In 2019, we discussed the state of the sector and the activities of the association with Mr. Fahir GÖK, president of the Lighting Equipment Manufacturers Association (AGİd), the umbrella association of the lighting industry.
Especially the Accredited laboratory project planned in 2019 is of great importance in terms of protecting domestic producers and the end consumer.
Who is Fahir Gok, can you tell us about yourself first.?
I did my primary, secondary and high school education at Fevziye Schools and Light High School. Then I graduated from Marmara University, which was the Academy of Economics and Commercial Sciences at the time. I have been in the business and industrial life since 1975 with Fersa Lighting company, which we established together with my brother Ferruh Gök. I'm in the 5th district with my son. I come from a family that's been in trade and industry for generations. As you know, until very recently, the lighting sector was a sector that was mentioned together with the electricity sector and we are now represented as a standalone sector with many years of effort and effort. Therefore, for many years, especially in Turkey, we imported and manufactured medium voltage, low voltage and lighting products in the electricity sector in the 80s and before, when imports were very limited. We already have a company that carries out the import and service of automatic coffee machines, i.e. industrial coffee machines, in addition to the lighting business. In addition, I am the president of the AGİd association, which we established in 1997. As you know, AGİD is also a founding member of the European Lighting Association. Apart from this, the 50th president of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry. I represent the Professional Committee Lighting Equipment Industry as a councillor. In summary, I have been representing the sector in the Istanbul Chamber of Industry for nearly 20 years. The work we have done in the Chamber of Industry has made a very important contribution to the separation of the lighting sector from the electrical sector. The fact that we are a standalone sector is a very important turning point in the growth and development of the sector.
-You are one of the pioneers in the establishment of the AGİD, what was your mission and objectives in establishing this association? What is your assessment of the association over the past 21 years?
-When we established AGİd, we started with 17 companies that are committed to this business. The association has made significant progress since we started. As such, while the number of companies exporting in the lighting sector in Turkey at that time was less than five fingers of one hand, the goal we set was for all our members to become exporters. Today we have over 80 members. Today, all members are exporters. This was, of course, an important goal of ours. Secondly, due to turkey's conditions at the time and the characteristics of the sector, there was not much communication and cooperation between the sector actors. We have tried to bring together industry actors to overcome these difficulties. I believe we've had a lot of success here, too. Because now the sector companies are cooperating with each other. Because we have to create synergy somewhere, that's what we had at the time, that's what we provided. The industry had a fair goal. We have overcome the problems we have faced in that regard and as a result we have reached a point where there should be only one lighting fair in Turkey. In fact, now we're working on taking it further. If we bring that project to life, Turkey will be in a very important position in geography (related to the fair). With this project, we will make a very serious contribution to both our country and the sector. In addition, our goal at the time was to be among the greats of this business in Europe as an association. We worked hard to do this, and le became a founding member of the Lighting Europe European Lighting Association, which was formed by changing the status and regulation of the European Lighting Association, and I served as the auditor of the association in question for two years. With this work, we believe that we have achieved a very important success on behalf of the sector as AGİd. We are still actively working in the association and we can reflect all developments in Europe to our actors in Turkey at the same time. This has been an important role and task for us. In addition, it is a great value for our association that we became a member of the Electrical Technical Subcommittee (ELTEK) established by the decision of the Council of Ministers in May 2013. In this board, which was created under the roof of the Ministry of Industry, we express all our thoughts, directions, demands and information on behalf of the sector.
Another important activity is waste management with the commercial enterprise we have established as AGİd. Our business AEEE, authorized by the Ministry of Environment, is the 5th as lighting sector within the framework of electrical electronic waste regulation. 6 in the category and in Small Appliances. We carry out our activities in the category. This task has put us in a very serious position and we are carrying out our activities systematically in a serious way. In addition to our two environmental engineers, we went to a professional structure with our secretary general Zeynep Akkaya and we have an organization that is growing day by day.
We have a laboratory project.
We want to implement an accredited laboratory project that can provide impartial service to the sector and approach everyone equally. In our work on this, there are state subsidies such as development agency, KOSGEB, treasury aid, etc. We are in contact with some institutions about this issue. We will take steps towards this in 2019. Because there are companies with accredited laboratories in the sector, but in theory, unfortunately, they cannot fully serve the sector. Trade is a certain competition, and although the laboratory conditions are very well preserved, no one wants to have their product tested in anyone's lab.
-Can we say that you will receive the mission of TSE with accredited laboratory? -When we set up the laboratory, we will have an accredited laboratory that serves under the same conditions as TSE. There is no competing for TSE, but we will be in a specialized position that produces solutions faster when serving the sector.
-By the way, there's something we're paying attention to. Our number of board members has increased from 5 in the past to 7. This is important for more participants. All board decisions are shared and published with all our stakeholders and members after the board of directors. We're following a very transparent way of working. The board of directors is open not only to the members of the board of directors, but also to the substitute members. They'll be invited to the meeting. Our goal is to make this an institution and organization that everyone contributes to with cooperation. In that sense, we've come a long way. None of our board members carry their own company card, they do not have company IDs. There is an AGID ID. In this way, we have a reputation in all official, semi-official, local institutions and organizations. Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Customs, Ministry of Energy, TEDAŞ, TSE etc. are one of the institutions on the distribution list whose idea is consulted here. This is a painting formed by many years of effort and we continue to work diligently and with pleasure to maintain this dignity with our teammates.
-We see that Turkey has grown from very small figures to larger sizes as an industry in the last 20 years. During this period, we experienced the greatest momentum 8-10 years ago with the introduction of LED technologies into the sector. Because it changed not only the dynamism of the sector, but also its dynamics. In fact, while there used to be 5-10 companies that dominated the market, today the companies we have never heard of are members of the sector. Some even do bigger things than before, but they're unknown. We are also trying to gather these new actors under the roof of our association.
-What are your thoughts on sectoral activity reports? Do you or will you attempt such an initiative?
– One of the biggest services that can be done to the sector is to prepare an annual report. In the past, when I was a member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Industry, we prepared a report together with the electricity sector. Now we're doing another one, we're doing a Lighting Industry report. This is a very important work for the industry. We're working that. By is ising this report, we will have performed one of the biggest services we will do to the sector. Because this work is not only very costly, but also useful. After completing this work report, we will send it to all foreign consulates, trade attachés, foreign missions in Turkey, their attachés in both English and Turkish.
-Transparent fluorescent lamps were produced 50 years ago. Then there was an outage at the production point. At the domestic production point, companies are making new investments and making initiatives. How do you assess this disruption to production in the sector and new initiatives?
-There is one thing I believe in in industry: producing is the easiest job in the world. The technologies are in the middle now. People who didn't want to show their factories now compete for a tour of their factories. I know it from my own manufacturing process. Our guests from abroad found it unnecessary to see the manufacturing, the factory and the machine. "We know about you and the stuff we're going to buy, why would I see the machine?" The world has now reached a point where technology can be found, easily accessible. The important thing here is: Rational or not? So can you sell the product you produce at world prices? Can you be competitive? Can you keep it up? It's not all about producing. It's much more important that it's sustainable. At this point, this is why we are exiting manufacturing. You're either going to do business in the economy of scale, or you're going to stay very boutique. Of course, if you can meet the requirements of staying in a boutique, you will live. If you stay between the two, you'll be lost. Because the process is happening so fast. What used to be a monopoly on only three or five people is now what anyone can do. But there's feasibility behind everything. There were companies in Turkey that could do this job in the past, and they were. But they couldn't live in competitive conditions. If the same conditions are created again today (if there are manufacturer demands in the sector), then feasibility has been made and rationality has been seen. Because 20 years ago, Turkey had a population of 40-50 million, but today it has reached 80 million. A Gross National Age of 150-200 billion people that day reached $1 trillion wherever it is today. In other words, Turkey has grown a lot. However, the geography of the environment (Caucasus, Balkans, Middle East, North Africa, etc.) has grown a lot. As a country, we have become operational in many areas, and that means the growth of our market. There's another element. You can't ignore that, either. The construction sector in Turkey is very large. We are second in the world (after China) in contracting service. The fact that our companies are doing business abroad and taking on very large projects is a very big reason for the growth of the sector. So the demand has grown, nothing is the same anymore.
-They make requests from us at this point from time to time. We are facing demands not only from home but also from abroad. For example, if you want to use They call from associations in China, Taiwan, etc. and ask, "What is the current situation of the sector?" and we share our information with them. In addition, there are foreigners who research the conditions of cooperation in Turkey. That's what's reasonable. This issue is important for a foreigner to partner with a local citizen and to travel fast distances. Because Turkey's industry and infrastructure are now available, all its actors such as electronics, metals, sub-industry etc. are very strong and besides, it has grown very fast. As the industry grows, naturally, actors grow with it.
– According to the data of the AGİD, import figures decreased from 14% in 2014 to 10% by 2017. Can we talk about the impact of this infrastructure here?
-It must have an effect. One more thing I believe in: Turkey will be a logistics and production center in the lighting sector. There are great opportunities especially for companies in the Far East (China, Korea, Taiwan, etc.). Because for them, this is a jumping market to Europe, a hub. What kind of headquarters? This is a place where you can reach the most population in the world within 3,000 km. The infrastructure is very strong, the transportation facilities are very wide (airline, sea route, road, railway, etc.) Today, for example, there is a project to return to the railway. There will be big changes in the dynamics of the world. The products you have installed from China will arrive in a month and will reach Europe via Turkey in ten days thanks to the railway line. It is necessary to read these dynamics well. The truth of each day changes, you need to constantly update your information. It's not enough to be big in the industrial sector anymore. The important thing is that it's sustainable. It is now very important for company managers to read balance sheets, accounting information, etc., and if these do not happen, they will not happen. When investing, if you're just excited about "let me produce and be big," there's no recompense. It's a matter of culture. If you are building a factory, you need to calculate your machine, working capital, building, equipment, workers, production, storage, etc.
-A study was carried out with the public side on the import of poor quality goods. What was your position as AGİd in this work to protect the domestic industrialist? Do you have the opportunity to measure the efficiency of these studies as an industry? How are the flashbacks?
-We are one of the leading ones in this regard. We have been in intensive contact with the Ministry of Industry about this unfair competition for many years. Significant distances have been made in this regard with the cooperation of both TSE and the Ministry of Industry. In particular, poor quality goods from the Far East (we do not mean every product from the Far East) were returned to container containers in unimaginable quantities from customs. At one point, there was one issue that we emphasized in particular: "Turkey has become an LED dump". You bring the product, three days later you throw it away. Well, that's a shame. Saying "I buy the product cheap" doesn't solve the problem. In this sense, there has been a lot of awareness process. Now the Ministry of Industry is doing a very serious work on this issue. The Ministry has a request from our association. This is a proud development for our association, AGİD. Together with the Ministry of Industry, we will hold awareness meetings in major cities such as Ankara, Bursa, Samsun, Adana, Kayseri, Izmir, etc. In these meetings, there will be a process of raising awareness of all parties, stakeholders (importers, industrialists, consumers, etc.). What will the importer pay attention to when importing the goods in this process? What will the consumer pay attention to in consumption, in production of the manufacturer? How will government agencies control them? We're going to organize seminars where all of these subjects are involved. Although this work may seem like a burden to us, I think we have taken on a very important task and will contribute.
-You mentioned the agİd's work on waste management. Are there any considerations you would like to add to emphasize the importance of your work?
The work we do in waste management should not be considered less than the other work of AGİD. We can even say it's more important. We currently serve almost 12-13 million people. We work with all the major municipalities imaginable. Significant budgets have begun to be formed, and we are taking on very serious responsibilities. If one of our projects in this regard is implemented, AGİd will have produced its own disposal facility. There's a very good example of that in England. We are in contact with Peter Hunt, who is currently le president. They have very serious experience in both their laboratories and waste as an association. We strive to implement this in Turkey. Because we have a good example of that. There's no need to rediscover America. You'll either benefit from the good examples in front of you, or you'll waste your time and learn. We prefer to follow good examples.
Meanwhile, our public spotlight, which we have received approval from TRT, has started to be shown on television. We have containers, garbage collection, waste collection boxes. We distribute to municipalities, schools, etc. We're also working seriously with the mayor's office. We cover the cost entirely ourselves. At this point, we have a significant budget. We also cooperated with PTT on shipping. PTT has branches all the way to the farthest reaches. We're thinking of creating collection centers through here. We think it will be a great convenience both in terms of collection and referral to the center. We have metal containers, cardboard containers, awareness raising posters, brochures on the subject and field visits. Behind all this work is a very serious effort and sacrifice. However, we also see that the results turn all fatigue into a pleasant process.
-You said that it is also important to reflect imports for the development of the lighting sector. What is your assessment of imports in terms of both unfair competition prevention and control mechanism?
-If there is industry in a country, smart industrialists never oppose imports. He only opposes unfair competition. The regulations are clear in Turkey. We have acquis, CE standards of the European Union. Products that meet these standards must be brought in. There are label regulations that complement that, which is obvious. I mean, it's obvious what you're going to control. I think healthy practices (there may be unintentional exceptions) are being carried out at the point of inspections. Control mechanisms minimize errors. Solution processes are also developed for these minimized errors. This is how the system should work.
–Does AGİd have such an initiative for its members in order to gain brand value for your companies?
-This initiative is a mission of the AGİD not soon but in the medium term. That's what we want to set up the lab for. We have a logo development project, but we can't do that without setting up a lab. In other words, the ADID will become an institution that is behind the goods produced by the producers. Therefore, it will be a privilege to be a member of the AGİD. Because when the consumer sees the AGİD logo on a commodity, he will know that it is; it is the property of an accredited laboratory, has standards and is the property of a manufacturer affiliated with this institution. We want to start the process of creating that awareness.
-Design point is one of the biggest problems in our country. Will there be an initiative of the AGİD to get the support of your members at this point?
-We have been cooperating with the Designers Association in terms of product design for the last few years. We invite them to our meetings. We say let's implement projects together during the fair process. But "Nothing comes to life before the time comes, and if it does, it's stillborn." Designer need means when the industry needs design. You have to make the right move at the right time, you have to walk with the needs. First you will receive demand from the bottom, create its source and invest. If the OSCE has come to a place today, it has a huge role to play in embracing this business model. First, we set our target in the medium term and we do infrastructure works for that goal. When we reach the medium term, we realize our goal. This is the path to success in our initiatives.
-Do you have any initiatives with your members at the point abroad (trip, project, etc.)?
-We are currently developing an URGE project. We have an initiative under the presidency of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry and in cooperation with Agid. With this project, we create our project framework under the headings of trips, fairs and interviews, especially to export-oriented target countries. Currently, 30 close companies have applied to participate in this project, which is a very positive and beautiful development for our sector.
– We know that you have an initiative called 'Export Move'. Can you consider the subheadings of the export movement?
We have many topics related to the export move. 'Industry Report' is one of them. For example, when you send the industry report to chambers of commerce abroad; When a company from any country in the world wants to invest in Turkey, it first goes to that country's Trade Attaché to collect information. Is the firm worth investing in? Isn't it worth it? He can find all the answers to your questions in that report. That's where the importance of the lighting report comes in. This work of the Semi-public Chamber of Industry satisfies the other side in terms of knowledge with its reliability. In addition, together with ISO, we organize joint meetings with wide participation to inform the sector about exports.
-Can you share the problems experienced by the sector and your solutions to these problems?
The most important problem of the sector is the rapid change it is experiencing. Rapid technological change and change of dynamics.
-The solution is simple: Change. Get rid of the classic and move to a new area. There is a transition from conventional systems to a new area where electronic infrastructure is very strong. The memories are broken, we need to get rid of the habits. No more making a mold and selling it for 15 years. The industry has become a mold for each project. Imagine that there is a project and you only produce one product for that project. The lifespan of the product is about a project! That's what you need to come up with strategies to keep up. You have to set your course very well and move very quickly. You have to step up in a time of change, you're going to stay in an industry in the long run, there's no such thing as. Every job has a lifespan. You have to be fast and careful. In the meantime, you need to constantly collect data, think analytically and make the right decisions. The cost of making mistakes is too high, and if you make a mistake, you're out of the race no matter who you are or how big you are.
-How do the members of the AGİD benefit from the AGİD. How should non-members of the AGİD approach the AGİD in this regard?
Together with our board members, we make member visits every month or two months. We go visit our members and get their ideas. We share with them what we know, encourage them to be more involved in Agid. In short, we strive to evoke a good sense of cooperation and belonging.
-This is one of our questions: "Why should you be a member of the AGİD?"
The first is that you can't As I said above, you must be a member to gain a sense of belonging. You should be aware that the AGİD logo will give you something in the future. It's an investment business. If you're staying in this industry, you're going to be a member of this fraternity. The second is that you can't Thanks to this association, you'll have more up-to-date information than you can collect. Before the laws and regulations come to us, we come to us and share it with the members and get their opinions. The most valuable thing for today: Information and this information are shared up-to-date with our members.
Many people began to feel the importance of the association. In the past, we tried to advertise the association to become members of the association, and today, unfamiliar companies want to become members. This is a very good development for us.
I'm a person who likes to share information. That's what my philosophy of life and life is based on. I'm against the logic of "I'll keep what I know." We share all the information we have with the members, share all kinds of information that will contribute to the sector, create a vision for the future, and try to guide our members. In short, we are making efforts to pave the way for them.
The fact that our members can receive services from an independent laboratory, as well as the existence of an institution to which they can connect in waste management, current information sharing, very valuable meetings held, being a stakeholder of an institution are sufficiently valid reasons for membership in our association.
-How do you see 2019 for the lighting industry? One thing I've learned from all these years of accumulation: everything has a lifespan. Individuals, living beings, countries, communities, families, cultures, geographies, etc. all have a lifespan. That's where you look at things, when you look at history well, when you see the big picture, it's different from what you see. Continental Europe and North America are heading for a serious collapse, it's very clear. If you look at some historical development, a little bit of economic value, it's obvious. Over the next 15-20 years, Europe and America will be significantly behind in economic values and social sense. From this table, very good results can be created as Turkey. All it takes is rational thinking, planning the future well and taking the appropriate steps in a timely manner.
As a result, there is no power to prevent Turkey's rise both economically and socially. I don't see any big projects about the future that Turkey is not in. Therefore, I am hopeful for both the sector and Turkey.