Ilter Yurtbay, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Yurtbay Seramik, took over the presidency of the Turkish Ceramics Federation, the umbrella organization of the ceramics industry. Yurtbay evaluated TSF's goals for the new period in our interview. Protecting members against unfair competition and preparing them for the green transformation process are the two main issues on TSF's agenda.
FATMA BATUKAN BELGE
Could you tell us about the goals of the Turkish Ceramics Federation in the new period?
Our goals as TSF in the coming period are; to protect our members against unfair competition at home and abroad and to take initiatives in this direction. Apart from this, within the framework of green transformation, to lead our members and prepare them for this process in the best way possible.
What were the advantages of TSF organizing UNICERA itself? Are there any difficulties?
UNICERA is an organization that has been brought to this day by TSF and its affiliated associations, on which great effort and time has been spent by many different stakeholders, from manufacturers to ceramic artists, and is both one of the most distinguished fairs of our country and has proven itself worldwide. As TSF, we recently gave UNICERA the identity of a Joint Stock Company in order to give it an identity that will meet today's needs. In this way, UNICERA gained a legal identity and a more professional and dynamic working system. Here again, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed, especially our previous President Erdem Cenesiz, for their contributions.
In addition to the increasing number of local and foreign visitors every year, UNICERA has become a fair where most local and foreign buyers do not make their final purchasing decision without stopping by, due to the location where the organization is held. As the Turkish Ceramics Federation, we are pleased with the point UNICERA has reached and we look to the future with hope.
How do you see UNICERA compared to other major fairs abroad?
Not only does UNICERA have nothing to do with other major fair organizations abroad, it is a fact accepted even by the international ceramics circles that it has moved up the rankings with the progress it has made in recent years both in terms of increasing brand awareness and the number of visitors, which is in a constantly increasing trend. We predict that this trend will continue to increase in the coming years.
What are the biggest problems of the ceramics industry depending on the country's realities?
Today, every producing sector is experiencing certain problems as a result of developing standards and awareness. At this point, the importance of communication comes into play. As TSF, we strive to keep the communication channel constantly alive by communicating our sectoral problems to the relevant authorities by establishing regular and close contact with the public. Although some progress has been made in recent years with the investments made in our country, depending on the realities of the country, we can say that our biggest problem is being an energy importing country.
In connection with the previous question, what are the challenges of the sector when we consider it globally?
When we look at the problems in the ceramics industry on a global basis, it shows that the problems are not only caused by the manufacturers, but also the machinery manufacturers who provide machinery and equipment to ceramic manufacturers on a global scale, as well as the manufacturers, have certain duties and responsibilities.
Before ceramics can meet cosmetic requirements such as visuality and trends in all forms in which they take shape, it has to perfectly meet certain norms such as hygiene, durability and longevity, and the only way to achieve these is by producing at high firing temperatures in the production kilns.
Especially today, where the importance of renewable energy increases day by day, our expectation from our machinery park suppliers is to quickly develop innovations that include smarter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly energy consumption alternatives and offer them to the service of countries and even the world.
What is the strongest aspect of Turkish ceramics?
We can show the strongest aspect of Turkish ceramics as the fact that 80% of the total raw materials that make up the final product can be supplied from our country. In other words, we are an industry that uses 80% domestic raw materials; this both reduces our foreign dependency and ensures that the same amount of foreign currency we bring to our country from export markets, that is, 80%, remains in our country.
The relationship between ceramics and design is very important. Are there any things you, as TSF, specifically plan to do to strengthen production-design relations?
In our industry, both Turkish Ceramics, the face of Turkish ceramics opening to the world, and a few of our manufacturers operating in our industry have been running design competitions for years in order to keep the relationship between ceramics and design alive and dynamic. The main purpose here is to touch the designers before they move on from the department are studying in to professional life, and to increase social responsibility awareness. As one of those who implemented one of these design competitions in the institution I work for, I would like to state with pleasure that I have witnessed many times that the projects that reach these competitions should not be underestimated.
In addition, one of the imported inputs of our industry is designs supplied from abroad. What is more interesting is that in order to realize these designs, purchasing the design alone is not enough, and the difficulty and necessity of importing certain auxiliary materials depending on this design is one of the problems that the manufacturer frequently encounters. In the light of this information, a design studio that can operate in our country will provide various advantages to our country's manufacturers and will also minimize foreign dependency in this regard.