In 1996, before Russian orders dried up borrowing was easy but, when and customers could not pay, banks had to call in these loans. This era of reckless lending is history. Banks went under and took many leather industry firms along with them but the ones who remain are leaner, more objective and ambitious.

Everything was big before – big mixing drums (90 tons capacity), big dyeing drums and monumental financial responsibilities. Now Omer Camcioglu of Mareks Export Company Limited, a maker of wooden and stainless steel mixing drums, is comfortable with his more compact company, but he focuses almost entirely on specific export markets where he knows he can succeed. One of his stainless steel drums went to a Lebanese customer who tans camel hides. In 2002, he sold 29 drums to Sudan, Algeria, Syria and Russia and he has quoted on several turn-key projects. For 2003, sales of drums should top thirty-five.

Camcioglu told Leather International: ‘Europeans order most of their tanning drums from Italy. At Mareks, prices are approximately 30-35% less than Italian makers, a big selling point for emerging leather countries. Niger, for example, has ordered drums and customers tan hides as diverse as crocodile or ostrich. These fledgling markets produce small quantities of leather and don’t run to the expense of complex automated systems. A simple, uncomplicated program and small screens connected to the main computer suffice.

Mareks have designed an excellent web site and a paid placement on one of the major search engines routinely turns up fresh contacts and orders for them.