The 'Unmatched' of 47th Street

ImageOn 46th and 47th Streets, where Manhattan’s heart of jewelry sector pulsates, the commotion of the day has ended and the mall tradesmen enjoy the peace and quite of ending a long day. Besides a lot of large and small scale Turkish firms, most of the Turkish people, such as artisans and shop assistants, make their living in the gold sector in the Mecca of goldsmiths.
Unique Settings of New York is one of the Turkish firms on the street. Even though life in the mall seems to end towards evening hours, the lights of the boss’s room is on until late at night. Ekmel Anda, the founding partner of a series of companies among which is a mounter producer workshop and a mall on 47th Street, and a design company called Diamond Plaza which addresses the tastes of people from the high income class, says he is passionate about his work.

A lot has changed since 1989, when he first set foot in New Jersey on the advice of his father, who had retired from Ziraat Bank. He had only 1000 dollars in his pocket when he came to see an acquaintance with whom he had conversed briefly for an hour back in Turkey. First, he worked as a petrol station attendant. As in all immigrant stories, he worked 18 hours a day and started saving money.

He lived through similar difficulties that all people go through upon arrival in the U.S.A. He couldn't go back to Turkey due to his visa status. An acquaintance called Yusuf Degirmencioglu helped him and some of his friends to get work permits by taking advantage of a law in Las Vegas. "Uncle Yusuf was a milestone in my life. The moment I met Uncle Yusuf, my star shone in the U.S.,” he says. Today, Degirmencioglu is a like a grandfather to Anda’a children.

When Anda obtained the right to live and work in the U.S.A. in the 1994 green card lottery, he quit his job in the gas station in Orange, New Jersey and started working as a sales agent in a book store. He was introduced to the gold business through the brother of the owner of the bookstore, who was a goldsmith. On the weekends, he started working as an assistant in a jewelry store in Woodbridge. Then he opened up his own store with a capital of 7,000 dollars.

He also started to develop his relations with the goldsmiths on 47th Street, where he did his shopping once a week. While he was looking for a wholesaler in New York to buy mounters, a piece of jewelry without the valuable stone attached, he met Dursun Kocak Kocak, who had a very big share in the mounter market in New York, facilitated material support to Anda, his countryman.

In 1993, the biggest shop of the mall, which consisted of 20 stores, was put up for sale for 300,000 dollars. Anda, the owner of the smallest shop in the mall, applied for the store with a friend called Italian Ernie. They both gave 25,000 dollars. They bought the store with a loan of 250,000 dollars. Anda borrowed his share of the 25,000 from Yusuf Demircioglu, who helped him every time he was hard up for money. With the arrival of Maurice Payami, who had decided to sell his store and move Los Angeles, to New Jersey, they became three partners. In the same year, Anda, Ernie, and Maurice bought another shop in the mall for 40,000 dollars. The three partners bought 5 stores within the next three years.
From 1993 to 2001 the partners lived quite wealthily. When Anda found out that his countryman Dursun Kocak, who gave him access to unlimited credit in their trade, had closed his business, he looked for a new partnership. The adventure of Unique Settings of New York, which was on the verge of closing down, began in 1999. Ekmel Anda grasped the opportunity to address a very wide circle with 4 partners.

While Ernie and Maurice tended to the stores in New Jersey, Anda carried the business to New York. Unique Settings opened up a wholesale store on 47th Street. It became one of the four biggest companies in the mounting market thanks to his partnership with Kocak, who had been in the business since 1990.
Anda employs 70 people in his companies.

At the moment, he is preparing to engage in the diamond jewelry business. The next day, he says that they have achieved a very important task by expanding production support on 47th Street. Anda, who claims that 50,000 product catalogs which were printed with a $3,000,000 investment will increase sales immensely, targets $50,000,000 revenue in 2006. The revenue of the previous year in 2004 was $15,000,000.

Anda and his partners have diversified their activities in the jewelry market by opening up a goldsmiths' mall. Marlboro Diamond Plaza, which was opened in Marlboro Town of New Jersey last year, is located in a neighborhood with high income residents. There are 10 stores in the 20,000 square foot Plaza. It can hold up to 35 stores in various sizes. The rent is between $2500 and $4500 per month.

Anda, who has begun to design products for luxury-products stores under the name Raynor Design, has also associate investments in the construction business in Turkey. Anda, who works in different business sectors with Syrian, Jewish and Christian partners, says, smiling, that he is protected by God. Anda, who says that he had no specific plans when he first came to the U.S.A., summarizes his journey from 126 hour a week gas station work to where he is now by saying, “I never came across bad people in business life". Anda came across his high school sweetheart in New York, married her, and he has two children. Ekmel Anda, a great fan of the Fenerbahce football team, is the second president of the board of directors of Fenerbahce U.S.A.   
(August 2005, Issue 18th)      
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07