The glittering lights of Salzburg had quite a dizzying effect on the young man. He stayed there for nearly three months. He was planning on adding his own money to his father's in order to buy a threshing machine, but soon found that the amount they had expected to pay did not match the actual price. He was out of money. Aktaş returned to Aksaray. He lied to his father that the threshing machine would “arrive within a month” but his father's growing suspicions finally led to his son's admission of truth. He was unable to buy the threshing machine but Europe was still on his mind. He continually asked permission from his father to return to Europe and finally convinced him and started out for Munich.
His story begins with a threshing machine, but his European adventure led Ahmet Aktaş to founding the Efe Fırat brand of food products, one of the biggest Turkish brands on the market. Having entered the food market in 1973, he now employs almost 700 people (150 of whom work in Germany) and produces nearly 1800 different goods, many of which fill the shelves of European markets.
Aktaş played a large role in transferring the food market from the hands of the Greeks to those of the Turks in the 1970s. “The Greeks turned towards the restaurant business, while the food market stayed with us”, he says.
The company Efe Fırat Feinkost Limited's headquarters is located in the town of Achim, located to the south-east of Bremen in Germany. Two of Aktaş's brothers, Seyhan and Hakan, run the two branches located in Bremen (opened in 1985) and Hamburg (opened in 1987).
“We worked very hard- 18 hours a day. In those initial years it was hard to get the supply of goods that we needed. The packaging was defective. Opportunities for transportation were scarce, but we didn't give in. We worked shoulder-to-shoulder, as brothers, day and night. That is how we arrived here today”, he states.
From cheese to tea, canned goods to olives, legumes to meat products, Efe Fırat maintains 1800 different varieties of food products and sells its products in 18 of Germany's important grocery chains.
Efe Fırat’s founder Aktaş states that when he formed his first company he didn't have the Turkish ethnic market in mind but rather the total 400 million people living in Europe and claims that he has attained that goal today. The second generation is now involved with the firm. Their future plans include forming a market chain that will sell their own products.
Efe Fırat not only secures food items for Turkey but also the various countries of Europe. There are 18 factories in Turkey that produce goods for Efe Fırat. In the nearly 35 years that have passed since forming the company, Aktaş emphasizes that producing high-quality goods has been the reason for the brand's success.
“I would never sell a product that I would not feed to my own family. We make a point in finding the best materials and products to use,” he states. (October 2007, 26th Issue)