OUR FOUNDER

The oft-repeated maxims of our founder Mehmet Zorlu still shed light on the path of  Zorlu Holding staff: “You must be honest, you must work hard, and you must act responsibly. You must not say, ‘I’ve been all I can be;’ you must keep working to give more people their bread and butter. You must love your country, you must be truehearted, and you must absolutely be on good terms with the future.” 

Mehmet Zorlu, who laid the foundations of our group, was born in 1919 in the Babadağ county of Denizli which is famous for a particular type of locally woven cloth. After finishing middle school, he took up the family profession of weaving in Babadağ where textiles had been the only means of subsistence for centuries.

Like the other Babadağ folk, whose lives were spent weaving fabrics, Mehmet Zorlu and his wife Saide seldom took time off from the loom that barely fit inside their home.


Their sons Zeki and Ahmet were the greatest helpers of their father during their childhood years in the 1950s.

The incessant sound of the household loom, which practically kept running non-stop as mother and father took turns operating it night and day, was the backdrop to the childhood memories of both brothers. Playing with balls of thread at 4 or 5, the two brothers became masterful weavers by their primary school years.

The foundations of Zorlu Holding, one of the largest holdings in Turkey today, were laid by Mehmet Zorlu in that small house. Textile manufacturing grew to include trade as the Yükselen Unlimited Company was founded in Babadağ in 1953, laying the foundations of today’s Zorlu Holding.  

Firmly adopting honesty and quality as guiding principles in commerce, Mehmet Zorlu and his brother toured Anatolia, selling bed sheets produced by other manufacturers in their hometown alongside their own. The store opened in Trabzon years later at the behest of Ahmet Zorlu, became the second turning point in the family’s business life.

Having learnt the ins and outs of trade from their father as they did with weaving, Zorlu brothers affirm, “We owe all we know about life to our father.”

The words “Son, you must be honest, you must work hard, and you must act responsibly. You must not say, ‘I’ve been all I can be;’ you must keep working to give more people their bread and butter. You must love your country, you must be truehearted, and you must absolutely be on good terms with the future” that still ring in their earshave shaped the working lives of Zorlu brothers.

 

Ahmet Zorlu explains the greatest legacy the brothers inherited from their father: “What our father handed down to us was ‘trust’ and it keeps following us wherever we go. Whenever we bought or sold goods, the other party would think, ‘These are the sons of Mehmet Zorlu; they ought to be trustworthy people.’ To live up to this reputation and honor my commitments to customers, I remember carrying 40-kilo bales from one van to another when every other trader had given up the hope of travel because roads were blocked by floods.”

Mehmet Zorlu always stood by his sons as they moved on from trade to industry, giving them low-keyed advice and sharing his opinions but never intervening in their business affairs. He spent the rest of his life in the lands where he was born and became “Mehmet Baba” to the townspeople of Babadağ.

Zorlu Group took the rough with the smooth during their journey of more than 60 years. The roughest moment came at midnight on 5 July 2005 when the 26,000-strong Zorlu family lost its founder Haji Mehmet Zorlu. 

Haji Mehmet Zorlu keeps on working for Turkey’s future today through the foundation set up in his name in 1999.