Leather Crafting With a Telepresence Robot

by | Jun 15, 2023 | Case Studies, Content, Telepresence

With the help of a telepresence robot, a leather goods company is able to fully operate in Turkey while their CEO is located in Dallas, Texas.

When browsing the Pegai website, you’ll see a fine selection of quality leather products. For over seven years now, Pegai has manufactured this merchandise at their factory located in Turkey — but their CEO and visionary leader, Volkan Yilmaz, is based out of Dallas, Texas. While distance would normally lay a large hindrance on the workflow, Yilmaz has started using an Ohmni telepresence robot to remain present and active on the factory floor, facilitating a work culture where his business continues growing and thriving despite the immense distance.

A Familial Foundation in Leather Tanning

Yilmaz was born into the leather industry, with his family owning a leather tannery in his home country of Turkey. There, he worked with his father designing and manufacturing leather products up until 2009, when he won a green card lottery and moved to the United States.
Picture of Volkan Yilmaz, CEO of Pegai
Upon arriving, he worked a variety of odd jobs (including a stint as a cab driver) before deciding to jump back into the leather business. Of course, his father had retired since he’d left Turkey, so Yilmaz joined forces with his brother and opened up their own leather crafting workshop, which they named “Pegai” after the city where they were born and raised. Of course, managing a business in Turkey when you’re located in the United States can be a challenge. So to help him solve this problem and have a more hands-on approach to the company from afar, Yilmaz set out to find a solution that would allow him to still make appearances in the workshop without always having to take an 11-hour flight. While he wasn’t initially familiar with telepresence, he figured that, surely, someone had created a sort of Zoom-on-wheels that could be used for this purpose. “I would have created this myself if I was in tech,” Yilmaz says. His search led him to OhmniLabs and our telepresence robot, which he purchased and set up on the factory floor in Turkey.
Volkan Yilmaz cutting leather for blog post about using a telepresence robot

Leather Crafting With a Telepresence Robot

While the team was, at first, somewhat confused about this tablet that was now rolling around the offices and factory, the telepresence robot soon became a welcomed addition to the Pegai team. One of the major benefits that Yilmaz notes is that, unlike a traditional Zoom call, using an Ohmni telepresence robot doesn’t require a scheduled time to use. “You can drop in whenever you want,” he says, allowing for impromptu check-ins on the crafting floor to see what the team is working on and examine different color variants in the leather. This sense of spontaneity also creates a feeling of closeness and a warmer connection with the employees — a touch of camaraderie that’s hard to achieve when you only get to visit once or twice each year.
“Ohmni telepresence robot is the quickest and most affordable way I can be in the office in Turkey without ever leaving my office in Dallas.” – Volkan Yilmaz, CEO of Pegai
Also differing from a traditional Zoom call, the mobility of Ohmni telepresence is a huge benefit. The Pegai factory is a long, rectangular building with multiple floors of 5,000 square feet, and being able to move from room to room on his own accord means that Yilmaz can check in on multiple departments and different co-workers all in a single session. Of particular note, Yilmaz has found a strong use for the screen sharing feature on the Ohmni telepresence robot. Being able to pull up training videos and other materials to view with team members in real-time helps make sure everyone stays on the same page.

Telepresence Robot Beyond the Office

While Pegai and their products are Yilmaz’s top priority, he’s found other uses for the telepresence robot. In 2022, he was invited to be a speaker at a conference in another part of Turkey. Of course, being located in the United States naturally would have made that hard to accomplish. But his team took the robot to the conference and Yilmaz was able to virtually deliver his remarks on stage from afar.
Volkan Yilmaz uses a telepresence robot to deliver remarks at a conference.
Yilmaz’s work in leather has also expanded to social media. In fact, while Volkan may be his real name, you may be more familiar with his online persona — Tanner Leatherstein. As part of his mission to demystify the leather industry, Tanner frequently posts videos where he literally dissects and destroys pricey purses, wallets, and other fashion items from high-end leather brands. The goal is to show how these pieces are not all that dissimilar from the items he produces. “Leather is expensive. But not that expensive.” The work of Tanner Leatherstein has attracted a sizable audience, with nearly a million followers on TikTok

Conclusion

While the company is a namesake of the city where Yilmaz is from, it’s also the plural variation of Pegasus, the mythical winged horse. Perhaps in another reality, a flying animal such as that would prove valuable for working in different locations across the globe, but for now, a telepresence robot is a prime alternative. As Tanner Leatherstein himself indicates, the mobility, the potential for spontaneity, and the warm, camaraderie-building communication are what make Ohmni telepresence fly above the competition.

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