“WE PRODUCE FOR A MORE HABITABLE WORLD”

Having served in different positions many years ago yet again in Eczacıbası Group, Ozgen Ozkan returned home as as the Eczacıbası Building Materials CEO. Ozkan pointed out that they adopt sustainability during production as their basic philosophy and adds “We aim for a more habitable world.”


FATMA BATUKAN BELGE


You have taken office as the Eczacıbası Building Materials CEO last July. It’s a little bit late but still best wishes for your new job. And it’s right in the mid of pandemic… How much are you affected from Covid-19 as an establishment?


OZGEN OZKAN: Thank you. I’m also so happy to return back home. Of course, I would like to return back under more “normal” circumstances, but pandemic has set forth conditions every individual and whole world are struggling with. When I started my job the first 3,5 months of the pandemic has past which I may call the most fiery period. With a series of fast and reasonable measures such as establishing remote working conditions for white collars to suspending service at stores, continuing production by maintaining social distance at factories to setting out video talk infra-structure to ensure uninterrupted service we provide to architects, first the health of the employees and then the health of the business were guaranteed. During this period and later on we closely followed-up the emerging cases, supported them and we didn’t have any loss of life due to health problems. We also maintained the production and services without delay, and we succeeded in realizing all our commitments both inland and abroad.


Since the mid of November, the start of the 2nd period of restrictions, to this day, we predicated on the statements and precautions of the Ministry of Health and relevant governmental institutions and nongovernmental organizations and continuously assess our working order. With precautions such as reduced working, planning face-to-face visits by prioritizing them, alternating working, restricting travels, we endeavor both for our teams to stay healthy and safe and for our sales and production activities to continue uninterruptedly.


Your title may be new but your place in the organization is old. You have worked in Eczacıbası Group again many years ago. What’s the meaning of having a place within this group for you?


Eczacıbası Group has always been a group that brings forward our world, sustainability, human and its’ essential parts, art, culture and sport and blends its’ business goals with what it gains from there. Knowing this, living in this and having a chance to be a part of this are what matter to me.


Were there any privileges you get for being a METU graduate?


My most important hobby in life is my endless passion for learning… The foundations of it has been laid in one of our country’s valuable universities, METU. Our university supporting research and different point of views, gives opportunities to students who try to improve themselves in this way and I think it’s also my major privilege that enables my improvement in every aspect.


Eczacıbası plays a great role in establishing the ceramic culture in our country. Plus, it has a great support not only in industrial area but also in artistic area. What do you think on industry-art/design collaboration?


As I mentioned earlier, we believe solid advantages put forth by collaboration and co-producing culture. We enable different shareholders to collaborate both in and out of the company and want to increase and improve the dialog, sharing, interaction and production. For this, we have a mission such as laying out or supporting projects towards the improvement of architecture culture. For this purpose, VitrA Ceramic Art Workshop is carrying out activities under Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Again, for this, we have been supporting the Istanbul Design Biennial since the very first day.

WHO IS OZGEN OZKAN?


Born in 1964, Ozgen Ozkan graduated from Middle East Technical University Industrial Engineering Department. Finished her postgraduate in 1989 in Istanbul University Department of Business.

He began her career in 1989 under Eczacıbası VitrA; had important roles in various areas from production planning, exportation to sales, marketing and logistics. He joined Franke family in 1998 and served respectively as General Manager (Turkey), Regional Manager (Turkey, Greece, Romania, Caucasia and Kazakhstan), Regional Director (South East Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Caucasia) and Sales Director (Europe, Middle East and Africa). He began serving as the Eczacıbası Building Materials CEO in July 2020 and undertake the whole overseas affiliates of the organization.


Ozkan is one of the founder members of the Association of Members of the Board of Directors. He is married and father of one.


Nowadays, concepts like sustainability and environmental awareness are shaping the production philosophy as much as design. What is the most prominent concept in your production philosophy?


The focus of our job is health and hygiene and the subject of it is human. Our main philosophy is to protect our planet while producing for human. For a more habitable world goal, we say sustainability at first not only in production but also in design and management processes; we undertake responsibility for the future of the blue planet with the approach we called the Blue Life. We make technological investments in all of our production processes to provide conscious use of raw material and recycling it to nature. We develop smart technologies and designs we reduce energy consumption. Together with our shareholders, we ground on sustainability in all of our management processes.


A generation has raised with the “On and Off” motto of Artema and this is used as the generic name of the product in the industry. What kind of properties should products symbolizing the armature design of the next year have?


You’re right, Artema’s “On and Off” motto for it has produced the first “single-control” armature, is used as the generic name of the product in the industry for many years. But especially today where technology is unbelievably developed and hygiene concerns are at highest, armatures are now smart, thrifty and touchless! The era now belongs to armatures equipped with smart technologies that enables us to use water thriftly and without touching so we continue to break grounds on pioneering applications in this area. Keeping in mind that only the 3 percent of the water is drinkable in our world where three fourth is covered with water, we endeavor for the highest saving.


Eczacıbası is not only the manufacturer and exporter but also brings foreign brands to Turkey. If you would like to make a comparison between foreign brands and our domestic brands by means of competition…


Like in every sector, needs and tastes in consumer base is effective on product preferences. Particularly with bathroom spaces turning into living spaces, consumers are not only seeking functional products and solutions but also products which reflect their own style to customize their bathroom space. And with our various brands, we can offer consumers the answer for every kind of project, taste and need.


Where do you see Turkey for the next twenty years in ceramic production?


Turkey is a country filled with ceramic and bath culture. Pandemic period has proven that we’re also mature and agile by means of industrialization. Far from suspending production so, numerous factories had to close in Europe in this period. But we first protected our health and realized our commitments. Turkish ceramic industry has a broad perspective. 20 years is long time but with the wind behind us from 2020, I believe the industry will strengthen its’ position among the world by taking firm steps forward. If we can further diversify added-value products and services, bring technology and innovation together and turn it into a customer experience while our export numbers are increasing, we can all together witness the ramping up of Turkish ceramic industry. I care much about this ramping up in our exportation in respect of our industry’s contribution to our country’s foreign currency need that will gradually increase for it’s actually resulting with current surplus for each ceramic product sold abroad being consisted of domestic resources with more than a ratio of 80 percent.


From left to right; Erdem Akan (Eczacıbaşı Building Materials Design Director), Özgen Özkan (Eczacıbaşı Building Materials CEO), Boğaç Şimşir (Eczacıbaşı Building Materials Innovation Director).


VitrA NExT: From Bozuyuk, A Window to the world


VitrA NExT built by Eczacıbası Building Materials within the Innovation Center at the heart of Bozuyuk Manufacturing Campus, opens an area for the “next bathroom experience” in an environment where everything in the world are becoming more and more linked to each other, distances are becoming shorter, dialogs are getting much more than ever. Inviting various user groups to dialog to design a sustainable life together, the experience and interaction platform VitrA NExT gave a taste of the bathroom experience of the future in the ISH Fair held online for the first time this year‎.


The biggest fair of the world in the field of building products ISH has opened its’ doors in digital media for the first time in 22nd-26th March. VitrA that has been attending the fair being held every two year since 1985 in Frankfurt, this time left the fair stand to the new experience and interaction platform it built in the manufacturing campus in Bozuyuk. Hosting ISH visitors at first, VitrA NExT invites various user groups to dialog to design a sustainable life together.


Identifying VitrA NExT as the “next stop in a long journey of design set out with a continuous discovering and renewing passion” Eczacıbası Building Materials CEO Ozgen Ozkan said “With a passion to inspire the bathrooms of future we blend design and technology. In a physical space to be developed with a perpetual precess as well as in digital media we opened to share the bathroom solutions that come up as a result of the coherent collaboration of VitrA innovation, design and production teams. With everyone’s access and contribution this way, we aim for enrichment and design with all of our shareholders.”


Eczacıbası Building Materials Marketing Director Yavuz Feyzioglu said “By looking at the habitual from a different perspective each time, we focus on designing the next bathroom experience of users by now. We endeavor to shape not to keep pace with this stunning change we live and to open up new horizons for it not to guide it. Because on one hand we want to realize what’s dreamt and on the other hand we want to put forth what’s not dreamt yet and be the facilitator and the inspiration source of design processes.”


Specifying that they reidentify the culture, habits, physical space and health every day, Feyzioglu continued his words as follows: “By developing timeless designs that constantly remains up-to-date, smart technologies that creates behavioral changes, solutions that embrace differences, we puzzle our brains to change the identification of even the sustainability. For a more habitable world, we reconstitute basic questions in a human-oriented way and reposition bathrooms as a living space. By thinking on expectations which are not spoken of until today, we try to foresee the next bathroom experience and by combining our design and engineering skills, we develop solutions considering every difference from gender to age and usage needs. VitrA NexT is a window for us we leave ajar outside to share all efforts and to design together...”