Interview for Tatmedia magazineMedia
In 2019, the Turkish company Kastamonu, one of whose plants is located on the territory of the SEZ "Alabuga", celebrates a half-century anniversary. Mr. Ali Kilic told Tatarstan about what investors value our republic for, whether quality improvement always requires additional costs, and what décor of floor is fashionable this season.
What is the company's place in the Russian and international markets today?
Kastamonu is one of the five largest companies in the wood-processing industry in Europe and is the leader in the Russian market of flooring in the laminate segment occupying 20% of its volume. The production capacity of the plant today is 1.05 million m³ of MDF boards and 35 million m² of laminate per year. Kastamonu brand in Russia is well - known and beloved. Kastamonu products were used during the construction of business apartments in Level Paveletskaya (Moscow) and the housing renovation program, which has been operating in the capital since 2017.
What is the secret of such popularity?
There are a lot of them. The most important one is that we are constatley working at quality improvement. For example, the Kastamonu plant has the Quality Control Circles program. Employees form teams to solve certain tasks at their sections. These tasks can be aimed at reducing the cost of production, the time of performing any operations, the risks of industrial safety and labor protection, the impact on the environment and human health, etc. Teams prepare projects with proposals for optimizing one or another part of production, many of which are then introduced at the plant and bring real benefits. Besides, we always follow the trends in the Russian and world markets and promptly take measures to improve the quality, expand the range of decors of our products, taking into account all the wishes of the final consumers of different segments. It is worth noting that improving quality does not always require additional investments: sometimes it is enough to revise and adjust existing technologies. We are working tirelessly on this too.
The plant in Elabuga is the largest production plant of Kastamonu. Why exactly Tatarstan?
Our choice is determined by the presence of a special economic zone in the republic. The SEZ format is the most effective one for implementing projects of public-private partnership thanks to the flexible taxation system for residents (in particular, income tax, land tax and others). Due to state investments, the necessary engineering and transport infrastructure has been created. Besides, residents receive support on a variety of issues - from recruiting staff to interacting with authorities.
We receive state support from the Governments of Russia and the Republic of Tatarstan, as well as at the local municipal level. Particular care is taken by the President of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov. Significant support also comes from the leadership of the Alabuga SEZ. Another big plus of the SEZ is customs regulation during shipment of products that is simplified and implemented in a single-window mode. In addition, the cultural and historical component and the kinship of the peoples of Tatarstan and Turkey were of great importance for us.
In your opinion, does the republic have other competitive advantages?
I would call a favorable geographical location, proximity to raw materials and developed logistics, which allows us to send finished products to Europe, Asia and other far-abroad countries. Next is the proximity of cities with a large population that are sources of human resources. And, of course, an important factor is the presence of higher and secondary educational institutions in Tatarstan, which prepare sufficient qualified personnel of various professions, including specialized for woodworking.
Over the past four years, plant employees have planted about 1,500 seedlings in the republic’s forest areas. Is it an experiment or something else?
This is one of the measures of our environmental policy.Kastamonu constantly works with suppliers of raw materials, encouraging them to more actively pass ecological certification. The forestry enterprises of Tatarstan that supply wood for the plant have FSC certificates, i.e., in parallel with lumbering, they also carry out reforestation in volumes that exceed lumbering, and PEFC certificates, i.e., they ensure that forest products come from certified woods. Thus, the activities of the Kastamonu plant activate the development of FSC and PEFC certification of lumberers in Tatarstan.
What do consumers pay attention to when choosing a laminate?
Antibacterial properties, moisture resistance and ecological compatibility of products are in the trend. And here Kastamonu has something to offer business partners and final consumers. The laminate of the trademarks Floorpan, Artfloor and Sunfloor has an antibacterial certificate obtained as a result of testing floor coverings for compliance with the requirements of the ISO 22196:2011 standard in the EPH Success by Quality laboratory in Dresden, Germany, and the Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology in Kazan. Investigations have shown that Kastamonu floor coverings have pronounced antibacterial activity.
As for moisture resistance, we are constantly improving our products. Recent results of moisture resistance tests have shown that our laminate does not swell at the points of the T-joint: After 1 hour - 0%, After 24 hours, no more than 1.5% Such indicators are provided by a high-quality clutch. The ecological compatibility of Kastamonu materials is achieved through strict production standards at the enterprise, constant internal quality control, as well as through external production audits.
How do fashionable interior trends affect demand?
The official colour of 2019 is the Living Coral PANTONE® 16-1546 – “bright, but soft”. Many designers note its “revitalizing” effect: it is cozy and fills the space with “optimism”, and even helps to wake up. Our company offers laminated flooring Lagerta Pine Light, which harmoniously combines with the coral shade.
What does Kastamonu focus on when creating new products now?
One of our important goals is the production of panels with low formaldehyde emissions. We are following global trends, for example, now, in connection with amendments to the German legislation since 2020, we implement a number of measures to reduce formaldehyde emissions to minimum levels in order to meet the changed standards. In addition, today we can already announce new types of goods – fireproof and waterproof MDF boards. Trial tests have already been successfully carried out, now we are passing certification of these products in Russia, and also plan to get a certificate in Europe according to all international standards.
What recent events in the company’s life are the most important in your opinion?
I have been working at Kastamonu for 16 years. My personal opinion is that during this time quite a few significant events have occurred. One of them is investment in the opening of production in Romania. Prior to this, no country on the European continent had produced such a product as door linings (they were imported mainly from America). Another significant event in the history of KASTAMONU is investment in Russia. In the five years since the launch of the plant in the Alabuga SEZ, Kastamonu in Russia has strengthened its status as a reliable partner and responsible employer developing high-tech production and ensuring the release of high-quality and marketable products. All our merits are the result of the responsible work of our employees. During this time, we have become a single, united team and a family that sees the goal and with confidence goes towards it.
General Director of Kastamonu in Russia