Team ISOWA @ U.S.

We were in Atlanta yesterday attending Super Corr Expo 2012, a cardboard machine exhibition held once every four years, where we exhibited our products.
This time – as in the first trial attempt – we broadcast live via the Internet the production status of our printers used in two companies in the U.S.
It was really good. Some participants were surprised at the speed of our order change processing and high production rate. One person asked, “Is this really live footage?!”
This trial run was only possible because of our good relationship with the two companies. Last night, we started out with a cocktail party for our customers on arrival. The room was not quite big enough, so it was packed full with a lot of guests.
Then we had dinner at a different place including some other guests from Brazil. It was such a lively dinner.
Of the four Super Corr exhibitions held over the past 12 years, this one was the most exciting. I mean it was when you look at ISOWA’s booth. That is undoubtedly because our printers, Falcon and Ibis, have entered the American market and are operating well. They have already become popular here in the U.S.
But you can’t talk about this without mentioning team “ISOWA America.”
Though selfish plays were often seen before, organizational reform this spring has greatly improved their teamwork so now it’s like a completely different team.
Even though they have not been taught about the spirit of corporate culture reform that we’re working on in Japan, they already understand it well, and I always heard the word “team” in their conversation. It is a great thing.
Can you guess how impressed I am?
It feels the same as with this many wine bottles around me.
Super Corr 2012 ended this way, with my heart filled with deep emotion.


This is the Third Time

Today we held an ISOWA tour for our new employees and their families. This is the third time we’ve done such a tour.
I think the families may be worried about what kind of company ISOWA is.
This event is planned for them to see, feel and understand us, as well as to support us.
Today the weather was changeable in Nagoya. At times it was stormy.
In spite of the weather, all six of our new employees and eight of their family members took part in this event. They came from Hikone, Shima, Ena, Gifu-Hashima, Koda and Toyota.
Ms. H of the human resources department provided our company overview, and then I said a few words.
We talked in an open space, not in a meeting room, because I wanted them to feel ISOWA as much as possible.
Then we embarked on a Discovery ISOWA tour presented by the recruiters.
First up was Mr. T of the structure division, who is in his fourth year as an ISOWA employee.
“I am now studying the alignment and installation of machines. Originally I joined ISOWA because I wanted to manufacture things, so I will master that and start studying machine structure.”
Next up was Mr. N of the sales division, who has been working at ISOWA for eight years.

“Until recently I thought our job was just to sell the machines, but I have come to recognize the importance of making customers happy. For this reason, I am now trying to please the customers even before delivering the machines.”
I could feel his zeal for his work. It might be because he recently got married.
Finally Mr. T of the technology division, who has five years of experience in the company, came up and spoke to us.
 “This year, while I worked on developing new machines, I was thinking of this slogan: ‘For the world, for the people.’ My work poses some really challenging tasks and is full of pressure. But the best moment for me is when I hear a customer say ‘nice machine.’ This has always been my goal in development: For the world, for the people.”
Mr. T became a father on the first day of Minkyu. I have never seen him this excited. I couldn't help shaking hands with him.
At the end of the tour, one participant said, “They were not perfect speeches, but what really matters is that they were all speaking nobly with their own words.”
That is what our tour participants always say. It means all the ISOWA members can publish their own thoughts majestically, and such thoughts can be moving for other people.
At this point, the participants divided up with the new hires in one group and the parents in another. The new employees were accompanied by recruiters while Mr. Nakamura and I attended their parents. We ate “miso-katsu” at our three-star restaurant and had some coffee. That was our original full-course lunch.
I asked the parents to tell a little about their children, speaking frankly. I know some things should be kept private, but I will tell you some of the insights.
Ms. K
She is a strange girl. She loves creating things so much that she might suddenly start hammering at something even in the middle of the night.
Mr. A
He is an “otaku.” He loves trains and will go anywhere to take photos of trains. Actually I am a model railroad fan too.
Mr. H
He is a quiet man from the country.
Mr. E
He is obedient and honest. He is like a child.
Mr. Y
He is shy. Although he can’t drink much, he loves drinking. So he often gets drunk and oversleeps.
Mr. M
He is a weird man. Yesterday he suddenly went out for a bike trip to Atsumi 50 km away from our house, just to see fireworks. Actually I like to bike too.
Here are some additional comments.
     ·         I was surprised that you seem to know my kid better than I do.
     ·         Finally I understand why he looked so happy when he got accepted for the job in
           your company.
·         Your factory is much cleaner and designed for safety than I expected. That relieved me greatly.
·         Your offices seem well ventilated.
·         You are all smiling and fresh.
·         Since the time of his internship, we have been saying, "I hope you will be a member of ISOWA."
·         This tour reminded me of the time he took us here and said, "I really want to work for this company."
·         What surprised me most was how honest they all were in their talks.
·         Unlike at my company, you are all cheerful, and the president is friendly.
     (In response to this I said, “To tell you the truth, I’m using my body double for this event.”)
Children want to show their company to their parents, and parents will want to visit there.

This is the kind of people who join ISOWA every year. It's a strong point of ISOWA. We will work with all our might on management in order for them to keep this good feeling forever.

We, the ISOWA family, will warmly welcome your dear children. So please don't worry. And please keep being our fans.
Thank you all once again for coming.


The Second Day of Minkyu

Today was the second day of Minkyu, a project set up for ISOWA’s 90th anniversary commemoration. We had an off-site meeting with the entire company about “manufacturing things.”
Mr. S of the technology division got the ball rolling.
He made a speech explaining what he thinks about developing our service for some customers who visited us two days ago. The original speech was so amazing that I asked him to give it again for all the employees. Of course he did that, and I was just as impressed as before by his talk. Thank you, Mr. S.
After that, each member of the Minkyu declared what they are determined to accomplish for their career life at ISOWA. I heard they kept on discussing until the break of dawn after a great “fudo” battle yesterday. (Fudo means corporate culture in Japanese.)
Here are their manifestos:
Mr. T
“I’ll understand well what the customers think and develop technology by putting myself in their shoes.”
Mr. N
“I’ll halve installation time in order to please the customers – and also spend more time with my family.”
Mr. I
“Sometimes I feel like I’m being operated by the machines rather than vice versa. By the time of our 100th anniversary, I’ll prove that it’s efficient and beneficial to stop the machine while inspecting it. This is what our president calls sublation.”
Mr. K
“I will establish a system where we all get easy and quick access to whatever resources we need and make the system contribute to our management.”
Mr. M
“I’ll take measures to intervene before machines break down, and that will prevent long periods of disruption. Down-time will be as close to zero as possible.”
Mr. Sa
“I’ll build up relations with our subcontractor factories and make them our fans. We'll streamline our systems.”
Mr. M
“I’ll make the processing group into the division with the best atmosphere in the whole company. And I want to learn how to use the processing machine I program.”
Mr. Su
“I’ll think of a better mechanism for my work as well as a better way of working so that I can fail well.”
Ms. N
“I’ll accept more jobs. The fact that I’m a woman won’t be a factor.”
Mr. N
“I’ll learn how to install machines and connect electric power lines myself.”
Notice that their manifestos all start with “I.” They don’t think these projects are up to someone else. It takes courage to announce their own ambitions in front of other people. That’s something you can only understand if you have done it yourself. These staff-members have overcome it. They were all nice. I was really moved by all their manifestos. Thank you.
Then Mr. Tokiwa, one of the special teachers, gave us a lecture.

The following is what struck me the most:

Manufacturing holds two joys. One is the joy to create, a creative pleasure. The other is the joy you feel when the thing you manufactured makes customers happy. This is a social pleasure.

In other words, what matters most is that we deliver products to those who use them. Manufacturing is indeed inextricably linked with selling. Furthermore, marketing, branding, customer service and management – including personnel affairs and accounting – are all part of manufacturing, in a sense.

The truth is that things are not created, but instead, they naturally well up from essential qualities. We can’t create things only with good technique.

What is a company? A company is the place where you do things that you can’t do alone.

In response to this, some ISOWA employees said:

“He’s really professional. It was great.”

I can’t help crying a sentimental tear when I recall that lecture.”

Mr. Furukawa also gave us a mini-lecture:

If things are two sides of the same coin, we should stop thinking they conflict. For example, consider sellers and buyers, or our company and its customers. You can’t think separately about two sides of the same coin.”

During the break, we all had lunch together.

This is what it looks like when 230 people do it together. It’s magnificent.

After listening to the lectures, we had an off-site meeting with all staff-members.

The room was filled with excitement.

The air conditioner seemed to be set too high during the morning, but the ISOWA people’s excitement was so great that they raised the room temperature, so it felt as if the machine was not working at all in the afternoon. The coordinators of each group, who took the off-site coordinator training session, did a great job indeed. Thus, the off-site meeting was finished.

Our discussion about how to build something unique to ISOWA has just started. The game has just begun.

We heard Mr. Tokiwa say, “Now I’m a member of ISOWA’s cheerleader group. Please let me know the status of your progress in a year.”

I believe this picture of us three will be an unforgettable one some years from now, like my picture with Mr. Shibata taken at the 80th anniversary.

Mr. Tokiwa and Mr. Furukawa, thank you so much.

In this way, our two-day event to celebrate ISOWA’s 90th anniversary was successfully concluded.

Thanks to all the Minkyu members for your hard work … Wait a minute! I have to mention the staff-members who couldn’t take part in this event because of their work. And I also came up with a good idea on the way back from Gifu. I decided that we must have another “fudo” battle in Shokawa with those who couldn’t make it this time and all the Minkyu members.

And so our Minkyu will go on.


My Grandfather Wakes from a Long Sleep

My grandfather, Genichi Isowa, passed away 25 years ago.

This is a picture of us taken when I was 1 year old.
A statue of him stands by a pond on our office property and is always watching over us.
Actually there is another bust of him that had been stored in my house for a long time.
I brought out that bust again when I was getting things organized after my father’s death.

Mr. I of the sales division is familiar with this kind of thing. I brought the bust to the office and asked his advice.
He said, “Why don’t you make a pedestal and display the bust on it?”
We examined some design plans. Today the installation was finally completed.

I have a lot of memories associated with this bust.
When my grandfather received the Medal with Blue Ribbon, my family decided to commission a bust commemorating it. So my father drove us my grandfather, my mother and us kids – in his car to the Hokuriku region to make arrangements with an artist for creating this bust.

When we saw the finished work, we were all pleased with its quality.
Only my grandfather himself seems to have been in a bad mood and said, “It doesn’t look like me at all!”
In my opinion, it resembles him very much. What do you think, comparing with his picture?

Now this bust stands at the entrance of our office, so when you visit us, please let me know your impression, especially those of you who knew him in person.


A New and Old Fan

We went to Seattle last spring to visit Company A, who purchased our Falcon printing machine. When I went inside the factory, I found the Falcon set up in a very nice arrangement.

I took a look at the control panel and wondered whether the machine was working well,
and then I took an even closer look.

In their factory, 350 boxes are produced per minute for an order of 50,000 boxes. That hardly happens in Japan.

One of the staff of the American factory said, “I've been working at cardboard factories for 40 years and I've never seen a machine installed so smoothly like this. I really want to thank Mr. H and Mr. T from the assembly division of ISOWA Japan and Mr. A, who is an electrical mechanic, also from ISOWA Japan, as well as Mr. C from ISOWA America, who came here to get it installed.”

He continued: “Actually, Company B is in the same business as us, and they visited us here this morning. They purchased a machine from one of ISOWA's competitors, but seeing how this Falcon printer operated very effectively, they said, 'We should have gotten one of these too.'"

Later we went to lunch together with our clients. At the end of the lunch, someone said, "Let’s flip to decide who is going to pay. Heads or tails?"

It was a surprise. I've never done such a thing before. But anyway, I picked heads.

Who paid after all? I'll leave it to your imagination. Now there is one more ISOWA fan in America. No doubt about it!

Company C is also in Seattle, and we visited them too.
They have been an important customer of ours since my father's day. If we had not had their business, ISOWA America would not be what it is today. They are very progressive and have the most brilliant technical skill in the American cardboard industry. It was in 1976 that my father first met them.

“European and American manufacturers are swayed too much by immediate profit and don't have the energy to work on long-term development. ISOWA is the best. Also, their products provide high cost-performance in terms of maintenance.”

“ISOWA experienced a generational change, and now ISOWA itself has changed. I'd like to pay my respects. We've also had a change of generations. Both of us have good leaders and dependable young people.”

“I expect them to make an epoch-making development that is going to be a legendary in the cardboard industry.”

After the meeting, we had a meal together at a seafood restaurant along the seaside of Seattle.

This time nobody seemed to have a coin, so they treated us to a feast without any coin toss. (laughs)
Let's put our heart and soul into our creating and manufacturing to make a legend!


Looking back on our own growth of the past 10 years

The MC Association (manager and chief association) is a brotherhood for our management team. We held a farewell and welcome party for Mr. I, who left, and for Mr. H and Mr. K, who joined the MC Association this year.

Mr. Shibata from Scholar Consult Co., who is attending a general meeting of stockholders tomorrow as an auditor, also joined the party.

After the meeting, there was a project like a lecture or dialog given by Mr. Shibata. This is becoming our tradition. Tomorrow's theme is "Growth of ISOWA over the past decade." So this time we made time for everyone to give a speech about their own growth over the past 10 years.

It was great, really great.

I was listening to the speeches and thinking about the results of our corporate culture reform, which is the sum total and multiplier effect of our executives' growth over the past decade.

Isowa, a managing director, made a strong declaration: "We at Hooper (ISOWA's affiliated company) will do our best. It might take a long time to be like ISOWA, but I would like you to support us."

Of course I will.

After the speeches of all the members, Mr. Shibata started telling us what didn't make sense. "It was so regrettable." I couldn't understand what he meant.

"Actually I forgot to bring a notebook and couldn't take notes during your amazing speeches. It was so regrettable that I couldn't memorize all of today's stories because much of the material for my talk is actually from ISOWA." Finally I understood what he wanted to say.

And then the organizer said, "Well, company executive Isowa will make a brief speech, finally, but before that …" The door opened and some cakes came into sight.

At first I just thought it was for the departing Mr. I, but to my surprise, the cakes were to celebrate my birthday, which is coming in two days.

I didn't know how they decided the number of candles, but anyway, I gave a puff to put out the candles. I easily blew out all the candles on the cake in front of me. And when I tried to put out the other candles on the other cakes, before I got out of breath, I lost my balance and almost stuck my head into a pot of shabu-shabu. That was close. I'm sorry. I think I have to write up an accident report.

By the way I heard that they prepared two cakes so everyone could have a piece.

They were delicious, indeed.
Thank you for celebrating my birthday.
Let's do our best for our next 10 years of growth, shall we?