In Focus: Interview with ITJ

Turkey as a hub provides Genel Transport with the basis for its international forwarding activities

The fruit of decades of labour

There’s almost always an impressive development story behind every medium-sized company. There’s no rule that the founder of a forwarder starts out as a lone fighter and then rises up through the networked global economy, nor one that he becomes a representative of his industry. Turgut Erkeskin describes his career path with Genel Transport from the beginnings in 1988 for Christian Doepgen.

Congratulations on your 35th anniversary, Mr Erkeskin! How did you start out?

Our journey began in 1988 – as a one-man show. Naturally it was difficult for us to get started, as a newcomer, but Genel Transport soon managed to make a name for itself through international assignments, for example to the Middle East or to the Caucasus region.

We’ve now risen to become, amongst other things, many a global forwarder’s cooperation partner for worldwide carriers of Turkish exports and for shippers using Turkey as a gateway.

How is your firm positioned?

Initially we offered classic road transport services, then entered the sea freight segment in 1991 and the airfreight sector in 1994. Today we offer everything from a single source. We initially focused on the Black Sea region, in Samsun and Hopa. Today we run offices at Istanbul airport, in the port of Ambarli, and in Izmir and Mersin, in addition to our headquarters. Every year, Genel Transport handles approximately 50,000 shipments and serves about 300 destinations.

Does Genel Transport serve selected customer segments?

In the last ten years we’ve increasingly specialised. We have departments for chemicals, textiles and fashion, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, automotive and perishables. Since 2015, we’ve been expanding our aerospace unit (AOG).
Our heavylift/project division handles cargo in every sector. We’re proud to work for Siemens on one of the largest national projects, for example, the combined cycle power plant in Bandirma.

How many employees does Genel have?

A staff of 145, 43% of whom are women – with a rising share.
We have many certificates, including ISO9001, 27001 and 10002, AEO, GDP, Evocadis, Iata DGR, and I have to say that I’m very pleased that we won a ‘Great Place to Work’ award in 2023.

You are particularly committed to the industry…

Since 1988 I’ve been active in the Association of International Forwarding and Logistics Service Providers (Utikad), and served as its chairman of the board in the years 2010 to 2016.

And in Fiata?

I’m fascinated by Fiata’s possibilities. As vice-president since 2013 I helped organise its world congress in Istanbul in 2014. After that it went from strength to strength. In 2016 I was elected president of Fiata’s Region Europe, and in 2017 to the presidency, as a senior vice-president.

What’s your vision for the industry?

Our industry is going through a transition, with e-commerce dominating and last-mile operations very important.
Shipping lines are going into vertical integration. Our future as forwarders will thus be more asset-based.
Digitalisation is becoming dominant as is standardisation. Orders, prices and transport updates will soon run digitally.
Forwarding solutions remain absolutely essential, but they’ll become more technological services in future

What principle guides your customer care?

Put your customers – and not profits centre stage.

Elif Tozlu