Monday, May 20, 2019
Industry & Trade | Asia-Pacific | Japan

Japan Inc.

Forging success

1 year ago

Koichi Sakaguchi, President of Ohmi Press Works and Forging
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Koichi Sakaguchi

President of Ohmi Press Works and Forging

An interview with Koichi Sakaguchi, President of forging company Ohmi Press Works and Forging.


In your opinion, what advantages does Japan have over the rising competition from China and Korea?

There is one thing about today’s world that worries me. For example, a sword (katana in Japanese) is basically a piece of art and when time goes on, after 30-40 years, nobody is really concerned by the increase in price because it is considered as a piece of art. However, in my eyes, the products that we manufacture are also pieces of art but are not recognized as such. This is one thing that I am very concerned about, and therefore my goal is to have the facilities that allow us to manufacture such high value parts. We have various kinds of machinery and factories combined with 30-40 years of experience of manufacturing the same product and this is the reason why when people see our products, they realize our manufacturing experience.


China has 39% of the global market share in the forging sector.  In your eyes, what does Japan have that China doesn’t? What are Japan’s competitive advantages and what makes Japan special?

I think about that every single day! First of all, as you mentioned, it is clear that China and Korea have a very large presence in this market. However, there is no doubt that Japan has a higher quality of steel and other materials than any of its competitors. In addition, it is not only about materials but it is also about the facilities and the factories we have here in Japan. The production as a whole is simply better in Japan. Secondly, Japan is experiencing the decrease of its labour forces but we can also say that the USA is experiencing something similar. However, we can offset the decrease because Japan has a good reputation and a good image thanks to its quality. That is my belief. Japan can not compete in terms of price, or even quantity, but without a doubt, Japan has the advantage of the quality. Finally, there are so many companies here in Japan that are specialized in one area and have many years of experience. For me, these are the main advantages of the Japanese forging sector compared to the competition.


For Ohmi Press Works, which market has the highest growth potential?

Because our parts are made in different locations, I don’t really think that we should focus on specific markets. In today’s world, American companies that are in the same business as us manufacture some of their machinery in Europe. What I mean by this is that in our world, there is so much interconnectivity, so we should look at the world as a whole.


Your parts are used in the Shinkansen or ships. Are you very proud that those parts are used in the Shinkansen?

I am proud because 60% of the bearings of the Shinkansen are made by our company, meaning that everybody uses our products in average once when using the Shinkansen twice.


We can say that you are a hidden maker as people do not realize that without your parts, the Shinkansen would not be able to operate. Would you like to have more recognition from the public?

No, not at all. If we look at famous companies like Toyota or Mitsubishi, we actively support our customers. These companies use our parts. However, to be able to see these products, you must take the machine apart, to find out where are products are used.


Japan along with the rest of the world is continuously changing. Have you see an evolution in your client portfolio? Have you gotten used to these changes, have you adapted your portfolio to the ever changing requirements of the market?

It is clear that we have seen an evolution in terms of clients. They become more demanding concerning price and quality. The demands of customers is always changing.

If we talk about IT, we do not have new customers. It is the same for architecture as well, buildings have evolved drastically along the years. As a whole, there are some changes, but these changes depend on the specific industry which we are dealing with.


You have a have an office in Los Angeles but you do not have a plant in America. So I am wondering how expensive these roll rings are to export? What is the purpose of your office in America?

Basically, we have an office in America because of our history tradition. We just want to have a physical presence there. But it is also important in order to conduct research and to keep in touch with oil drilling companies in America (California, Texas, Louisiana). We have never thought about closing this office in Los Angeles.


The forging industry’s combined annual growth rate is 7.9% with main drivers being the growing interconnectivity of countries, the expanding aerospace industry and many others. What do you foresee about the future of this industry?

The automobile industry doesn’t really affect my company. However, it is certain that it will affect the forging industry as a whole. We have to consider the general economy of countries too because it has a very large affect on the shipping industry. A booming economy entails people building their nation meaning the construction segment improves as a whole. In order to be ready to adapt to such rapid changes, we work hard to improve our facilities and production systems.


Your father started this company and you have seen the company evolve and grow, how would you like to see your company in ten or fifteen years. What strategic objectives do you hope to achieve in that period of time?

When I think about the past ten years, many things have happened. To answer your question, we are continuously trying to make our company more stable. The stability of our company is our main concern. In ten years’ time, we hope to have facilities and innovations which match with the new trends of our ever evolving world. New machines will be made and I do not want to be passive. I went to pay attention to those future new trends and I would like to be at the forefront of new innovations and to the demands of our customers in order to never not miss a golden opportunity.





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