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Five questions for Ercan Korhan, Mr. Shoe Care GmbH

This section presents a person who gets things moving at Zurich Airport. Today we talk to Ercan Korhan, who owns Mr. Shoe Care GmbH in the Airside Center.

You have worked at Zurich Airport for 19 years and are the successful owner of Mr. Shoe Care GmbH. What is the secret of your success?
It’s probably my experience and my motto, which is "Be the best at what you do, or don’t do it at all." Quality is my aim, and I achieve that by working at it constantly. I work with my own products. I make them myself. And before I began to shine shoes, I spent 20 years as a shoemaker for the Swiss shoe manufacturer Bally. That’s an enormous advantage. I’m familiar with all kinds of leather and know how to treat them. And when I hear from passengers that they travel via Zurich especially because of me, I know I’m on the right track.

What is a "normal" workday for you?
I’m at my station at 5:30 a.m. and ready for my first customers. Passengers are in the airport early, because the first flights depart just after 6:00 a.m. There are always lots of customers in the morning; businesspeople in particular use my service. At 7:00 a.m., things slow down for half an hour, then there’s another hour of peak traffic and then another half-hour when things are calmer. It’s like that all day long until 8:00 p.m. in the evening.

How did you decide to offer your services at the airport?
After Bally was sold to a foreign buyer, I had to change direction professionally. The job of shining shoes is very well known where I come from, which is Turkey, so I hit on the idea of offering the service here in Switzerland, too. I did a lot of research and Zurich Airport turned out to be the perfect location, because a lot of passengers here check in at least an hour before departure, and that gives them enough time to have me shine their shoes. And Zurich Airport is a wonderful workplace – the atmosphere here is unique.

How tempted are you to board a plane and travel somewhere yourself?
That’s a good question, but while I’m working I never think about flying anywhere else. Of course I have flown many times, to Madrid or Barcelona, for example. I’ve been to many places. But in recent years I’m especially drawn back home, to Turkey.

What has been your personal highlight during your time at the airport?
I’ve seen a lot of things, but one experience is a very special memory. It happened during my third week here at Zurich Airport. I was sitting at my station one morning, taking care of a customer. I looked around and it seemed suspiciously quiet for this time of day. The corridors were all empty and there were no passengers anywhere. Suddenly, a whole group of police officers and bodyguards came my way, and then I saw him: Michael Jackson. He came closer and walked past me at a distance of less than a metre, and I looked up and said, "Hi, Michael", and he looked down at me and answered, "Hi, man". I’ve met a lot of famous people here at the airport, but Michael Jackson was a genuine highlight.

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