Next Generation Leadership

Bringing Flavors to Life…A Story of Hard Work and Inspiration

February 14, 2012 By Kristina Magnuson

Graye Pelletier, MBA 2013, writes about Murat Yasa’s visit to the Family Enterprise class last week.  Mr. Yasa flew in from Istanbul, Turkey. 

“Genius is 1% Inspiration, 99% perspiration,” is a phrase that Murat Yasa chooses to live by. Having started a successful flavor company, Aromsa, in his native country of Turkey, Mr. Yasa explained to our class last Wednesday how hard work and passion can pay off. Celebrating 30 years of business this year, Aromsa is one of the leading companies in the world for creating and manufacturing unique flavors for food.

Murat started class by explaining just how hard he had to work to get where he is today. Having graduated from one of the top high schools in Istanbul, Murat had already learned two languages and earned his way through college by tutoring local students and working part-time.  He explained a typical day in his early twenties involved being a student from 8am until 1pm, having a marketing job from 1pm until 6pm and tutoring from 6pm until midnight. He only had time for sleep. Nonetheless, Murat managed to graduate from college, serve his time in the military and become a general manager of a flavor company by the age of 28, all in the midst of a lingering economic crisis in Turkey.

Despite his success as a general manager, Murat knew he needed more out of his professional career, specifically freedom. He saw the need for a flavor producer in Turkey and knew he had the passion, determination and acumen to start his own venture. He was offered 223 sqft of space in a friend’s factory and $7000 to bring his dream to life. Murat jumped at the opportunity and while he faced many hard challenges early on -such as no water or electricity, disgruntled neighbors and contamination issues, Murat forged ahead.

Another powerful quote appeared on his slides, “Never overlook luck and coincidence.” Murat continued his story describing an early sunny July morning that proved to be a major turning point in Aromsa’s triumphs.  Murat’s desk telephone rang at 7:00am one morning.  A local owner of a chocolate and biscuit company was calling with a need for a new coconut flavor which no company had been able to fulfill previously. Murat responded quickly, getting a sample on the caller’s desk that same day, satisfying the owner’s request and it wasn’t before long that Aromsa became the business’s largest client.  Needless to say, the successful interaction from that sunny morning continues to be quite important, as that client later purchased Godiva and is currently the 10th largest confectionery in the world.  Notable is that this client still gets the majority of it’s flavorings from Aromsa.

Apart from his business accomplishments, Murat’s devotion to his family was a clear theme throughout his speech last Wednesday. Much of Murat’s inspiration came from his father. Not long after building Aromsa, Murat’s father came to help out with the business. And while the two admittedly butted heads on company endeavors, they learned to work together by dividing the work and playing to each other’s strengths. Murat is also deeply devoted to his two daughters, one who already works with Aromsa and the other, a soon-to-be KFBS graduate, who expects to work with the business in the near future.

Murat’s story is an amazing testament to his principles. He is not only a hard worker but he inspires his employees to do so by setting high standards and expectations. He believes in re-investing in the company and that is evident with Murat’s dedication to choosing the right employees and keeping them committed. Aromsa’s on-site fitness center and library are two examples of just how Murat invests in his employees. Finally, Murat’s steadfast commitment to quality improvement is what keeps Aromsa churning; and after listening to his speech, it is clear Murat is resolute in keeping the business dynamic. When asked about the accomplishments of Aromsa, Murat responded, “Mt. Everest is the goal- so perfection has no limit.”

It was a pleasure to meet Murat Yasa. He is truly an inspiring individual whose values will undoubtedly stay with Aromsa for many generations to come.