Alisan Logistics

Damla Alisan: Taking on the family business with a sustainable vision

Alisan Logistics won WEConnect International’s 2022 Rise to the Challenge Transportation and Logistics Award sponsored by UPS.

Although Damla Alisan has big goals to become the market leader in her competitive industry, she also remembers that as a business owner, she has responsibilities to both society and the environment.

Damla is the CEO of Alisan Logistics, one of the most prominent logistics service providers in Turkey. As a leader in the consumer goods and chemical materials logistics industries, Alisan Logistics brings high value services like international and domestic trade, warehousing, and transportation for its customers. Its clients extend across the chemical, agrochemical, food and fast-moving consumer goods industries.

Alisan Logistics was founded by Damla’s father in 1985 in Istanbul. In 2010, he passed the torch on to his two daughters, Damla and Yonca.  When Damla first joined the family business—then primarily international transport firm—in 1996, she faced challenges gaining the staff’s acceptance and forging her own path within the company. As she began to help the business evolve into a domestic logistics company, her sister joined the company in 2003 helping Damla pursue a strong, respected path.

Today, Damla is responsible for all commercial operations while Yonca heads the supporting departments, including finance, human resources and administrative works. The clear split of responsibilities helps the sisters maximize their individual strengths, “My sister and I are proudly representing the company and have a great sense of duty,” says Damla. “We believe in the ability of women to accomplish their goals, and we are committed to taking Alisan Logistics to its next phase of growth and extension: a company with a stronger corporate structure that is more digital, more global, and more responsible.”

For example, Damla’s leadership has set Alisan Logistics apart by prioritizing humanitarian and environmental awareness and building sustainability into its services. As such, Alisan Logistics now utilizes pioneering methods for the disposal of hazardous products without environmental damage—methods Damla’s team developed as part of their commitment to provide agile, innovative and integrated solutions for the global marketplace.

In 2005, Alisan Logistics opened Turkey’s first “European Community Compliant” tank cleaning terminal in which containers that held chemical products are sanitized without any adverse environmental impact. This new development replaced the old inefficient system where producers either cleaned their own tanks or outsourced to other stations—with both options not performing at optimal levels and generating environmental hazards.

And Damla’s initiatives are working for more than just the environment. Today, her company maintains 550 vehicles with more than 1500 employees working in more than 50 locations across Turkey. She is proud that Alisan Logistics has been listed on the Turkey Fortune 500 list for the past eight years. “In the next five to 10 years, I dream of expanding our business globally and prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the business.”

As a woman in an industry that is 95% male-dominated, Damla realizes that it is important to support other women in business. She makes sure that Alisan Logistics runs social responsibility projects that focus on expanding women and girls’ education. In 2008, Damla’s team sponsored the construction of Ayse Sidika Alisan Primary School in Gebze to provide greater education opportunities. In 2020, Alisan Logistics also launched the “Alisan carries happiness” project to support education in rural, remote Eastern provinces of the country.

Yet it is also important for Damla to be supported herself as a woman business owner. One of Alisan Logistics’ global customers and WEConnect International member buyer, Dow Europe, recommended that she join the international network. Only certified in 2020, Damla hasn’t been able to take full advantage of the networking events due to the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as restrictions have eased globally, she has been able to seek out new customers within the network, specifically Barilla Turkey. “We are a proud new member and building our relationships one step at a time,” says Damla.

Over the past three decades, Damla has proven to be an environmentally friendly trailblazer, shaping Alisan Logistics into a new, modern extension of its historic roots. Her advice to other women business owners: “Be ready for very hard work. Tear down the barriers around you and your fellow working-class women,” she advises new entrepreneurs. “Be strong and never give up on your dream for a better tomorrow.”