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Steel resolve: How E. Katayama navigates challenges to shape the future of construction

Article - December 12, 2023

In a candid interview, the president of E. Katayama, a leader in the trade of specialized steel and construction materials, discusses how they’re tackling labor scarcity, meeting strict anti-seismic standards, and envisioning a future beyond borders.

The Japanese manufacturing industry stands as a symbol of resilience and adaptability. As the world grappled with supply chain disruptions due to COVID and the U.S.-China decoupling, the nation’s companies were uniquely positioned to export their expertise, especially to countries like Indonesia. 

“It is now an opportune moment for the Japanese populace to reclaim their confidence,” company president Takashi Katayama says.

Japan’s demographic shift, with an aging workforce, poses challenges, but E. Katayama is embracing it as an opportunity. The company actively recruits Vietnamese trainees to supplement labor shortages and promotes integrating them into the construction and manufacturing process.

“This challenge looms large on the horizon,” states Mr. Katayama, emphasizing the need for foreign workers in the industry.

Primarily focused on the trade of construction materials, the president says diversity and flexibility have contributed to the company’s longevity, also highlighting its unique business model. Unlike larger corporations bound by ISO standards, E. Katayama’s agility allows them to cater to customer needs rapidly.

Collaboration remains central to the company strategy, however, creating stronger bonds with suppliers and end-users. “We not only forge connections but also generate shared value,” the president says, underscoring the importance of partnerships in their business.

Regarding overseas expansion, E. Katayama’s attention has shifted towards a sustained focus on Vietnam, an initiative extending beyond construction and manufacturing and into IT engineering.

Looking ahead, Mr. Katayama aims to pass down the company’s generational legacy and empower his team. “Our aspiration is to evolve into a company that adeptly aligns with contemporary trends through transformative measures,” he concludes.