Alev Semker of Turkish greenhouse operation Semay & Akas was recently featured in the latest edition of Van Der Hoeven's newsletter.
1. Can you tell us something about yourself.
What is your education, profession?
I studied Computer Programming in Bosphorus University in Istanbul and Economics in Middle East Technical University in Ankara. I started my career in Ata Construction Company, the company that built the world’s 5th largest dam and hydroelectric power plant in the southeastern part of Turkey. In this company I worked for eight years in different departments, such as Information Technology, Human Resources, Trade and Public Relations. I founded my own company for importing and wholesaling baby care products and toys in the 1990s. After 3 years we created our own brand, we moved into retail and started to open stores. Then, as a complementary, we also established children amusement parks in shopping centers. In 2012, after acquiring more than 45 stores and amusement centers, I sold this company to a private equity fund. For 6 years, I have been the president of Enerji-Su Construction Company, a 60 year-old company in construction, drilling and grouting. Now, besides the greenhouse business, we have some investments in organic agriculture, construction and the renovation of some old buildings in the historical part of Istanbul.
2. How long has your company been around?
Semay Tarim and Akas Tarim were founded in 2012, and it’s been a year since we started producing cluster tomatoes.
3. How many people do you have working for you?
We have 110 people in total working with us, including our twin greenhouses in Afyonkarahisar and headquarters in Istanbul. Working with a big, ambitious and strong team is an important detail of our strategy to reach our targets in the agriculture sector.
4. What crops are you growing?
We are growing cluster tomatoes and a small amount of cherry tomatoes. We have chosen a variety which may not be considered as very productive in kilograms, but it has a very nice color, taste, smell and size for the Turkish market, which means we can make up for it with a good price.
5. How are you marketing your crops?
Thanks to our marketing team, we didn’t have any problem entering the local market. Our sense of quality and difference helped us become one of the top 3 tomato brands. The next step for us is being permanently on top.
6. How long have you been working with Van der Hoeven?
We met Van der Hoeven in 2012, when we decided to invest in this business. So we have been working together nearly 3 years.
7. What do you think of the collaboration with Van der Hoeven in this project?
We are very happy to work with Van der Hoeven. Thanks to the efforts of the Van der Hoeven Project Manager Karina Verweij, we completed our project within the estimated time and to a high quality. We met very nice people during the project and we are also very happy with the after-sales service.
8. What do you think of your greenhouse, is there anything you would like to emphasize?
Our greenhouses are considered among the best in Turkey, and they may be the best for now. Visitors cannot stop expressing their admiration and paying compliments. We had a severe winter in our first year and we didn’t have to deal with any major problems.
9. Why did you choose Van der Hoeven?
We contacted many companies and had several meetings with some of them. Although price was very important in making the decision, it was not the only driver in choosing the right company. We were impressed by the professionalism of Van der Hoeven. We could always reach the relevant people and received answers to our questions quickly. VDH is a well-organized company.
10. What is your ambition for the next 5 years?
Agriculture is the key sector in our plans for the next 10 years. So, our priority is to surpass the quality of Turkey in tomato growing and be a leader in the local market and become an important exporter. After we become a pro in tomato growing we have plans to grow other products and expand our 50 ha field.
For more information
Van der Hoeven Horticultural projects
T: +31 88 262 66 66