Marble Trend - The problem is the mentality, not the pandemic

Hüseyin Arslan is an architect who takes pride in Turkey being a natural stone country. In the Lion Art Gallery located in Menderes, Izmir, not only the products of its own quarry but also many marvelous Turkish stones are presented to the world. One should also mention his success in presentation. We visited Lion Stone Art during the pandemic and talked about the sector’s situation with Hüseyin Arslan. We started by asking the pandemic’s impact on the sector, and Arslan changed the topic saying, “The problem is the mentality, not the pandemic.” He took a sip from his tea and said, “Valuing your stone is more important than anything”, and continued, “The mentality was the same before the pandemic, and it’ hasn’t changed. It’s the person himself who values something. You should value your stone first. The mentality that competition means undercutting is a worse threat to the sector than the pandemic itself. People should realize that quality always sells anywhere. The condition for a good business is a qualified product and reliable service. Without these two things combined, there’s no chance that you succeed. I believe that each company aiming at becoming a world brand must have this approach instead of undercutting to save the day.”

And where is this “mentality problem” that he mentions taking the sector to? Arslan says, “I don’t want my country to lose” and paints a negative picture: “Let me give you an example. Many “new” stones, which look like our products, are launched to the market, forcing us to increase our prices. Do you know why? Because if we had undercut our prices to compete, we would’ve closed our quarry a long time ago. We’ve never had the “Let’s produce a lot to sell a lot” approach, which is quite popular in the sector. But if quarry owners continue like this, the sector might suffer a 50% shrunk market in 5-10 years. And its reason will be overproduction, underpriced products, unstable prices, and unreliable service for the clients. I want the Turkish brand to avoid damage and the importers to buy our stones so that Turkey wins.”

Well, that’s the negative picture of Hüseyin Arslan. What’s the solution then? Arslan, general director at Lion Stone Art, continues without rest, “Rather than overproducing, the quarries should control production and consider the market’s demand when producing. That’s how they restore stability to the price and avoid price pressure caused by overproduction. Think about it. If there is excess production despite low demand, the client will always want to purchase the most qualified among the products. This will result in the accumulation of lower quality products in the quarry in time. The solution is controlled production. They should prevent overproduction and sell all products of different quality to clients. We sell natural stones, presenting the beauty of nature to people. Looking for minor imperfections in a “natural” product would be wrong. We should respect these gifts of nature.”
As we end our interview, we step into the Lion Stone Art Gallery. His eyes shine with excitement as he looks at the stones. He ephsizes the importance of presentation and cocludes his words, “For us each stone in this gallery is important. Even if it’s the worst stone of a quarry, the moment it enters this gallery, we see the value in it. Because I believe that none of the natural stones are bad. What makes the natural stone seem bad is a result of wrong marketing, wrong presentation, or a wrong project. What’s important is that the stone is used where it is suitable. The stones we sell are our national treasure. So it’s all about our country. Our national mines must be appreciated. I don’t want my country to lose.”