Colcoat is in many ways the archetypal company of Japan’s Chuken Kigyo – strong, agile and technologically adept SMEs, upon whose technology many bigger companies, and indeed whole industries, depend to build their final products.
With 150 employees, Colcoat is by definition a small company but the importance of its chemical silicate, anti-static agent and optronic products across a wide range of industries cannot be understated – nor can the expertise and capacity for innovation it has developed over its more than 60-year history.
The company was established in 1956 by Mr. Yukio Noguchi, whose research into ethyl silicate led to the development of his patented anti-static coating agent, ‘Colcoat’. Today the company is a leading supplier of anti-static agent and multi-functional coating materials used in industries such as food packaging, semiconductors, functional films, electronics, assembly processes, paints, automotives and robotics.
Meanwhile the Optronics arm of the business manufactures plastic lens, light guides and transparent molded products, which are used in the manufacture of LED lights, traffic lights, sensors, magnifying equipment, LCD screens and scanners.
Between its Chemical and Optronics divisions, Colcoat currently boasts around 1,000 customers, including household names such as Panasonic, Sharp, Shin-Etsu and Toray.
Indeed, like many Japanese companies, Colcoat has faced increased pressure from regional competitors over the past few decades. The company’s response has been to invest in innovation, focus on delivering Japanese quality at reasonable costs, and leverage on its decades-old experience of tending to the high demands of Japanese customers.
“I believe what unites Japanese manufacturers is the passion towards what they produce. Japanese consumers are quite demanding and producers have adapted to always try to improve in order to satisfy these needs. We realized a long time ago that lower labor cost countries would eventually catch up to our technologies
and therefore we had to come up with several solutions,” says Noguchi-san.
“One example is to optimize our production processes to reduce costs. Another is to further develop our technology and come up with new products. In Japan we have this word ‘Kaizen’ which means improvement. At Colcoat we adapted this philosophy and strive to produce high-quality products at reasonable prices.”
In line with Japan Inc.’s internationalization strategy, Colcoat is also looking to expand its presence overseas, particularly in China, India and South East Asia.
And due to its geographical proximity and stable power supply, it established manufacturing subsidiary Colcoat Thailand in 2011. Moving forward, Noguchisan envisions the business continuing to grow globally, and always with a focus on developing original high-quality products to satisfy the ever-changing demands of customers.
“We consider ourselves as one of the hidden champions, and like to think that we support the lifestyle of our consumers from behind the scenes. In the future I would like this philosophy to continue and lead us to new horizons.”