Mersin-based Turkish Company Koluman has started delivering logistic support trucks to the Turkish Armed Forces. The company has turned its eyes to export markets as its product proved at the Turkish Army’s acceptance tests. Koluman, invited by DSEI, showcased its works in the United Kingdom and attended the MSPO Expo in Kielce, Poland. The third step was to show the vehicle to the German manufacturer Daimler and its trade mark Mercedes-Benz.
Daimler invited Koluman to an exclusive event in Germany. Marcus Ernst, Head of Sales Defence and Industrial business Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks, gave an interview while Dr Önder Ege, Consultant to the Koluman board, was with him.
When asked why the event was held, Mr Ernst said that Daimler attended all major defence expos focused on land forces like the Eurosatory and IDEX. He explained that such expos are held every two years and that they miss the direct contact, the direct dialogue, the discussions with customers, the markets, and the business partners like Koluman. Instead of talking to them over the phone, the company brings all business partners, all markets and customers with them at one event.
Mr Ernst said, “The big advantage is that we can design and create this event like we would like to have this” and added, “So, the major reason is to be directly in contact with our business partners and customers besides major exhibitions.”
Koluman brought its 8X8 Derman truck to Germany and presented it to the market. When asked his opinion about Derman, Ernst explained the company’s strategic perspective.
“Several years ago, we took a strategic decision not to do engineering and production of protection by ourselves. This is not our core competence. There are companies like Koluman. They are really specialists in protecting trucks or vehicles as itself.
So, in taking this decision, our next question was how to build up a strategic partner network.” Ernst underlines that establishing reliable partnerships is the most important part of this strategic vision. “We do not see Koluman as just a supplier, but this is really a partnership. So we founded some kind of business model which is it’s called OEM business model,” Head of Sales added.
He explained that they had to listen to the customer and understand its requirements and priorities. Daimler, therefore, asked partner companies to act as “translators” between the customer and the company. “Koluman is a beautiful example. They know exactly what the Turkish Armed Forces would like to have. So Koluman is the translator between the end customer and the technical solution,” Ersnt explained. He added that they do not themselves in the role of the general contractor or OEM. Ernst explained, “Companies like Koluman know exactly what is necessary to know, all expertise in terms of protection and interfaces to the vehicle. So, we said, let’s do the job together, and we follow a certain logic, a certain process beginning from prototyping and the end, at the end of the day, it’s, let’s say, some kind of certificate by us.”
When asked about his personal view on the Turkish defence industry, especially unmanned vehicles, Mr Ernst reminded that Turkiye is a NATO member country. He underlined that Daimler and Koloman have a proven strategic partnership, and Daimler has deep knowledge of unmanned systems. “We’re really quite open. The question at the end of the day is what really makes sense. So, suppose there’s really business behind and from my previous experience as an officer of the German armed forces. In that case, I know exactly that there will be a difference between autonomous driving on and off-road.
We are steadily seeking partnerships where we do not see ourselves or where we do not see a field of core competence. So the door is open for every company interested to discuss, let’s say, next steps with us in terms of technology.”