Dear BEYSAD readers,
3M, a global corporation renowned for its remarkable achievements worldwide, has recently launched a new Customer Innovation Center and continues to introduce innovations to us. We have made an interview with Dennis Lu, 3M Turkey Country Technical Leader, and asked him the secret behind 3M's reputation as an "innovation company". We are pretty sure you will enjoy reading this interview and learn from the experience and knowledge of this important BEYSAD member firm. We are grateful to Mr Lu for sparing his time to this interview amidst his busy schedule.
Mr. Dennis Lu, please tell us briefly about yourself and your professional career.
I have been working in 3M for 20 years in different technical positions, have been assigned as 3M Turkey’s technical manager, last year. I hold a BSc degree in Fine Chemicals from East China University of Science and Technology and I joined 3M China as a technical service engineer for the automotive division in 1994. In 2005, I was appointed to the position of Technical Manager for the Transportation R&D organization and in 2007 became Technical Manager for the Industrial & Transportation R&D organization, an organization of more than 150 R&D employees. I also played a leading role in the development of the China laboratory infrastructure and the China R&D center in Shanghai. In 2011, I moved to the US on a field engineering assignment, where I was responsible for leadership of the promotion of new window film coaters to the Chinese market.As 3M Turkey’s Technical Manager I’m focusing on further development of 3M’s R&D capabilities in Turkey, while facilitating important connections with the US and China laboratories. I’m also a member of the 3M Turkey MOC, Central East Europe Technical Operating Committee and the Technical Council.
Please tell us about 3M’s corporate identity.
For over 110 years, 3M has fostered a culture of creativity and new ideas. With more than 55.000 products, we continue to demonstrate an ability to combine highly innovative technologies in new and unexpected ways. Today, 3M has 5 main business groups which are Consumer Business Group, Electronic and Energy, Health Care, Industrial Products and Safety & Graphics Business Groups and these groups consist of 27 active sales and marketing divisions. 3M’s yearly revenue is 31, 8 billion dollars and it operates in 70 countries with a total of 89.000 employees.
Considering that you are holding more than 100 thousand patents, what would you recommend to manufacturers in Turkey, where the importance of innovation is an everyday topic?
Innovation starts with the needs, desires and expectations of the consumers/customers. The main principle is to listen and understand their problems to find the solutions because we believe that “Customer Inspired Innovation” is the central driver of our business.But the real innovation which 3M’s business model based on, is to invent new products that don’t exist before. Being visionary and monitoring needs and developments in the markets closely, are the key for innovation.
3M is described as an innovative company. What does this mean?
Investment in R&D and innovation is one the key elements which leads 3M to success. As a company that is aware of the importance of R&D, 3M allocates approximately 5, 5 percent of its yearly revenue to the endeavor. 3M’s business model is based on encouraging organic growth by inventing new products that did not exist before. The company’s business model not only creates new products, but also paves the way for new sectors such as coated abrasives, pressure sensitive tapes, respiration masks made by technology and fluoro materials. 3M globally has about 12.000 employees and 8.000 of its employees specifically work on R&D. 3M's innovation is the driving force of growth, reflecting the common ideas and technology culture. More than 35 percent of 3M's annual sales come from products developed inthe last five years. 3M has more than 40 Customer Innovation Center which are dedicated only to realizing the innovation process with the clients. These centers benefit from 3M's global R&D power and 46 technology platforms to meet the needs of customers.
With the recent launch of 3M’s new corporate brand platform – 3M Science. Applied to Life™. – the company aims to further demonstrate how its science impacts the world around us. The new brand platform reflects what 3M is at its core; a company that uses science with a purpose and solving our customers’ problems.
Could you inform us about 3M Turkey and where it stands in the management chart in your global organization?
3M has been operating in Turkey since 1987 and currently has 600 employees. In terms of income, Turkey is first largest country in Central and Eastern Europe as of the first quarter of 2015. Since entering the market in 1987, 3M Turkey has achieved many milestones. In 1988, 3M launched its Scotch-Brite brand in Turkey. In 1992, 3M installed the first production facility in and started the production from Turkey. Since 1992, 3M has expanded its portfolio with the introduction of new and innovative products each year. In 2001, the production of safety products industry, in 2002 industrial / filter product line production, in 2005 personal care products, in 2008 automotive products and in 2009 production of health care products was begun at the facility.
Please tell us about the story of 3M’s investments in Turkey.
In 2012, 3M celebrated its 25th year in the market and in the same year the decision was made to invest in a second production facility (Super Hub) that would become a regional production base. 3M, which is continuing its production in Çerkezköy whose area spans 60,000 square meters, laid the foundation for the Super Hub investment in 2012. Super Hub Çorlu has started initial production in February 2015 and the facility will open at the end of the year. This will be a big step forward in terms of 3M’s growth target in Turkey as well as the Central and East Europe region. Super Hub production facility in Çorlu will be spread over an area of 200,000 square meters. 3M’s investment in the new Super Hub will be 500 million USD and it will have a total annual sales value (SVOT) of 1 billion USD in the years to come.
3M has 10 Super Hub facilities outside of the US and the company chose Turkey for 11th Super Hub facility investment. The new site will be situated in Çorlu and will be the 3rd Super Hub operation in Europe, Middle East and Africa. The investment of Çorlu Super Hub is an important investment for 3M’s growth target in Turkey, Central and Eastern Europe countries. This investment will increase the number of highly skilled employees in the region, become an important logistical hub in the region as well as increasing production and export capacity for 3M Turkey.
Recently, you launched your Customer Innovation Center. Please tell us about its purpose and activities.
Besides our investments in manufacturing facilities, we are also investing in R&D. Our Customer Innovation Centers are designed to provide customers opportunities to test and experience 3M products with the guidance of R&D team. 3M has 50 Customer Innovation Centers around the world that are dedicated solely to conducting innovation processes with customers. These centers draw upon 3M’s global R&D strength and 46 technology platforms to engage and collaborate with customers, putting innovations to work to help to meet their needs.
R&D work at 3M consists of two main components. The first component is the technical staff in the field; a group of highly skilled application engineers working closely with the customer, identifying the need, understanding their requirements, and bringing the problem to the lab. The second component is the staff working within the manufacturing site, at the R&D lab, who are responsible for using both local and global R&D know-how of 3M for both adaptation of a product or totally creating new product for our customers.
In addition, R&D labs need to be closely connected with application labs; these are known as Customer Innovation Centers and are designed to provide customers opportunities to test, experience 3M products with the guidance of 3M technical staff. Thus, 3M is constantly renewing itself in order to meet the needs of customers and advance its technology. The new Customer Innovation Center is not only the key step in the process to increase the quality of the technology and products, but also plays an important role in adding value to customers by improving the efficiency and increasing productivity in manufacturing.
What is your rate of exports from Turkey?
3M Turkey is among the top 400 exporter, currently exporting to 55 countries. Through the years, 3M Turkey has become a major exporter in the market. In 2013, 3M Turkey increased its export figures by 25%, thus moving up 79 places to enter the top 400 major exporter companies in Turkey at number 396. In 2013, 3M Çerkezköy factory exported to 39 countries and as of 2014, this number increased to 55.
We are pleased to have 3M as a member in Turkey. It is said that BEYSAD is unique in the world. Are you a member to any association or non-governmental organization similar to ours abroad? What are your views on BEYSAD and expectations from the association?
BEYSAD (White Goods Suppliers Association) is a unique association and we are very happy and honored to be the member of this NGO. We believe that BEYSAD plays an important role in communicating the common issues of the industry more effectively and obtaining more tangible results in comparison with individual efforts.
Going forward, what are your growth targets and goals both in Turkey and the global?
At 3M, we try to create a livable world for the entire humanity. We use our competence, expertise and technologies to provide innovative solutions by considering their long term effects. From product development to manufacturing, to even the usage of them by our customers, in every field sustainability is a top priority for us. We always keep supporting economic, social and environmental sustainability. In this sense, our vision is clear; we respect the needs of future generations while providing for the current social needs.
We also opened a Customer Innovation Center in Turkey in 2015.This investment in Turkey emphasizes the importance 3M attributes to the Turkish market. 3M Turkey employs 30 engineers who work in the R&D field today. With the addition of the Çorlu Super Hub investment, 3M will enlarge its R&D activities in Turkey. Along with this expansion, 3M will hire more highly qualified R&D personnel and its team of R&D engineers in Turkey will increase by 3 fold. This team with be responsible for the R&D process in the development of products will enter the global market as well as Turkey. Thus with its increased production capability, 3M Turkey will also become a major hub for production and logistics in the region.
Enjoying worldwide renown with its product line, 3M has achieved many international successes. To which firms do you provide services?
With its many divisions 3M plays an important role in many sectors from automotive to home cleaning supplies, from construction to healthcare. As a company that has been operating in Turkey for close to 30 years, we have worked with most of the leading factories in each sector.
3M is everywhere – in your work, in your home, in your life – from your smart phone to your shoes.