Chief executive officer Sean Pierce discusses the rapid growth of Yilport Container Terminal and reveals that there is much more to come from the business in the years ahead.
Defined by the International Monetary Fund as an emerging market economy, Turkey is recognised as one of the world’s newly industrialised countries. It is also known to possess one of the highest volumes of cargo transit activity in the region. This growth in containerisation has significantly raised the country’s profile as a hub for international trade.
Located approximately 40 kilometres from the thriving city of Istanbul, Kocaeli lies at the centre of one of the most developed industrial areas in the country. It is here that one will find Yilport Container Terminal.
Established in 2005 as a subsidiary of Yildirim Holding, Yilport today serves its customers from three terminals, each of which handles different cargo types, these being containers, break bulk and liquids. Considered to be the most modern container terminal in Turkey, Yilport possesses more than 500,000 TEU of container storage capacity, four million tonnes of general cargo handling capacity and 120,000 cubic metres of tank storage.
“The birth of Yilport,” explains chief executive officer Sean Pierce, “was very much a product of Yildirim Holding’s desire to diversify itself and enter into the ports and logistics sector.” Driven by the vision of Robert Yildirim, Yilport has become the recipient of a $500 million, three-stage investment programme aimed at creating an internationally known, reputable, multi-purpose container terminal.
Among the major trends driving the business forward today is investment in new technologies, the integrating of facilities and the centralisation of operations. “One of our key aims,” Pierce states, “is that we want to leverage new technologies so that we are able to provide a range of services from our home terminal to additional facilities and terminals the group adds to its portfolio in the future.”
Rather than approach the issue of how it can provide said services to future acquisitions when the time comes, it is the company’s goal to actually start out from a centralised position. “We have invested a considerable amount of capital into our current infrastructure,” Pierce continues, “with the thought process being that we are going to expand in the years to come. This approach has seen us start to examine the possibility of providing things like centralised planning and berth management, centralised ERP procurement and additional administrative and accounting services.”
It is clear from the work being undertaken to develop Yilport, both as a terminal and a wider business, that it is very much aiming to provide its customers with complete solutions. A perfect example of the efforts being made to provide this can be seen in the way Yilport is supporting one client that is in the process of transporting high volumes of steel products.
“This customer,” Pierce says, “has its steel products loaded onto a vessel that is presently making its way across the Black Sea to us here at the terminal. What we will do once it arrives is take said cargo, remove it from the vessel and discharge it directly into containers that will then be stored at the terminal itself, before eventually being loaded onto the container berth and placed on an outbound vessel. So what we are effectively doing is eliminating the work of hundreds of trucks traveling hundreds of kilometres around Turkey and neighbouring countries by providing a more efficient port-based service. This also represents a more environmentally friendly solution and one that is extremely cost effective and allows us to leverage the full capabilities of a multi-purpose terminal.”
At present, Yilport is developing on a number of fronts, one of which revolves around arguably its greatest asset, its people. “We have an intense focus right now on training,” Pierce enthuses, “and that involves everything from operations training, safety training and even the language training. We hold language courses for certain supervision and management personnel who are provided with the opportunity to develop as individuals and take on larger roles as the company expands domestically and internationally.”
Recent developments have seen the company open its E5 Terminal, a full service facility located seven kilometres away from Yilport Gebze, and the acquisition of an additional covered warehouse at the port that will accommodate both bonded and non-bonded transfer and storage operations. In addition to these events, and in support of Yilport Gebze and the newly acquired Yilport Rota and Gemport, the company has announced that it will introduce Eti Logistik to the region in order to provide integrated port, warehouse and trucking services to all its customers.
Despite the significant progress that Yilport has made in under a decade, Pierce is keen to highlight that this is a company that is just getting started. “To date we have been focused on building the foundations of a successful long-term business on a combination of people, processes and technology. With this now established we need to reach out to all manner of potential customers in the region in order to increase our own visibility.”
As well as further developing its home terminal, the company is also conscious of the opportunities that exist in other parts of the world, particularly relating to existing terminals and brownfield projects in places like Latin America and Africa. “In the future,” Pierce concludes, “I believe you will witness a scenario where we open up terminals in such areas and actually operate those facilities internationally, utilising the people we are training today. Wherever our activities take place, we will strive to carry with us our motto, ‘Privilege Becomes Standard”, and apply it to all that we do.”
Written by Will Daynes, research by Abi Abagun