Woman takes over father’s quarry, expands business
Rıza Özel - MUĞLA
A female lawyer had to get into marble business after his father’s death, with the company’s five-year growth figure being 210 percent.
Alpay Marble Quarry, established by her father, Gökhan Alpay, in the Aegean province of Muğla in 1996, was left unclaimed when he died in 2017 as the other sisters were 21 and 10 years old.
Melike Alpay Özmen, then 27, was working as an international lawyer in the field of corporate law in Istanbul. “I had to leave the plaza and head the marble quarry and factories in Muğla as I couldn’t leave the job my father worked for.”
She found herself in the middle of a male-dominated marble quarry. However, the words “She can’t do it as a woman, she will sell the quarry” motivated her, she said.
“There is no uncle, no older brother or no man to take responsibility in the family. Even our relatives said, ‘How can a woman do it on her own?’” she stated.
“As the first job, I increased the number of female employees by 70 percent. Women made the difference here,” she explained her success story.
The growth figure of the company between 2017 and 2022 is 210 percent, she noted. “They now started to say that ‘Alpay Marble was touched by a woman.’”
“We increased the number of women working in the production area and administrative units at the factory to 67, while our goal is to increase the female employment rate of 35 percent in our factories to 50 and above,” she said.
In five years, the company increased its exports by 50 percent and its production by 160 percent.
When equal opportunities are provided, women can succeed on their own, she stressed.
Alpay Özmen also pointed out that the company “has come a long way in terms of sustainable environment.”
The solar panels on the roofs meet the electricity requirements, they try to expand the product range with R&D studies in order to minimize the waste in the marble quarry, they transform our waste into calcite, which can be used again in different fields and they strive to reduce the factories’ carbon footprint, she said.
Most of Alpay Marble’s managers and employees are also women. İlknur Gültekin Öncü, the general manager, has been working at the company for eight years, while industrial engineer Ganimet Can Kocabıyık, has been working as a production manager for four years.
The oldest female in the company is Şenay Dağlı, a marble worker. She has been sweating in this business for 18 years. The youngest, on the other hand, is 27-year-old Elif Gön, who started working at the factory just six months ago.
Alpay Özmen, who was a member of the Aegean Mineral Exporters’ Association Board of Directors in the previous term, served as the deputy chair of the Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Industry this term.