Scottish company Scotmas set its sights on Turkey as a destination for its water treatment, hygiene and environmental care products.
As the company has experience working abroad, it is well aware of the importance of having a local contact as a first stepping stone when entering a new market, says Alistair Cameron, the director of Scotmas. This is why he decided to turn to the Enterprise Europe Network for help locating a partner in Turkey.
Jane Watters, a Network expert in Scotland, teamed up with Serdal Temel, her counterpart at the Ege University Science and Technology Centre in Turkey. Together, they lined up a three-day programme of interviews in Turkey for Scotmas. Their work has blossomed into five commercial and technical agreements, with another two or three likely in 2015, and the opening of a Scotmas office in the country.
"Homestyle Tekstil Turkey is the new joint company established in Izmir under this partnership agreement," says Temel. "It specialises in short-run manufacturing with fast lead times. It produces insect repellents and textile products, such as mosquito nets, and exports them to other countries directly, among them the UK, France, Spain, the Middle East and the Caribbean."
He recalls how Scotmas first found its feet in Turkey. Working with Watters, he organised four company missions to Turkey, featuring get-togethers with local competitors, suppliers, chambers of commerce, managers of industrial zones, and universities. They also found local rented premises for Scotmas, plus suppliers and companies to do a trial production.
"It was tough finding a local manager for this Scottish company, so we gave permission to one of our staff to take up that position on their behalf," adds Temel.
There were several other challenges. Scotmas initially intended to invest in the Far East, which has a lower cost base than Turkey. As a result, Temel worked hard to convince the company of the benefits of being based in Turkey. He also convinced a local manufacturing firm that it would be worthwhile interrupting its usual work in order to complete a trial run of Scotmas products.
As a result, Temel set up a team of three Network experts to work intensively for Scotmas and to persuade local firms to work with the Scottish company. His devotion to duty even meant smoothing over misunderstandings locally, to prevent Scotmas sample goods from being impounded.
"I think for the first year we were in Turkey, I came to regard Dr Serdal as almost an honorary employee of Scotmas," enthuses Cameron. Wholly owned by Scotmas, Homestyle Tekstil continues to produce on behalf of its Scottish partner.