've been through so much trouble. We've left everything behind. We want to be born again. “Phoenix fits your story,” said my friend İlhan Kurtar. The eponym of our company is İlhan Kurtar. Phoenix, the mythological bird rising from its ashes, lay on our heads. We made everything Fenix. We even put the Dekan in the background. We did not continue with Dekan and Dekaser in Organized. All paint and construction chemicals became Fenix. At Fenix, we have serious decisions and a constitution. We certainly do not supply goods to construction sites, especially in the dust group. It has to go through one of our dealers. This put us far above our competitors. This behavior was the biggest reason why we held on in the market. After 2011, the paint and powder group continued as Fenix. Our paint group continues in the form of sales to big projects, application companies, construction sites, and construction chemicals group dealerships. We currently have a Mediterranean region distributor. We serve about 60 areas. We have dealerships in Antalya, Isparta, Afyon, Uşak, Konya and Fethiye. We want to go to Izmir as well. However, going to remote areas increases costs due to transportation. Shipping is a big problem in our business. Going over 200 kilometers is not very profitable.

What is your share in the industry?

As Fenix, our products exist as a second product in all ceramic stores. There are also places where we are the first product. It depends on the seller. There are such customers that are brand addicted. We exist as the second product, but we are more in terms of tonnage. We dominate 30% of the market in this region. All of our products are TSE certified. We have CE certificate. We also have quality management standard ISO certificate. You cannot work in a place like this without them anyway. Exports to Europe have started for a year and it will continue. We made the top-grade best tile adhesive. When you look at the economic situation, the only way out seems to be export. After March, we will expand Fenix in Europe. We have a total of 56 kinds of products. 36 of them are in the construction chemicals and 20 of them are in the dye group. But it is possible to diversify a lot more. But assortment means incredible bag cost in stock.

photography dream in europe

What are your next goals?

Our factory area is 6 acres. 1,600 square meters closed. We will close another 500 square meters. Our biggest input in terms of volume is aggregate. There is no problem in the summer, but the stoves do not work on rainy days in the winter. We will make 10 more days of stock space for raw material. We also did construction. Our houses are not sold yet. They need to be sold. My first goal in the company is to get rid of the banks. My second goal is to expand this product in Europe. In construction chemicals, I do not aim to bring the product out of this region in the country. Our brand is very good and well-known. I have the idea of giving our brand to local producers in various regions. We have a plan to do this business in Uzbekistan. We can set up a facility there but it's not mature yet. But my priority is Europe. I want to see photos of Fenix in Europe. My main wish is to maintain a company where employees are happy, work in good conditions and live well at a sustainable size. Unfortunately, there is no one in my family who can take my business after me. I'm thinking of establishing a company with a new partner, selling my brand to that company, and leasing it to that company. I am planning something like this so that it does not disappear when I am unable to do business.

love of cheap possession

What are the industry's problems?

The biggest problem of the sector is the lack of education and making mistakes in product selection. The mistakes made from the foundation to the roof affect us. We are at the last stage. Ceramics made without leveling the floors will be broken. Adhesive was not good. Contractors giving three liras of work for one lira. Things are not done properly because of everyone's intention of making it cheaper. Our products are incomplete products. Total quality in incomplete products depend on the workmanship, the use of the product, the preparation of the floor. It is very important that the product is chosen and applied in the right place, and the employee should be good, besides it is decided according to its facade, and climate of the region where it is applied. The workers must be truly certified.

Have a new product idea?

Keep improving the product. The heat isolation product that I want to develop the most. There is no proper sheathing and heat isolation products right now. We all know that styrofoam and gas-inflated materials disappear after a while which means these products are only remain temporarily. In my opinion, they must come naturally. In fact, there are such things, but large companies are prevented from leaving them. For example, plasters should be made with pumice and perlite. Since these materials are inflated with gas, after a while, gas escapes and shrinkages occur, and eventually, ruptures from the ground begin. We'll see what happens soon. It is possible to make heat isolation in the form of construction chemicals. It's possible, but those who did had to quit because of competition.