Askew Makes Manufacturing Companies More Efficient

Los Angeles, CA - You could have the greatest product in the world, but if your company doesn’t have an effective supply solution or inventory management systems, you could be losing out. Askew Industrial Corporation (US company) is a company that designs and implements inventory management systems and point-of-use supply solutions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Askew helps its customers reduce their total cost of ownership while improving their manufacturing efficiencies and increasing their profitability.

Turan Kahraman, Askew Industrial Corp. President & CEO

In 1999 Turan Kahraman took over the management of Askew Industrial. He spent much of his early career as a consultant for a large international corporation as well as many middle market companies.  He currently serves as President and CEO of Askew Industrial Corp., an industrial production hardware distributor. Kahraman answered TURKOFAMERICA’s questions.

When did you come to the U.S. and what was the reason?
In 1977, I graduated from Galatasaray Lisesi (one of the most renowned and influential high schools of modern Turkey.) At that time I was very much interested in studying abroad and furthering my athletic career as I had just broken the Turkish National Record for Discus the prior year.  In the 1970s many world-class discus throwers were Americans.  Through the assistance of American teachers from Robert College (which is the most selective independent private high school in Turkey), I was able to contact American universities and ultimately receive an athletic scholarship from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  I graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

When did your business career start and could you tell us about your first jobs?
I began my career as the Key Liaison representing the joint venture food processing business formed between JR Simplot Co. and Besikcioglu.  I traveled to Turkey extensively and worked on a variety of projects, such as the preparation of business plans for certain sections of the operations, training American personnel prior to their assignments in Turkey, etc.

In 1986 my wife, my young son and I moved to Los Angeles.  I first worked at MRC Worldwide, a mergers and acquisitions firm assisting middle market companies.  This experience gave me great exposure to their owners and to opportunities in management in these types of companies.
In 1990 I began running companies. The businesses I have run have been middle market companies that service OEMs.  Another common thread is that they have all been turnaround candidates.  Initially I ran a chemical manufacturing and distribution business, followed by a large printing and bindery operation.  In 1999 I took over the management of Askew Industrial, of which I am currently co-owner.

Can you tell us about history of the company?
Having been in business since 1957, Askew has a very established name in the industry.  When Ken Askew formed the company, his vision was to serve manufacturing companies with their industrial fastener needs.  Since my arrival in 1999, we have made a significant amount of investment in personnel and technology, which allowed us to provide our customers with better service options and additional product lines.  Today our focus is to intimately understand our customers’ businesses in order to help them lower their manufacturing cost by cutting or eliminating non-value-added expenses from their procurement process.  

Kahraman took over the management of Askew in 1999.

What changed after you started running the company?

We have been growing steadily.  In particular during the last four years the company has grown between 18 to 20 percent per year.  We currently have three locations: Los Angeles, San Diego and Fresno.  Our customers are OEMs that are located throughout the US, though most are concentrated in California and Northern Mexico.  Our customers in Mexico are American companies which manufacture in Mexico in order to take advantage of the lower labor cost.  Their finished products are shipped back to the US.

During the same four years, we have also increased our involvement in the shipbuilding industry, which currently constitutes over 20 percent of our business.  We send our products to shipyards throughout the US and as far as some of the Gulf States (in the Middle East).  

How many employees does Askew Industrial have?
We have 62 employees.  The positive working environment that we have created has been the key in retaining many of the long-term employees.  Our philosophy of providing such an environment of mutual respect, fair treatment and strong work ethic translates into our employees’ providing excellent service to our customers.  Over the years we have attracted many successful individuals from our industry that later joined our firm.   

We are considered to be one of the premier companies in the Western United States, providing our customers with some of the most innovative service options.  Many of our customers are very well-known in their respective industries.  They are shipbuilders building military and commercial ships; pump manufacturers making small pumps, to very large ones used in nuclear applications; manufacturers of instrumentation, appliances, electronic equipment, etc.  

While we provide small assembly products, the bulk of which are made overseas, our ultimate goal is to help American manufacturing companies continue operating in the US.  We feel that there are still a lot of inefficient companies in the US that need to adopt more cost-effective management and production systems.  We see ourselves as one of catalysts for implementing these changes and making the US manufacturing companies more efficient.  

What makes Askew different from its competitors?
There are a lot of fastener distributors in the US.  Many of them claim to provide the services I listed above.  Our difference is that we act as a small company with our customer service but we provide a very high level of technical services, as though we were a much larger corporation.  Our staff’s knowledge, experience and professionalism are second to none.  We spend a lot of time understanding our customers’ businesses in order to provide the most efficient method to deliver our products to their production lines.  When we understand our customer’s internal processes and supply chain intimately, we are able to provide options and suggestions in order to eliminate expenses that do not add value to our customers’ core businesses.   
Turan Kahraman with Fabian Nunez, Speaker of the California State Assembly visiting Askew Industrial?s Los Angeles facilities.

What is your long term plan?

Even with the fast growth of our company, there are still many opportunities throughout the US where we can open in-plant facilities within customers’ manufacturing facilities.  These services are performed under what we call “vendor-managed” programs, including among others, consignment systems, where the customer does not own the inventory until they take the parts from our designated “vendor-managed” locations.  Our systems are such that we don’t have to have a full-scale branch in a distant location in order to serve the customers.  Geographical constraints do not affect our business because of the way we can tailor our services.  

1- The most important thing is to enjoy what you do and also teach your teams to join you in your passion for your enterprise.  
2- The main purpose and goal of your work cannot be simply making more money.  Money will come as you improve your position in the marketplace.  
3- In order to find the work that you will enjoy, you must first know your strengths and shortcomings.  Some of us are better at starting companies and others are better at managing them.  Still others are better at fixing underperforming assets.  
4- I believe in creating exciting, anxiety-free environments with sufficient challenges in which the employees can grow and flourish.   
5- Countless numbers of people go to work every day without ever reaching their potential.  Nurturing an individual and seeing him/her grow is a very special feeling.  Because of that, in every company that I have run, I have worked hard to either provide the right environment and/or worked with employees individually in order to help them reach their potential.  In today’s knowledge-based businesses, we actually have no choice but to provide these types of environments.     
6- There are different types of leadership styles.  No one style is better than another.  I have, however, seen that the styles that are closer to coaching, advising and nurturing create the most lasting organizations.  
7- In today’s knowledge-based companies, we need team members who can think independently, regardless of the industries we are in.  We only get what we put out there.  Respect and goodwill beget the same.  Humanity and how to treat people is the same, regardless of where we live in the world, whether it is in Turkey or in the US.  
8- Leaders need people to lead.  Be careful who you hire… you don’t want a bunch of clones.  You want a variety of backgrounds and personality styles in order to bring the organization richness and diversity of ideas.  While it is often more difficult to manage people who are different than us, the truly effective leaders will find a way to work with different types of individuals and get the most from all of them.

After graduating from Galatasaray Lisesi, Istanbul, Turan Kahraman received an athletic scholarship from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  He graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

He began his career as the Key Liaison for a large international food processing company. In 1986 he moved to Los Angeles.  He first worked at MRC Worldwide, a mergers and acquisitions firm. In 1990 Kahraman began running companies. In 1999 he took over the management of Askew Industrial Corporation.  Since his arrival to Southern California Kahraman has served on many Turkish-American business and social organizations.  Since March 2005 he has also served on the Global Management Center Advisory Board of BYU’s Marriott School of Business. He currently resides in Orange County, California with his wife Judy and their two sons Turhan and Adam.
(December 2007, 27th Issue Cover)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07