"Sumerbank was the founder and the leader of Turkey's modern industry, … it is the most important achievement of Ataturk's economic revolution"
Little is left to remind the visitor of the factory's glorious past. Fenced off and deserted, the remnants of the former production halls, reduced to delapidated and rusty buildings, stand in the middle of overgrowing paths. The former office buildings are currently undergoing renovation. They will soon house appartments and offices of Erciyes University.
In 1932, the Turkish government put together a first first-year economic plan. Then Prime Minister Ismet Inonu secured a credit from the Soviet Union for the construction of the Sumerbank plant in Kayseri. The factory opened in September 1935. Designed, financed and equipped with machinery by the Soviet Union, it was a direct replica of similar Soviet cotton plants.
The Kayseri plant, like all state enterprises, was directly under the control of the Ministry of Industry. The Minister appointed the General Manager. There was little autonomy at the plant level.
From the late 70s onwards, the factory struggled to remain competitive. Labour costs continued to rise, while sales dropped. The last general director Omer Altinay remembered: "The state was paying, we were spending." In 1987 Sumerbank Holding was scheduled for privatisation. Early in 2002, Omer Altinay returned the keys to the Treasury and closed the chapter of half a century of state-led industrialisation in Kayseri.