Exclusive Interview with Dilek Gonulay from Nokta Makro

Exclusive Interview with Dilek Gonulay from Nokta Makro

As you probably know, the Simplex metal detector has received the Most Popular Metal Detector of 2020 award by Detect History. All readers and metal detectorists who had voted for this metal detector eventually seemed to have expressed the opinion of the global community, because, according to Dilek Gonulay, Simplex+ became one of the most sold products in the niche, on the global scale! So, we congratulate Nokta Makro with this victory.

Dilek Gonulay, the Director of Sales and Marketing department at Nokta Makro, was very kind to keep in touch with Detect History since our visit to the Nokta Makro’s office last year, and upon receiving the award, she managed to find time to talk about year 2020, about the fate of Nokta Makro’s products, about future products and plans, and more.

What’s In The Interview

  • How would Nokta Makro estimate the year 2020, what challenges were faced and what solutions were taken?
  • How did Nokta Makro manage to make 2020 one of the best years for the company so far?
  • Why did Nokta Makro established Quall, its sister company, and would Quall impact the priorities of Nokta Makro in any way?
  • Why does Nokta Makro seek to become the top leader in the metal detectors accessories niche?
  • Is Dilek happy with how Simplex+ is being sold?
  • Should we expect any other massive software updates for Simplex+ in 2021?
  • Was the experiment successful with SP22 and SP24 search coils?
  • Should we expect new metal detectors by Nokta Makro in 2021?
  • Will the Kruzer series be updated, or totally replaced, by another new lineage in the same segment, anytime soon?
  • Will Nokta Makro release a new Pulse Induction machine in 2021?
  • What are Dilek’s ideas on the future of the metal detecting niche?
  • What is Dilek’s most important promise to all Nokta Makro users and detectorists?
  • Why does Dilek believe that metal detecting hobby should be developed further?

(If you only have limited time for checking out only the most important points, you can scroll down to read the synopsis. However, keep in mind that you’re risking to miss out all the curious details, because Dilek, as always, was super honest and open about Nokta Makro plans and stuff)

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Okay, so the first question is about you. Could you please tell a few words about yourself, about your role in the company? Because our regular readers already know you, but new readers probably do not.

Sure! My name is Dilek, I am the Director of Sales and Marketing at Nokta Makro. I am actually approaching my 12th year at the company. As you can understand from my title, I manage the Sales department as well as Marketing. But of course, I work a lot with other departments, too. I am one of the key staff at the company, because I am in constant communication with many end users and with the decision makers in the industry and I take all this feedback to the engineering department. So I actually have a lot of input in the new products that are to be developed. This is who I am in short.

Great, thank you! Now, let’s talk about the previous year. How would you estimate the previous year for the company, when the whole world had to face a pandemic? And it was a huge challenge for all of us, for sure. Were there any difficulties that Nokta Makro had to face and what solutions have been taken?

To be honest with you, 2020 has been our best year so far, despite the Corona. I think, in a way, Corona helped boost sales for the metal detecting industry. And the reason for that is that everybody had to isolate, people could not come together. So people had to stay at home and started looking into what they can do on their own as a hobby or out in nature, away from the crowds. And I think it’s not only about metal detectors, in general in the whole world, anything to do with outdoors had a boost. But of course, Corona also brought some unique challenges, especially in terms of supply chain and logistics not only in Europe but in the whole world. We never actually had any issues with our supplies. One reason for that is we always keep a good level of stock. What was difficult to deal with was the increasing transportation costs. All of a sudden, the transportation costs literally tripled. But at our factory, we never closed, not even for a day during the pandemic.

Wow, that’s really cool.

Yes, not even a day! We’ve been working non-stop! The only time that we had to do some reductions was when Corona first hit Turkey, during March and April. We had to send some staff home, because we are now too crowded and don’t even fit in this building anymore thanks to our growth. So we had to send a certain portion of the production workers home, for two months but the rest of us including me have been at work. Even on the days when there was a whole lockdown in the country, we actually got permit from the government and continued to work. We are a company that manufactures and exports goods, and as we all know, production is very important for a country’s economy. If production and exports stop, then you can be in real trouble.

As far as I know, you have the top positions in the country by developing the products… you have special permits from the government.

Not the top position, but we are a government-certified Research and Development Center, yes. And the biggest portion of our revenue comes from exports, not from domestic sales. The government always encourages production, and especially the exporters, to continue, so the economy doesn’t take a big hit. So we’ve been working. And the only other problem we had was that some of the engineers also stayed at home during the Corona days which in return affected the planning for the new projects. But in a few months, everybody was back at work, and we were working full staff again. So yeah, despite the Corona, 2020 was the best year for us.

Great. I’m really happy to hear that. My next question is about Quall, the sister company that you opened last year. The last product was a non-contact QuallThermo thermometer. This is a serious step forward and for the whole world. It’s very important to us for today. But talking about Nokta Makro, can this new company influence Nokta Makro priorities? Should we be worried about this main direction?

Not at all. Basically, there were two reasons why we established Quall. Number one, of course, was the Corona. We felt like we had to do something, as a technology producing company. We saw it as a social responsibility. For example, in Turkey, I don’t really think there is another local medical device manufacturer here. Thermometers, I think, are all imports from China, or from Europe. But as a certified Research and Development Center, I believe making a thermometer is easier than making a metal detector that has to work under so many different conditions. So we felt, as a technology and electronics manufacturer, we had to do something for our country, and for the whole humanity. We said, okay, let’s now go into another industry, still electronics, but not detectors. So we decided to establish Quall. And we started with a thermometer. But there is also other medical equipment in the pipeline. We have actually hired many engineers already for Quall, they’re working on different projects, but we don’t rush for other departments, because engineering is the first thing that we need to take care of. They have to first develop the products, only then you really need other departments. And the second reason is that we love metal detectors, we love the industry. But the metal detecting industry is a niche market, it is small. And believe it or not, we all in Nokta Makro are workaholics… So, we want to do more, we want to reach out to more people in the world. But the customer base for metal detectors is limited. We want to reach out not to certain groups of people, we want to reach out to everybody. And I think when you talk about medical products and consumer electronics – I think we’re also going to do consumer electronics in the future – then the whole world becomes your audience. These were the two reasons behind Quall. But let me underline this specifically – Nokta Makro Detectors is our core business, and it’s going to stay that way. Even the engineering teams are totally separate. For Quall, engineers are not even here at the factory. They’re in a different location, working on their projects, doing their tests. So it’s two separate engineering teams. Our customers should not think “Oh, now they’re working on other products!” or “Their projects are going to be delayed!” No, none of that is gonna happen, Metal Detectors is really our baby, it’s what made us who we are. So that’s always gonna stay as our core business.

Okay, thank you! The next question is about the new office, about the new building. How is the preparation going? When do you plan to move?

The reason why we bought a new building is simply due to the fact we don’t fit here anymore. A year ago we were only… Trying to remember, when you came to visit, what was the number of employees I gave you?

220, something like that.

I don’t know how many exactly we are today. Probably over 250… and it is not only about the people…also the goods and the warehouse is becoming a problem. If you walk into our building today, like you did last year, the first thing you see is shipments everywhere, because we can’t find a place to put them anymore. So our owner made a very nice investment for the business, and bought a factory in a very prestigious industrial park in Istanbul. Right now we hired an architectural design firm, and they are designing the interior according to our needs. Actually, we just had a presentation where they presented the design draft. It looks pretty cool. Now they’re gonna start working on the actual detailed drawings. It’s gonna take a while though because they’re designing everything from scratch. I think the production and shipping will move first, before the management team. Probably, around the end of 2021 we should be able to move completely, but I cannot give you the exact timeframe.

Okay, thank you. Hopefully it will all happen as you plan. And now, let’s talk about the metal detector accessories. Last year, you released a lot of accessories, like, digger knife, sand scoop, loads of merch, find bags, backpacks for metal detectors – the range of accessories was huge. The question is, does Nokta Makro plan to take the whole niche of accessories? Or does it only do that for supporting the Nokta Makro metal detectors? Do you want to be the top brand in metal detecting accessories? Do you have this goal?

Oh, yeah, sure. The reason for that is, we always thought accessories are very important. But of course, as a younger company, you need to first focus on your core products, which are detectors. But now we have reached the level where we have a good lineup, from kids’ detectors to an entry level price detector, to more pricey, more professional devices. Now that we have a uniform lineup on the detectors, we said, now is the time, before the new detectors hit the market. Let’s spend this time developing more accessories. All detectorists need accessories, they need carry bags, finds bags, diggers, shovels, sand scoops, it is part of the hobby! And what bothers me, as a Marketing Director, is when I watch a video, and I see somebody using, say, a Nokta Makro detector, and then they start pulling out their diggers and bags, and they’re my competitors’ products…

Much worse when these are Chinese products…

Don’t get me wrong though. Of course, they can choose a competitor product. But I should at least give them the option! If they like the other product, I would just respect that. But let’s say a Nokta Makro user wants a finds bag, and Nokta Makro doesn’t have one! So they have to buy the X brand. Let me offer our brand to the customers first, and then they can choose my brand or another brand, that’s not a problem. For Nokta Makro, sales are very important, but more than the numbers, what’s important for us is brand awareness. And I think accessories play a big role in that, so yes, we released some accessories last year. In addition, we just released a brand new stainless steel shovel, a three in one sand scoop- stainless steel, a backpack, and a pinpoint leg holster. We have released many new accessories within a short period of time, and none of them are made in China! Not that there’s anything wrong with made in China products. China is a place where you can find everything – bad quality, good quality, very good quality – everything. I wanted to mention this because this is one question that I always get, are the products made in China? No, they’re not. They’re all made in Turkey.

Yeah, I can prove it. I know that, because I was in the manufacturing area. I saw how it was made.

For example, the new shovel. We don’t make shovels here at the factory, of course. But we design it, we pick the material, and then we get them made working with our business partners and suppliers.

The shovel looks very, very nice. But that was just a warm-up! Now, let’s move to the metal detectors, the most interesting part of our discussion. How do you evaluate the year 2020 for Simplex? Are you happy about how the sales were going?

Ah, Simplex. I don’t know how many people took your survey for choosing the metal detector for the award (Michael’s comment: over 5.000 people took part in the survey), but that represents the majority of the world, seriously. I think Simplex has been the most popular product in many countries in 2020. And to be honest with you, I was expecting that. I’m just very happy with the result, but I’m not surprised. Because when we first came out with the commercial of the Simplex, and said it was unrivaled, we meant it, this wasn’t just a marketing line! We knew that it was really going to change a lot of things in the metal detecting industry, because we were giving the best value for the customer at that price point. And up until today, Simplex is still the best value if you look at what you’re getting, versus its price. So yeah, Simplex has been our hero for 2020.

Dilek Gonulay from Nokta Makro with Detect History award

By the end of 2020, Nokta Makro Simplex has been awarded by Detect History as the “Most Popular Metal Detector of the Year”.

I have a question about the Simplex updates. Nokta Makro has released numerous updates last year. Some of them were welcomed, other updates left certain questions. But now we will talk about only one update, about the massive 2.76 update, when Simplex was added a lot of new features. Should we expect the similar massive Simplex update for 2021?

No, I will be honest with you, no. Because, if you look at the updates that my competitors are giving, they’re more small features, fixing some bugs, whatever. But nothing compares to what we did with the Simplex – we added a new mode, and so many new features to it that many customers told us that it became a different machine. We’re not planning to give another massive update like that for the Simplex, because anything that we’re going to do to Simplex after this point will change the whole idea behind Simplex. Simplex has to stay simple! Otherwise, even the name will not make any sense. Simplex should stay simple for the beginners. If we start adding more settings, more this, more that, it’s going to be a different machine, and I won’t be able to attract those customers who want a simple machine. So, no major update for Simplex. We have other plans for Simplex. But I cannot really give too many details on that at this point.

Yeah, I see. Thank you for being very honest with us, with the readers, with your customers. This is really great. Not many top managers are so honest as you are. Thank you for the reply.

We don’t want to be misleading our end users or your readers. I cannot share everything of course. Certain things have to stay confidential, but I just try my best to share as much as possible.

Being honest, and being a great company is enough, I think. So the next question is about the new SP22 and SP24 coils! Was the experiment successful? Are you happy with how they were received by the community?

The two optional coils for the Simplex, yes. SP24 – just to let you know – has outsold all our other optional coils so far! So we’re very happy. And yes, SP22 is selling good, as well. Not as good as the SP 24, but that’s understandable… because SP24 is targeting those customers who are searching in parks, in trashy areas who need a smaller and a narrower elliptical coil. So yeah, we’re very happy.

Yeah, these are really great coils. And now, let’s talk about the rumors. Last year, you told in the interview for Detect History that the company needs about one or two years to develop a new metal detector. In 2020, except MINI and MIDI Hoards metal detectors, Nokta Makro hadn’t released any new detectors. Should we expect a new machine in 2021?

Yes, yes. If everything goes as expected and planned, yes.

And even more than one probably?

YES!

I just share my own impression with you. I paid attention that just before the New Year, many dealers had impressive sales for the Kruzer series metal detectors. And I believe that we will see a new metal detector, or detectors, instead of this series, this year?

Okay, not instead but in addition…a simultaneous multifrequency… We’re planning to release it this year. I don’t know when exactly, it’s still in development. I mentioned this already on different podcasts, it’s gonna be in the Simplex housing. Some people misunderstood this, they thought that it was a different Simplex, or a simultaneous multi frequency Simplex. No, it’s not a simultaneous multi frequency Simplex, because it’s not a Simplex. It’s a whole different machine, but it’s just gonna be in that design. And the reason is that many of our customers love the fact that Simplex is very sturdy, robust, compact, it collapses down to a very small size. They simply love the design. So why create a different design that people may not like as much? We can keep the housing the same, and put the new simultaneous multi frequency inside, and that’s what we’re doing. But it’s going to be a different machine with a different name, with different settings, everything.

Actually, how similar is it to Simplex?

The upper shaft will be a little different. The control box is the same outside but inside and the functions of the buttons – all will be different.

Now, I’m actually working on the design of the logo of the name of the device. Everybody’s been asking if we picked the name – yes, we did pick the name. We had run a naming competition for this device…Once the product is released, whoever suggested the name we picked, we’ll deliver the machine free to them from Nokta Makro. But I cannot release the name, because if I release it, people may think that it’s close to launch. I don’t want to mislead people. That’s why I’m not mentioning the name.

Okay, thank you. Thank you for this insight! And the next question is about last year. A year ago, we discussed that Nokta Makro prepared a new Pulse Induction metal detector. How is it going with this machine?

Ah, that’s also in progress. I don’t know if we can release it this year or not. Probably next year.

Okay, and the last question is about the future, also, but it’s not about the products, it’s about the future of the whole niche. Would you please share your opinion about what trends will be popular in the metal detecting niche in 2021? Maybe you have some ideas?

Good question! I think this is what all manufacturers are working on! To really give customers more advanced technologies and better products, but it’s hard to answer… Of course, what a metal detector user really wants is to be able to see underground, to see the target. Is this possible today? No, we have been working on that, with our professional machines, the Nokta Makro Invenio… And we’re continuing in that path. But sometimes technology evolves very fast, other times, you hit roadblocks. I’m thinking, whether it’s gonna be Nokta Makro, or X company, the industry is going to get better and better. In the upcoming years, the metal detecting industry is gonna grow overall. I think more and more people, especially in certain countries, will get into the hobby, the younger generation are starting to get into the hobby, more females are getting into the hobby. There is no limit when you think about technology. But, like I said, it’s about giving customers what they want – to be able to identify targets, better discrimination, better depths, it’s all gonna happen. It’s just, sometimes it’s easier said than done. At Nokta Makro, I think we made a lot of progress already and we’re gonna continue.

Okay, and what are Nokta Makro’s key goals for 2021?

To take a step further to become the leader!

But you are the leader! You are in the top three brands, actually.

We’re not the biggest yet. In certain countries, our market share needs to grow. We’re one of the leading brands now, that’s for sure. But our goal is to sit at the very top. I think 2021 will be another key year for us in terms of getting closer to achieving that goal.

I want to wish you lots of luck! Finally, would you like to tell anything to Nokta Makro fans and to all Detect History readers?

Oh, yeah. First, I want to thank every single one of them. Every single Nokta Makro user, even if they’re using just an accessory of Nokta Makro… I’m gonna repeat this with every interview – we owe where we are to our end users. Our dealers, distributors, they’re very important, because they are our customers, too. But I think everything starts with the end user. And we want to thank them for supporting us, for taking us to the top, especially in 2020. And this was one of my promises to our end users last year, and I want to repeat this. We have grown very much, and we’re still growing, and we’re gonna continue to grow. But one promise that I want to give them, as the Director of this company is, no matter how big we get, we’ll always stay small in front of our customers. And we’re always gonna stay reachable, approachable, honest, friendly. We’re not gonna lose our values, that made us who we are today. That’s the promise that I want to give to all detectorists and history seekers. I’m, for example, going to turn 50, I’m from that generation when there was no technology, and we are the generation who made this transition, from no technology to, all of a sudden, super technology. Technology is good and we’re a technology producing company. But at the same time, there is that past that we don’t want to forget. And I think we don’t wanna lose that touch with history. Because if you look at what’s happening in the world, and how fast things are changing, you get a little bit concerned, for the next generations… I’m a mother myself. And I think the best thing we can do for our kids, and for the next generations, is not to lose touch with history. And metal detecting is one way of doing that. I want to tell them all to keep this hobby alive, and pass it on to the generations.

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The Most Important Points

If you have read the whole interview, you now probably know more than many other detectorists, since Dilek was very kind to share Nokta Makro’s plans, vision, stories about 2020, and so on. But if you are limited in time, and want to know only the most important points taken from the interview, well, here you go!

  • Despite the Corona, 2020 was one of the most successful years for Nokta Makro so far, due to the fact that Simplex+ was enjoying huge sales, and because people started looking for outdoors hobbies that would take them away from the crowd. So metal detecting as such got a boost in 2020, and so did Nokta Makro’s sales.
  • The main difficulties that Nokta Makro had to face in 2020 were logistics and transportation. Since the company is a government-certified Research and Development Center that works mostly with exports, they continued working the whole year, with some restrictions. Another difficulty was that planning of new products had to be delayed since many members of staff had to stay at home according to the governmental anti-Corona policies. But overall, Nokta Makro continued working full time almost the whole year.
  • Nokta Makro’s sister company, Quall, was established for two reasons. The first reason is Nokta Makro’s ability and desire to contribute to prevention of Corona spreading, as an electronic-making company. The second reason was the company’s desire to reach out to more people, which is easier to do with medical and customer electronics, because the metal detecting niche is limited.
  • Despite establishing Quall, Nokta Makro metal detectors remain the main and core business, and Quall does not influence Nokta Makro’s priorities. Moreover, these are two separate companies with separate factories and separate engineering teams, meaning that releasing Quall products in no way impacts or delays Nokta Makro’s products.
  • In 2021, the company plans to move to a new office, because neither the team nor the warehouse fit into the old building. The company grows and continues to hire staff.
  • Nokta Makro has a goal of taking the metal detectors accessories niche. The first reason is that the company believes accessories are very important for the hobby, and they want to provide the necessary accessories to their users. The second reason is to raise brand awareness.
  • All Nokta Makro’s products are made in Turkey, the company does not outsource manufacturing from China or from wherever else.
  • While Dilek (and the whole Nokta Makro) is very happy with results shown by Simplex+ on the market, she is not surprised, because they believe Simplex+ gives the best value possible to the user for the price it has.
  • No massive software updates are expected for Simplex+ in 2021, because the company wants to leave this metal detector simple for beginners. However, Dilek states they have other plans for Simplex+, but she could not reveal any details yet.
  • SP22 and SP24 search coils sell really well, but SP24 has outsold all other options coils ever made by Nokta Makro! This coil became an obvious hit.
  • Dilek hinted that we can expect several new metal detectors by Nokta Makro in 2021.
  • Nokta Makro plans a simultaneous multifrequency metal detector in Simplex housing. That means that the outer design will be similar to Simplex, but the functions and features will be totally different. However, we’ll have to wait for more details.
  • A new Pulse Induction metal detector is in progress by Nokta Makro, and we can expect it to be released next year.  But again, no more details are revealed for now.
  • As for the future of the metal detecting industry, Dilek believes that the technologies will go on and on improving, and regardless of who invents a new technology or makes a new breakthrough in the niche, it all will get better.
  • Nokta Makro’s key goals for 2021 is to become the top company in the niche. While they are already in the top three among metal detecting brands on the global scale, there are other steps to be taken in that direction.
  • Dilek’s biggest promise to all Nokta Makro users and to all metal detectorists is that, however big the company grows, they will always remain in touch with the end users, remain reachable, approachable, honest, and friendly, because these are the company’s values, and this is what took it where it is now.
  • Dilek’s belief about metal detecting as a hobby is that it should be further developed and passed on to the younger generations, because this is one of the ways to stay in touch with the past and with our history as humanity.

Attention! Copy and repost of this text, in full or in parts, and any photos or videos, should be referenced with a clickable link to the source Detect History (https://detecthistory.com/), or a link to this post as well.

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