World class player

20 September 2023

Tolon, the long-established Turkish manufacturer, has, in a very short time, encircled the world as demand escalates for its precision-engineered, technologically advanced commercial laundry solutions

Who can tell a company’s story better than workers who have been there for a quarter of a century; who have lived through the old days and witnessed the progress since; who have experienced former management and learned with the new? And who have been totally committed to the journey?

For Tolon, one such person is Cengiz Yeter, R&D manager, who has been with the company for 25 years. He has known and worked with two generations of Tolons. He is extremely passionate about production and feels great pride in the improvements. His emotional ties with his work and Tolon are strong since he has been in a core position during the growth and recent global success of the company. Having put half of his life and work into the company and its products, he admits to being proud about that.

Yeter’s anecdotes and memories give us a better understanding of what’s behind the success Tolon has achieved to date. Let’s look deeper at the background of his experiences with Tolon.

What is behind the acceleration?

Yeter entered the company when CNCbased production was in its early days. He is full of memories about the introduction of each new production method and machine. During his career he has seen great advancements in machinery improvements in Turkey, working in parallel with growth of Tolon.

The Tolon family has for generations made modern methods and most advanced applications their compass, Yeter confirms. Adopting faster, more flexible, leaner and more effective production methods has always been on the company’s agenda. Fast and faultless production has been their first and foremost ambition.

Global expansion?

“A modern mindset has always been central to the Tolon family but the ambition to export and secure a place as a global player was very much the aspiration of the third generation,” Yeter explains. In his words, managing director Ömer Tolon, with his knowledge of the European market, his strategic insight to export to avoid domestic economical volatilities, his experiences from network and observations at overseas Expos, has steered Tolon’s focus on global expansion. With feedback collected from former customers, lessons passed from father to son and the modern mindset combined, Tolon changed its direction to globalisation and accelerated with a contemporary approach to production.

“The third generation acknowledges that the laundry is their core business and in their DNA,” Yeter highlights. “Focus is put on manufacturing industrial laundry equipment, thus all other activities have been weeded out to secure the future direction for Tolon’s essence.”

The Tolon family business

Kamil Tolon, founded the business in 1937, making its first household washing machine in 1950. Then his son Dara Tolon introduced industrial laundry machines from 1970. Global expansion accelerated from 2000s with the third generation Tolon Brothers.The fourth generation is already in the business, represented by Efe Tolon who is the domestic sales operations director.

Yeter recalls feeling welcomed as a son and accepted as a part of the family immediately in his first days in the company. When he looks at the Tolon family, he sees a functional team, hardworking and egalitarian in nature.

It is clear from Yeter’s descriptions that the Tolon brothers’ management style has been, and continues to be, supportive, solution-oriented and inclusive. “This is a family actively involved in the business, in the factory and very hands-on with the machines. They are in touch with all the production personnel, knowing their joys and troubles. For me, working with them is a privilege.”

The continuity of the family ensures a consistent corporate doctrine which articulates criteria for success as always doing better; simple solutions; timely delivery of what customers ask for; and building machines that require minimum service. These are well inherited lessons from the older generation which are carried on by not only the Tolon brothers but also by the continuity of workers who have been trained by the craftsmen before them.

Partnership with Jensen-Group

“The Tolon brothers’ passion and sincerity attracted attention and sealed a partnership with industry leader Jensen- Group.” Yeter proudly acknowledges this achievement becoming the flagship event for Tolon’s permanent entrance into the global arena.

“Synergies emerged from that partnership that prompted the improvement of processes, components of machines and sales took a holistic approach to markets and machine quality was standardised.”

What makes Tolon stand out?

“When Jensen-Group and Tolon signed their partnership in 2016, Jesper Jensen said: ‘I trusted the Tolon brothers. They are young, they do what they set their mind on.’ It is a matter of trust.

“We always set our minds, made quick decisions, and we never lost time dwelling in doubts. We never had time or tolerance to lose time. We always acted, learned, fixed and did better. We’ve been a team of doers. That way we arrived to today’s success with no deceleration,” said Yeter.

How Tolon differentiates

“We put customer satisfaction first. If the machine works continuously and carries on doing its job properly without frequent repair requirements then we count ourselves successful. Our motto is ‘plug in and go’. Customer satisfaction is central for us. There have been many instances when we found potential to improve and proactively visited the customers to make the required improvements before we were called out to sort them.To remain in the market, it’s important to be able to stand by the integrity of the machine.”

The importance of selling the right machine to the right customer is acknowledged as one of the key pillars of customer satisfaction, therefore sales teams are trained and urged to understand client needs and consult them for the most suitable solution. When asked what is their most prominent product, Yeter becomes sentimental: “I cannot single out any, they are as my own children.” Thereby illustrating the amount of effort and attention that is put in each machine at Tolon.

The new generation

Yeter describes Ömer Tolon – general manager and third generation member of the Tolon family – as a “visionary man”. With his capacity for concentration on the matter at hand product development has even recorded instances where working prototypes of new machines were produced as rapidly as just three months.

Hot topics at Tolon

Hard mounts are on the agenda for the R&D team right now due to rising demand from various parts of the globe which has pushed Tolon to expand the product portfolio. The launch of these hard mount machines is expected soon as the project matures rapidly.

Other innovations to expect from Tolon are a new control panel, technical updates in dryers, upgrades and expansions in production capabilities with more advanced machines. A new warehouse in the US is on the way to speed up services in the Americas. Upcoming days seems to be very promising in Tolon, so be ready to visit their stand at TexCare in 2024.

In summary

In Yeter’s words, it’s clear there has been a legacy of a mindset that has driven the Tolon family for generations. “Having an exceptionally curious engineer/ inventor mindset, they have grown up in a place where machines have been their playground. Thanks to this inherited personality, their success comes from knowing the machines inside out, part by part and by heart.

“They have been a family who set their mindset towards modernity, towards top advancements and they were quickest to catch and adopt novel techniques and implementations.Such loyalty and devotion to the business with members hands-on with the machines is unique and rarer nowadays especially in family businesses with later generations.

“The Tolon family values ensure a company culture which promotes acting fast, goal-orientedness, and staying focused until the goals are reached. .

“We always had an urgency, we always had aims, and we always tried to design the right machine.”

INVALUABLE INPUT: Cengis Yeter, left, with Serkan Çuhadarolu, global sales support manager
PREMIER PARTNERS: Ömer Tolon, Jesper Jensen and Can Tolon celebrate the Tolon and Jensen-Group tie-up
PRODUCTION LINE: Tolon’s well-ordered production site at Izmir, Turkey
DYNAMIC LEADERSHIP: Ömer Tolon, left, with Robert Tye of Gotli Labs

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