02/09/2010 - 00:00

Breaking bread the Turkish way

02/09/2010 - 00:00


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A burgeoning bakery has been built on strong family foundations. Russell Quinn reports.

Breaking bread the Turkish way

OPENING a bakery without having a formally trained baker on staff doesn’t particularly inspire confidence as a recipe for success.

But in the case of the Genc family’s Turkish Bakeries, the passion and skill of all members of this family-run business have created a healthy balance that drives its growing reputation.

At the helm of the East Victoria Park-based Turkish Bakeries is managing director and co-owner, Ceyda Genc.

Ms Genc told Gusto she joined her father in the business almost a decade ago after working in sales and customer service management in Sydney’s financial and metals markets.

During this time her mechanically minded father, Hasan, owned a popular kebab shop called The Turkish Oven on Albany Highway in Victoria Park for many years.

“We had a kebab shop we worked at together before I went to Sydney,” Ms Genc says.

“When I came back he had built a wood-fired oven in our kebab shop and had started making a lot of Turkish bread.

“He’s not a baker by trade at all, neither am I and none of us in the family are actually, but it’s the way they used to work with bread in those style ovens when my parents were born and we were born.”

Ms Genc is referring to her family’s birthplace in Turkey, a small village called Trabzon on the Black Sea.

It was here that her father learned to produce authentic Turkish breads and other regional culinary creations, using customary tools and techniques on traditional stone deck ovens – these stone decks are especially thick to hold heat for longer periods of time.

Ms Genc says her father returned to his native Turkey to buy one of these special heavy stone deck ovens for about $30,000 (as wood-fired ovens are less consistent than their stone deck counterparts) before leasing the premises alongside the kebab shop to launch the new venture.

“One oven and one mixer and my dad and this small panel van is what we started with,” she says.

“I really wanted to grow something very successful with my dad and wanted him to be proud.

“My dad is very humble; he always gives a lot to his four daughters. He’s never had much and he’s always wanted to build something for us.”

Ms Genc suggests a combination of her Sydney experience, a positive mindset and plenty of hard work helped in the bakery’s early days.

“I was pretty good at marketing and sales, and was pretty confident,” she says.

“I didn’t know anything about bread in this market but I thought if I could tackle Sydney in the metals markets and financials markets then I’m pretty sure I could handle bread and handle WA.

“My attitude was that I could figure it out.”

Ms Genc’s father, mother and sisters helped grow the business, taking turns at mixing ingredients, operating the oven, managing logistics, delivering products and establishing relationships with clients.

During the past 10 years, Ms Genc says Turkish Bakeries has grown from a handful of clients and just two product lines to more than 1,000 loyal customers (including national grocery store chains and local franchises) and about 50 different products as turnover improved from “almost nothing” to about $5 million a year.

After finishing her post-graduate degree in marketing at Curtin University Ms Genc, who is also a WA Business News 40under40 award winner, has embarked on a business development course at Curtin to help manage the bakery’s impressive growth trajectory.

She also has plans to visit various boutique bakeries in the US and attend local and international trade shows for further inspiration.

In the meantime, the family is searching for new premises because the existing five units are “bursting at the seams”. Ms Genc also plans to launch a second brand in the coming months, called the Naked Bakery Company, which will be preservative and additive free creations “close to home baking”.

“And I’d also like to open a shopfront at our new premises,” she says.

“That’s the dream.”



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