A Blessing in Disguise

Bridgeport, CT -
“A blessing in disguise,” is the best phrase to describe Hakki Akbulak’s business adventures in the U.S.  Akbulak, a Turkish born businessman, left Turkey when he was 17 to attend a college in Germany, become a CPA, then started to work for KMPG, a global network of professional services firms providing audit, tax and advisory services.
He moved to the U.S. to work for KMPG’s U.S. branch. While he was building his career, he felt something was missing. When he moved to Germany, his brother Erdogan was 12 years old and they were not able to spend time together as he wished.

Everything started to change in 1990. Hakki Akbulak found out that his brother Erdogan had a malignant tumor. He asked him to come to the U.S. for treatment. When he persuaded him, he made a promise as well: “If he recovered, I would quit my career as a CPA and start a new company with him.” Erdogan survived and Hakki kept his promise and founded AKDO in 1990.

They decided to work together, but what could they do as a business?  The Akbulak brothers researched what products they could import from Turkey to the United States. Hakki Akbulak settled on natural stone and within a short while granite, marble, limestone, travertine and slate became the brothers’ passion – imported not only from Turkey but from 25 other countries as well. He remembers those first two years of business by saying that “The stone industry was in the Stone Age and dealing with people was not easy.”  
Supported by the manufacturing capability of our sister company Silkar in Turkey, AKDO customers enjoy the flexibility and support that only a vertically integrated company offers. AKDO’s clients also have access to a team of experienced architects, engineers and mosaic artisans. Akbulak says, “We catch the fish, Silkar take care of them.”  

AKDO (the name comes from the first syllable of his and a former partner’s last names) has built its reputation on “adding value to product” principles. There are plenty of natural stone companies in the region in which AKDO operates but Akbulak is proud of their unique design and products. For example, the company produced a 330 sq meter mosaic Piri Reis map, a reproduction of a famous pre-modern world map compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the Ottoman-Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis, for the wall of a shopping mall in Ankara.

“Our mosaic designers have mastered the art of creating original patterns that are instant classics, sure to stand the test of time. The key to the success of the products is that cutting-edge products are produced from classic stones to generate mosaics that have an appealing aesthetic, suitable for both contemporary and traditional environments,” Akbulak explains.

The company’s customers are architects, designers and builders, rather than the homeowner.  
Hakki created a 4,000-square-foot showroom so designers and clients can see and touch the array of choices for themselves. AKDO deals with retail and commercial projects and sell its marble, travertine, and mosaics to hotels, casinos, condominium projects and so on. The company imports all over the world but 50 percent of the products come from Turkey. AKDO’s sister company Silkar is a leading manufacturer of granite, marble, antiqued stones and mosaics in Turkey. With two large facilities in Bilecik, the company has sizable investments in quarrying and processing of natural stones.

Apart from the Connecticut location, which supports a staff of over 100 people, there is a thriving Californian location, a manufacturing facility in China and imminent operation in Atlanta, Georgia. There are two Silkar/AKDO showrooms in Turkey, one in Antalya, and one in Istanbul.

The company’s sales increased by around 15 per cent last year. In 2007, AKDO’s turnover was $30 million, which went up to about $35m in 2008. According to Emirates Business, the company has plans to enter the Persian Gulf region in a big way. The company was recently awarded a contract in Qatar and is currently in negotiations with several developers in the UAE to obtain new projects.

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07