Karen Cohen Khazon is the CEO and chairperson of Turpaz Industries, a company that develops, produces, and markets flavor and fragrance compounds.
In May 2021, Turpaz launched an IPO and listed on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange; the company raised NIS 208 million with a valuation of NIS 883 million.
Since then the company’s value has risen significantly, and is currently valued at NIS 2.5 billion, and will soon enter the TA90 index. Turpaz has acquired 12 companies around the globe in less than four years.
Your area of expertise is often taken for granted I’m sure; people don’t usually think about fragrance or flavor on a day-to-day basis. How do you explain your field of work to people?
“Flavor and fragrance is an amazing industry, because even if you don’t think about it, [it’s everywhere around you]: your bedsheets, your clothes, your toothpaste; when you come home from work you light some candles, that’s all fragrance. When you wake up in the morning and you drink coffee, tea, juice - all of them contain natural or synthetic flavors. All of them.”
You guys are really in everything; what does the development process look like for you? How do you develop and sell a smell?
“First you need to understand the needs of your customer. He could say 'red fruit flavor,' but he meant cherry, or strawberry; maybe he wanted it with a twist, or without - you first need to sit with your customer and understand what his wishes are, and the final product. Each different kind of product needs a different development.
“It’s not like selling a t-shirt, or food in the market. It’s a tailor-made product that you’ve built for your customer. You get a brief from your client, what emotion they want to create, because fragrance comes with emotion. It brings you to a place where you want to be, or it reminds you of your parents, or your childhood, or your bed - all the good things that you love.”
What kind of knowledge and skills do you need in order to be an effective flavor and fragrance engineer?
“You need to be able to appreciate [smell and taste], and you need to be able to learn. I’ve been working in this industry for 29 years, I’ve worked with many raw materials and chemicals, and supplied to companies all over the world. I know the industry inside out, and I know the beauty of the work. It’s between art and science. It’s so passionate and creative; it’s a beautiful industry.”
What are some of the most interesting products you’ve developed?
“Many years ago, Turpaz developed a technology for police and army units; say you’re running after a terrorist - they wanted to make sure they could identify the right target [after searching for him], so we developed a smell technology which you spray on someone. It catches into their clothes, and now they contain the smell. After that, the special unit can go anywhere and recognize the smell.”
So, for example, SEAL Team 6 walks through a village and they smell lavender and juniper berries, and they’re like “oh, that’s our guy”?
You seem like the perfect person to ask this: how many scented candles do you own?
“...twenty, thirty? I love candles, they give such a good atmosphere, they’re so romantic, it’s amazing.”