A master and his story of success: “Ali Ateş... Almak Ateş Makine”
This is the story of perseverance, hard work and success…Just like in the old movies… But this is not a scenario, it is real … A career that started in Istanbul when he was only a child of 16 years old and now companies that lead the sector … We spoke to Ali Ateş, founder of Almak Ateş Makine, about this success story.
First of all can we get more acquainted with you? Who is Ali Ateş?
I was born in 1951 in the central Dereboğazı village, 20 km from Elazığ. After primary school, my father gave me as an apprentice, to a small lathe workshop in Elazığ at the age of 13. Of course there was no question of earning any money working as an apprentice at that time. My father would give the craftsman a little something to help me gain a vocation …
How did you become acquainted with production and the plastic sector?
When I was 16 years old, I set out from home to work in Istanbul. As soon as I arrived in Istanbul I started working at İnci Plastik Jüt AŞ, a company that is still in operation today, with the help of a relative. I worked with my boss, Taki Vatandost, may he have a long life, until I established my own workshop in 1974. I became acquainted with the plastic sector in 1968. When I was opening my own work shop I went to the Transtürk Holding company because I wanted to get a lath station. I had 20.000 TL in cash, but the station costed 144.000 TL. My boss Taki vouched for me against the 124.000 TL. They issued me a bond of debt and I made sure to pay off that debt before it was due so as not to disappoint my boss. Our production, which started out in a 60 m2 area in Topkapı in 1974, currently continues on 10,000 m2 in Esenyurt.
During those times we did not have the luxury of being selective about jobs, so our production continued on different plastic machines and spare parts manufacturing.
You established your own workshop and started production. What were the challenges of that time?
My first production was an agglomerate machine. In 1969 an Austrian made agglomerate machine had come to İnci Plastik. I made Turkey’s first agglomerate machine with inspiration from this machine. In addition to this I made Turkey’s first 10 mt greenhouse cover extruder for Göreme Plastic in 1974. I made pipe extruders for the Özen-İş Plastik company. We produced film extruders and granule machines for the major companies of that time like Vatan Plastik, İnci Plastik, Çopuroğlu Plastik, Göreme Plastik, Bilsan Plastik, Demir Plastik, etc. There was no technology at the time or research and development. We use to design and produce the machines that came from Europe ourselves with great skill. Sometimes we had to wait for a motor or a thermostat for weeks. Now you can find the materials you are looking for. We used to produce the reducers, screw barrels and heads of machines ourselves. There was no such thing as assembly machining.
How was Almak Ateş Makine founded? What kin of work did you do at this time and what was your vision?
I decided to branch out as Almak Ateş Makine over time because the sector began growing very large and the demand for screw barrels rose. This is the field we wanted to grow in. When I was starting screw barrel production there was only Hasan Manav, the owner of Hasmak, doing this work. In order to take the flag a little further I brought Turkey’s first deep drilling station in 1982 and Turkey’s first screw cutting station in 1985 from Germany. Until them all this work was being done with a lathe station. I continued production like this until 1994. In 1994 my older son Mustafa Ateş joined this business. We brought the first CNC screw cutting station from Italy. Then in 1998 we commissioned our first tempering furnace. With this furnace we became Turkey’s first and only integrated screw barrel facility. In the year 2000 we founded Altech. We decided to continue machine manufacturing with the experience we had accumulated. In 2004 I brought my younger son Emrah Ateş in to lead the company as a machine engineer at which time we became a company that exports to 60 countries throughout the world manufacturing plastic recycling machines.
Currently we have purchased property of 6000 m2 in Hannover, Germany, in addition to our two companies, and prepared a roadmap for starting production in Germany. Here we established a company marketing plastic equipment called Remaplast Gmbh. Also by setting up the Altech Makine showroom in Germany we have prepared a setting for our customers in Europe to try out our machines without having to come to Turkey.
Up to this point Ali Bey, we have learned that you have many firsts in your sector. What innovations have you achieved as Almak Makine? R&D and innovation are very important subjects in our present day … What are you doing in these fields?
Right now, our first priority in both Almak and Altech Makina is the importance we attach to R&D studies. In fact we have products that were produced for the first time in our country as a result of this work. As Almak Ateş Makine, we started to produce bi-metallic coated barrels in extruders and injection barrels in 2020, and thanks to these barrels, we have come a long way in terms of long life and abrasion resistance up to 4 times. We established Europe's 3rd bimetallic facility. With the bimetallic coating technology we transferred from Germany, we achieved very special coated casings with special alloy powders we developed in our own R & D. Of course we achieved this after 5 years of effort. Also, in our Altech Plastik Makinaları company, we have developed an automatic laser filter system with a patent belonging to our company as of 2020. Thanks to our automated laser filter produced for the first time in Turkey, Altech recycling extruders and the resulting granules are better quality and they have become machines that reach a higher level of performance without need a filter change as often. The Microfilt Laser Filter system, a very advantageous filter system in terms of price performance, forged a new era in our plastic recycling sector. The dynamic structure of the R&D team is what is behind this achievement. We try to manage our personnel like a soccer team. We do our best to achieve a good team game. Since we had embraced this as our company policy, we provided all the training necessary to our employees and took all necessary precautions when the pandemic going on in the world now first started. By making the necessary arrangements in our service buses and cafeteria, areas that the personnel have to use jointly, we created our own hygienic conditions. We doubled our services buses so that our personnel could sit one person to a row providing a fast solution to the issue. We also adapted colleagues to working at home whenever possible.
Our company had a dynamic year despite the pandemic. During the pandemic we became more resolute on our path. This became a turning point for R&D and innovations. Both Almak Ateş Makine AŞ and Altech AŞ will continue to successfully represent the screw-barrel and plastic machine sectors.
As an expert with many years of knowledge and experience do you have any recommendations and issues you wish to highlight?
My advice to young people is no matter what your job is, persevere and don’t give up the effort. The words I dislike most in life are “it will do”. You either do a job very well or you don’t start it at all. Do the work the way it deserves and aim to do the best. Your goal should not be to make money but to do a good job. If this is the path you determine for yourself the money will come along with it.