“I strongly encourage young women to research well before they start, build a solid business plan and stay honest and passionate”
Fisun Usta, Owner of PAK Yikama and USTEK RFID Solutions
- Owner of PAK Yikama, an industrial laundry service in the Istanbul area
- PAK has a daily workload of 40 tonnes of laundry
- Owner of USTEK RFID Solutions, a company that sells radio frequency textile tracking system equipment and software
It did not take Fisun Usta long to do some valuable research to find out if there was a gap in the laundry services market for the numerous hotels in the Istanbul region. As a result, she founded PAK Yikama in 1988, an industrial laundry serving the region’s hotels and hospitals. In 2008, after carrying out another research project, this time on radio frequency identification technology in the laundry, alongside her son she founded her second company: USTEK RFID Solutions. Today, PAK Yikama operates with this innovative system, making both her companies real family affairs.
WEgate: Tell us more about your company
Fisun Usta: We have two companies that are essentially interlinked and strongly encourage and support each other’s growth.
One is PAK Yikama, an industrial laundry that has been working with hotels and hospitals in the Istanbul area since 1988. We currently have 180 employees across four RAL-certified plants (a label indicating quality reliability and the highest quality).
In the third quarter of 2016, we will open our new 22 000-square-metre plant in the Tuzla industrial zone in Istanbul.
In 2006, my son Kutluhan Usta and I started a research and development project to explore the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology in the laundry. It raised so much interest that two years later it became a separate company: USTEK RFID Solutions.
Since 2010, PAK has operated 100 % with RFID so that we are able to individually monitor in real time every single textile item in circulation 24/7. USTEK manufactures and sells UHF RFID tags, equipment and software to many laundries around the globe. Our products are now being used in 15 countries, including the UK, USA, Benelux, France, Germany, Romania, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey.
What or who inspired you to set up your own business?
In 1988, my husband and his family owned a hotel which was using a laundry service from the internal laundry of another hotel. But they were not happy with the service they were getting, so after some quick market research I found out that there were many hotels but no laundry service in the neighbourhood. So I decided to start my own.
What challenges did you face when you decided to launch your company? Did you have any sort of support from organisations?
Back in those days, it was easier to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t have much difficulty but I didn’t get any support from other organisations either.
Entrepreneurship is still often considered a man's territory; what advice would you give young women who want to become an entrepreneur?
I strongly encourage young women to research well before they start, build a solid business plan and stay honest and passionate. I’d advise them to stay motivated even if they are not able to earn a lot in the first year. Lastly, I’d like them always to remember that prestige is everything.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I am proud to see that my personal initiative has now become our family business and a sustainable investment for generations to come. My younger son Hakan Usta is the purchasing manager at PAK, my older son Kutluhan Usta leads our RFID business, and my daughter-in-law Hilvan Usta leads our RFID textiles and business development at USTEK RFID Solutions.
I enjoy the satisfaction of watching the clean, fresh linen leaving our plants every morning and, thanks to our radio frequency textile tracking (RFTT) system, I like being able to monitor the movement of thousands of items that circulate between our laundry and our customers.
I believe transparency and acting with dignity is key to success in business.