In today’s article, I will introduce someone from Anatolia. Nuri Demirbağ was born in 1886 in the town of Sivas. Mühürzade Nuri was one of the most famous businessmen of Turkish history. He was the son of Mühürzade Ömer Bey and came from the gentry of Divriği Town. He was known as Mühürzade Nuri until he got his last name “Demirağ” from Atatürk.
Mühürzade Nuri, who started his business career as a teacher in the Junior High School he had studied in, worked as a bank clerk in Kangal and Koçgiri branches after passing the examination in Ziraat Bank.
Mühürzade Nuri, also known as Nuri Bey, also passed the examination organized by the Ministry of Finance. He ended up working at various levels of the Ministry and would later become an inspector for the Ministry. The obvious next step was the entrepreneurship.
He established a business with 256 Turkish Liras (56 golds), which he had accumulated throughout his whole civil service life. In 1922 he began a cigarette paper business. “Turkish Victory” branded cigarette papers became highly appreciated amongst people and his business became very lucrative. In only three years, the starting 256 Liras, his life savings, turned into 84 thousand Liras.
But Nuri Bey did not stop there. With the 84 thousand Liras he next became involved in the construction business. He began as a railway contractor, and this business would later be the origin of his surname. He established more than 1000 kilometres of railway in Turkey. In other words, he was one of the most influential owners to weave Turkey together using a network of railways.
However, Nuri Bey’s ambition stretched further than that. Not content with the railway business, he also engaged in building construction businesses. He built Sümerbank Merinos Factory in Bursa, an iron and steel factory in Karabük, the SEKA Factory in İzmit, a cement factory in Sivas and a market building in İstanbul which currently serves as the Kadıköy City Theatre.
In 1936, he also began dabbling into the aviation industry. He founded an aircraft factory in Beşiktaş next to the Barbaros wharf. He bought Elmas Paşa Farm, which happens to be the heart of today’s Atatürk Airport, and built a flat area for aircrafts to land which spread out in all directions by 1000 metres.
He produced many warplanes and gliders. He also produced a Turkish passenger plane with a range of 1,000 kilometers and a speed of 325 kilometers per hour. His business began to deteriorate when the Turkish Aeronautical Association called off the aircraft orders. But, undeterred by his failure, Nuri Bey’s next stop was getting involved in politics. He established the National Development Party that had the slogan “Enough anymore!”, very similar to the one of the Democratic Party: “Enough! It’s the public’s turn to speak!” and became the party’s leader.
Despite the fact that the party soon failed and fell out of existence, Nuri Bey became an independent candidate for the Democratic Party in the Sivas region. He entered parliament in 1954, three years before his death.
When he died in 1957, he was among the most influential personalities in business and started up many industries, such as the mass-produced Turkish plane, the first domestic parachute, the first opposition party and the first Turkish cigarette paper production.