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Localization and innovation: keys to success for Japanese

For the hundreds of Japanese companies that operate in the United States, the secret to surviving an increasingly competitive and continually changing business landscape is the agility to meet the demands of the local market. Take it from Fujitsu Frontech North America, Pentel of America and Nissei America Inc., which have thrived in this huge and challenging market for almost 50 years now.

Started in 1975, Fujitsu Frontech North America’s core business is developing technology solutions for businesses of all sizes. Its solutions include well designed and easy-to-use point-of-sale and ATM machines and cashless checkout systems. To ensure future growth, the company has had to adopt a global mindset, aware that customers behave differently and markets require distinctive needs.

With Fujitsu Frontech CEO Michitaka Sugawara

Although viewed as a mostly cashless society, the United States still has a significant number of consumers that prefer traditional modes of payment. Known for its flexibility, Fujitsu Frontech develops technologies and systems that accommodate cash and cashless transactions.

It has also invested heavily in R&D and innovation, very evident in its washable RFID and palm vein technology, which allows them to partner with different industries like healthcare, financial institutions and entertainment.

“The United States is the largest market with biggest potential. Generic IT services won’t work. We can differentiate ourselves with old school technology, but the challenge is how we can combine this with IoT solution services,” Fujitsu Frontech CEO Michitaka Sugawara said.

From a very different industry, Japanese pen manufacturer Pentel began its American operations in 1965. The company chose California for its base because, at that time, all its products were shipped directly from Japan. More than 50 years later, Pentel determined that demand was large enough to open its own manufacturing facility in Mexico.

With Pentel of America President Chotaro Koumi

Although it faces tough competition from other companies, like Uni and Pilot, Pentel has grown continuously because of the wide range of products. Aside from its extensive range of pens, the company also sells other kinds of writing instruments, art supplies, pencils and erasers and other related products. 

“With everyone shifting to Asia, my goal is to stabilize and maintain the growth of business here through a strong local team and operations. The Japanese brand is a big asset but the biggest contributor is the people,” said Pentel of America President Chotaro Koumi.

Since it started in 1947, Nissei America has specialized in manufacturing injection molding machines. Thirty years later, in 1977, the company expanded to the United States, recognizing the huge potential in the country. Currently covering 10 percent of the market, Nissei’s customers are all American companies.

Nissei has reported record sales the past few years with the boom experienced in the automotive, healthcare and construction sectors. Known for their quality, all of Nissei’s machines undergo three rounds of inspections, two in Japan and one more in the United States. That rigorous routine has given the brand a reputation for dependability and reliability.

“We have competitors from different countries. But I am very proud to say that even with these competitors from manufacturing hubs like Australia, Germany, Canada and the United States, Nissei always receives a lot of positive feedback from different customers,” said Nissei President Jin Yoda.

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Southern California 2017 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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