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Professional, progressive and proactive: That’s the Proterial way

Article - December 7, 2023

Having begun 2023 with a major rebrand, the century-old supplier of high-performance materials has embarked on a new, exciting chapter with big ambitions for global growth.

“The decision to rebrand was driven by the team at Proterial. They analyzed our business, culture and future aspirations, resulting in the choice of the new name.”

Sean M. Stack, President & CEO, Proterial, Ltd.

Founded in 1910, Proterial supplies high-quality, cutting-edge materials to manufacturers in Japan and abroad, chiefly in the automobile industry.

The company also focuses on clients in industrial infrastructure – principally rolling stock and aerospace – and the electronics sector.

Previously owned by Hitachi, Proterial was known as Hitachi Metals until January this year, when it changed its name following the company’s purchase by a consortium led by the private equity firm Bain Capital.

“The name change provided a unique opportunity to rebrand the business and differentiate ourselves from Hitachi’s diverse portfolio,” explains Proterial’s president and CEO, Sean M. Stack.

“While we respect the history of the original Hitachi Metals business, the new name allowed us to focus on our core business and showcase our commitment to providing the attention, capital and resources necessary for success.

“Proterial reflects the essence of our corporate philosophy. It combines ‘pro’ with the word ‘material’. ‘Pro’ represents our ‘three pros’: professional – work that exceeds expectations; progressive – a spirit that keeps challenging; and proactive – an enterprising attitude.

“‘Material’ refers to the high-performance materials that our original technologies produce, underpinned by the ‘three pros’.”

Proterial, Mr. Stack adds, has a “more international sound” – a quality that goes hand in hand with efforts to bolster the worldwide market presence of a company that has established overseas sites in Asia, Europe and the United States.

“Historically, we have been primarily focused on the Japanese market,” he says. “However, we recognize the tremendous opportunities to expand and gain more market share with customers outside of Japan. To achieve this, we need to adopt a global mindset and become a leader on a global scale.

“This entails deploying resources strategically in different regions to cater to the needs of our Japanese customers while also penetrating new markets, such as North America and Europe.

“We possess technologically advanced products that have great potential in these markets. We need to develop a forward-thinking mindset and establish the necessary infrastructure to capitalize on these opportunities.”

Proterial has been identifying specific segments in the company’s business portfolio where there is ample room for growth, Mr. Stack continues.

“Our specialty steel business unit, which focuses on nickel-based alloys, is also an important area of focus.” he reveals, “In the business unit, we have allocated resources to become a more impactful player in the global aerospace market.”

Significantly, specialty steels have a major role to play as Proterial’s automotive clients tackle the transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

“In our specialty steel business, we focus on products that increase EV battery performance and productivity, such as clad metals,” Mr. Stack says. “Through our ability to combine materials effectively for battery platforms, we are able to offer benefits that alternative methods like welding cannot provide.”

As Proterial embarks on the latest exciting chapter in the firm’s 113-year history, Mr. Stack concludes one thing is crucial to achieving success: the company culture.

“When my last day as president and CEO arrives,” he says, “I would like to have created a culture of accountability, where everyone feels ownership of the results. We would collaborate with our customers to more efficiently identify and resolve problems.

“Being able to create this culture would mean successfully delivering our strategy, satisfying our customers, and achieving a strong financial performance.”