Nurol Makina made significant steps forward in the 2010s, especially in the latter part of the decade, with the launch of new-generation vehicles, in particular EJDER YALÇIN. Based on the recent success of the company, it is predicted that this progress will continue in the export market in the first half of the 2020s. We talked to Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina, about the efforts of the company in the export market.
MSI TDR: Mr. Akyol, the “Top 1000 Turkish Exporters 2019“ survey of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) states that Nurol Makina’s exports reached $156,282,373 in 2019, ranking it in 6th place among all the defence and aerospace companies. This survey shows Nurol Makina’s exports surpassing those of some of the Turkish firms on the Defense News Top 100 list. Can you tell us about the current situation in Nurol Makina’s export operations?
Engin AYKOL: Nurol Makina did indeed become one of the top exporters of land vehicles in the Turkish defence sector in 2019. While I am not unable to provide any detailed information about the scope of our contracts, I can say that we have signed deals for the delivery of over 500 units of EJDER YALÇIN, NMS 4×4, EJDER TOMA and EJDER KUNTER over the next several years. As Nurol Makina, there has been no product that we have produced but not exported, and we are continuing to conduct export studies for all vehicles in our current product portfolio. With regards to the areas in which we carry out business development operations, we are actively working in dozens of potential countries extending across four continents.
MSI TDR: What is the share of exports in Nurol Makina’s turnover?
Engin AYKOL: Over 90 percent of our revenues came from exports in 2019, and this rate will be around the same this year.
I would like to emphasise something here. Recently, we have not only increased the share of exports in our revenues, but have also consistently raised our revenues overall, meaning that both our revenues and exports are increasing.
MSI TDR: What does this mean in terms of commercial sustainability?
Engin AYKOL: Our high success in exports has been achieved gradually in recent years, and we are striving to ensure this success continues.
We have been actively engaged in business development activities in the foreign markets since 2017. The high performance shown by our vehicles and the selfless work of my colleagues will ensure the continuation of success we have achieved in this area.
Nurol Makina will be a company with a high rate of exports this year and in the following years. Our products, which ensure our prominence in international competition, and our customer-centred and dynamic organisational structure allow us to work strongly on opportunities in several countries, covering a wide geographical area. Our customer diversity gives us strength in terms of our commercial sustainability. We are not dependent on a single geographical area or a single customer profile.
Our customer diversity gives us strength in terms of our commercial sustainability. We are not dependent on a single geographical area or a single customer profile.
MSI TDR: There are various approaches to exports in the defence sector. For example, “You cannot export a product if you cannot sell it at home” or “You cannot sell a product abroad if you don’t have the lowest price”. To what degree do these models apply to you?
Engin AYKOL: There is something I should first emphasise: Nurol Makina has always prioritised meeting the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), the Turkish National Police (TNP) and the General Command of the Gendarmerie (GCG). While these approaches that you mention are generally true, we have experienced situations where they are not valid for Nurol Makina. For example, we were able to export NMS 4×4 while it was still at the design stage, and before it was included in our product portfolio in Turkey. Another example is that, we also exported the second version of ILGAZ to Africa before it started to be used at home, that is, before it entered the inventories of TAF, TNP or GCG.
Of course, the first user of our EJDER YALÇIN vehicle, which has achieved our greatest export success so far, was TNP in 2014, as you know. Our vehicles in the inventories of Police Special Operations, the GCG and Turkish Air Force are working successfully in many important areas in Turkey. Both the active domestic use of these vehicles and their high performance have provided, and continue to provide us with significant advantages in our export efforts. We see all the time that TAF, TNP and GCG serve as an important reference for foreign clients.
One of the most important criteria of our customers is, of course, price. However, we prioritize the quality and reliability of our products before price. We are aware of the fact that our vehicles are used by security personnel who serve heroically for their countries and what kind of sacrifices they serve under the harshest of conditions. We want these heroes to perform their missions with our vehicles in the most efficient way, and in the meantime, not even the slightest deficiency in our vehicles that will risk their life safety. We take this level of quality and reliability as a basis, and aim to be as competitive as possible. Therefore, if we consider only the price, although we do not offer the lowest priced offers abroad, it is our biggest advantage that we offer the best prices considering the level of quality and reliability.
Success is a Team Effort
MSI TDR: What do you believe are the most important factors underlying Nurol Makina’s export success?
Engin AYKOL: Our success in exports can be attributed to the efforts of my colleagues, who believe in continuous development, and who work with utmost dedication. We act based on the principle that we should do better than previous in every task that we do as part of the company. We are constantly investing in the technical infrastructure and management systems of our company. We run training programmes specific to Nurol Makina for the development of our workforce, and support our colleagues participation in training programmes outside the company, as this allows them to witness different practices in the sector. We encourage our colleagues, who go through a comprehensive training process, to adapt what they have learned to their own tasks and not to avoid using their initiative.
Another factor underlying our success in exports is the diversity of our products, and our ability to meet various needs with the same platform. As you know, EJDER YALÇIN and NMS 4×4 can be developed for users with several configurations on the same platform. A combat vehicle alone may meet the needs of the end user, but the platform becomes more attractive for the end user if it can meet various needs. Therefore, we have a product range that can meet all the needs of end users in each class.
Another important factor is after-sales services. Our vehicles often encounter challenging field conditions and attacks, etc., and may need immediate and effective support, both onsite and in maintenance facilities. It is of paramount important for the end user that these kinds of problems be resolved quickly and in a timely manner. The after-sales service we provide for our vehicles in foreign inventories is another element of our strengths. As a matter of fact, we have received additional orders from every country we exported our vehicles, and continue to do so.
MSI TDR: How does the intensity of your exporting operations affect Nurol Makina as a corporation?
Engin AYKOL: We carry out business development operations across a very wide geographical area. As the needs of every country is different, we need to implement changes in our vehicles for each customer in a fast and cost-effective manner. This requires optimum organisational readiness in all our operations; from product development to planning, supply and production, from quality management system to after-sales support and from finance-accounting to administrative works. I can proudly say that Nurol Makina has recently taken very bold steps to improve its organisational readiness, and we continue our structural development while maintaining changes in our corporate processes in this regard.
One of the most important factors behind our successes in foreign markets is the fact that we consider the needs of the user as a whole, including technical requirements, financial constraints, contractual requirements and logistical expectations, and come up with solutions that satisfy such needs by maintaining high organisational readiness.
The Goal is Increased Exports and Domestic Sales
MSI TDR: How do your export-related operations reflect on the domestic market?
Engin AYKOL: Our high rate of exports is, of course, well received at home. Nevertheless, I would like to state that although we sought to achieve a high amount of exports, we did not expect to have such a high ratio of exports in our overall revenues. We had expectations that we would be serving domestic users with our high-performance vehicles, but were unable to make such offers to domestic users due to the conjuncture in recent years. We expect our exports to increase even further in the coming years, but also for the ratio of exports to overall revenues to decrease as a result of domestic sales.
Each user has different requirements, and this makes us better at what we do. The diversity of users that we have amassed in recent years has contributed significantly to our range of products and services. For example, while the last EJDER YALÇIN vehicles that we provided to Turkish security forces were third-generation vehicles, we are now offering to foreign clients a new configuration that we have named EJDER YALÇIN 4+, and we hope to have the opportunity to provide these advanced versions of our vehicles to our domestic users.
MSI TDR: How do you perceive the future of Nurol Makina in terms of exports?
Engin AYKOL: In terms of business development and marketing, I believe we are the most effective company in the sector. We have a highly experienced team that can turn business opportunities into orders through the pragmatic use of limited resources. There are many potential customers that we have ongoing negations with for all our vehicles. In terms of fairs and panels, of course, all of us are experiencing this troublesome period brought about by the pandemic, but this does not mean we have to slow down. We are continuing our works at full steam through the use of both digital media and remote working methods.
Needs naturally change under the ever-changing conditions of the present day. Accordingly, we continue to work on the development of different vehicles and new configurations of our existing vehicles, and when the time comes, we will have the opportunity to unveil them. The export market also plays a significant role in the development of new products. As I mentioned before, while the priority is our own security forces, we carry out these works to ensure that all of our products can compete with the best-in-class also in the international market.
MSI TDR: From a more general perspective, what are your plans and predictions for the future of Nurol Makina in both the domestic and foreign markets?
Engin AYKOL: I am proud of the way Nurol Makina’s showing up with vehicles of its own design that are performing well both at home and abroad, and the point it has reached in terms of financial size. Needless to say, considering the potential of my colleagues and Nurol Holding, I don’t see this level as sufficient, and can definitely say that our growth will continue in the coming years. The land vehicles market is the most competition-intensive segment of the Turkish defence sector, and while I cannot go into too much detail about our future plans, what I can add is that there are other users that we have identified in our strategic plan and that we need to reach at home and abroad. Within the next 5 years we will see Nurol Makina becoming an actor that leads the field in terms of the diversity of vehicles and configurations it can supply, and its production capacity, maintaining its position as a global brand of Turkey and the Turkish defence sector.
In terms of business development and marketing, I believe we are the most effective company in the sector. We have a highly experienced team that can turn business opportunities into orders through the pragmatic use of limited resources.
MSI TDR: Is there anything you would like to add?
Engin AYKOL: On behalf of Nurol Makina, I congragulate MSI TDR, which has made important contributions to the development of our defence industry, and whose success in maintaining its position is not a coincidence, on reaching your 200th issue for the Turkish edition. I would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly congratulate all at MSI TDR, and wish them continued success.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.