Businessman Remzi Ershahin became a millionaire and a local hero of Bournemouth in a short time. Kubra Yelkenci is finding out his secret.
Is he being ironic or dramatic, is the first question that flashes through my mind, when he said he was locked in an empty industrial fridge. Remzi Ershahin, 48, used to sleep in one of the big fridges in his first kebab shop in Southampton to save money. The fridge was switched off. However, he jeopardised his life not to drive back home everyday. He put a stick to keep the door open but when he was sleeping the stick lost its balance and fell down leaving the door shut. The door was locked because of suction.
“I thought it was the end of my life. Then I remembered that there was a drain pipe in the fridge. It could balance the air pressure to get rid of suction. I hardly reached to the handle to open it. My finger was bleeding. Finally I managed to loosen it and the air went out then the door was opened.”
It is a long journey from Turkey to Bournemouth, from a fridge in a kebab shop to a mansion in Florida. He was a young Turkish brave man arrived in Bournemouth as a student in October 1977. Remzi was the eldest one of three sons in the family. His father owned a building company and he wanted him to be a civil engineer to help him to build new premises. However, Remzi always wanted to study political science or law. His dream was to be “a warrior who fights for rights.” He was not able to be a lawyer but his brave heart led him to be a warrior all through his life.
He was a well known, popular boy at college. He became a local hero that anyone applied for his help. He used to fight with trouble makers on the street, rescue his friends. “I was a stout hearted man that I did not know anything such fear. If someone bet me jump from a hill I would definitely jump in those years!” He has been into trouble too many times. He has been arrested. Whenever Turkish people who lived in Bournemouth committed a crime the police have seen him as the ringleader of Turks.
Remzi Ershahin was a flirtatious man until (and even carried on after) met his wife Joanne at the age of 21. Two years later he finished college and decided to go back to Turkey for holiday with his girl friend Joanne. Their plan was staying in Turkey permanently after this holiday. But for some reason Remzi changed his mind and decided to stay in Bournemouth and got married to Joanne. His father told him “You are not my son anymore” because of his sudden, rebel decision of staying in the UK and getting married to his girl friend. Therefore, his business adventure started in Bournemouth without his father`s financial support any more.
There were two kebab shops in Bournemouth and they`ve been doing very profitable business. Remzi bought a kebab shop in Southampton. He got this shop done up and opened it under the name of “Istanbul Kebab House”. After that, Remzi bought twelve other kebab shops in the south of England. Remzi worked very hard and the more he made money, the more he invested and finally founded his first catering company called Falcon in 1998.
His sister-in-law Zeynep Ershahin, was his brother’s girl friend in 1989. She wanted to go to England as an au-pair but her boyfriend did not want her to be an au-pair. Remzi Ershahin accepted her as a guest in his house for one year. She says, “Who on earth accepts some one as a guest in his house for one year? When I was staying with them, I and my boyfriend Mesud had very bad argument and I went upstairs to pack my suitcase. Remzi came to me and told me that “you are not staying here as a girl friend of my brother, you are my sister until you die, I promised your family and my house is yours forever...”
Remzi had a by-pass open heart surgery in 2002 and decided to leave England. He bought a brilliant mansion and set up a small business and is planning to move to Florida with his family next summer. He was proud of his success and well-deserved wealth. He says simply: “My biggest lesson in business life was to be able to understand different type of people and to deal with them” as he was showing me his father`s last letter of advice saying “be honest and work hard my son”.