Nagoya, the capital of the prefecture of Aichi, is the industrial heartland of Japan. Located in the middle of the country, the city is home to some of the largest homegrown brands that have conquered the globe, such as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Denso, and Toyota Motors.
Ubukata Industries, a maker of motor protectors for hermetic compressors in air conditioners and seismic sensors for earthquake protection, might not have the same brand recall enjoyed by other Japanese companies. But, because of its niche products, the company dominates the competition.
Given Japan’s well-known geographical challenges – a small country with limited arable land – it is no surprise that the country has become master in making things and selling them around the world.
“The country is resource-poor in terms of feeding its people or powering the enormous foundries, smelters, and factories that power global industry. So, Japan needed to import things in order to survive.” Chairman & CEO Shinya Ukubata explained.
Amid the rapid industrialization in the early 1900s, Japan saw the emergence of the sogo shosha or the trading house, which simply put, acted as middlemen in between importers of raw materials and the makers of finished gods. Following the devastation of the Second World War, the country underwent an aggressive government-led effort to rebuild industry, including its chuushoukigyou or small- and medium-sized enterprises.
“For example, people know the Toyota brand as a maker of cars. Its primary products are vehicles. But Toyota’s production relies on an intricate manufacturing ecosystem and supply chain that is made up of more than 3,000 small to medium enterprises,” Ubukata said.
“Japan is a collective society and we derive our strength from each other. Big companies in Japan rely on us for cost efficient, high quality parts. By working with them, we also innovate as we deal with problems that no one has yet seen. Nagoya survives and thrives because each member is a vital part of this great symbiosis,” he added.
Ubukata Industries is a relatively young company by Japanese standards. But it has developed over 1,000 patents for its products throughout its 60 years in business.
“Since we hold and own our patents, we are keen on entering new markets. Through our products, we aim to tell the world: Together with Japan, you win on quality and you win on price,” he said.