Mr. Toyo Murohashi [profile]
Realizing an energetic and speedy corporation
Mr. Toyo Murohashi
Sr. Manager of Sales & Marketing
The Well Pacific Worldwide Ltd.
Studied abroad during the seller's market of the bubble period
Returned to Japan in the employment ice age
Although it now seems unbelievable, I graduated during the seller's market of the bubble period. It was a time when a Chuo University graduate could find employment at any major corporation. I thought it was a waste to simply seek employment as normal. I wanted to learn to speak English. After graduation, I enrolled in an English-language school in Spokane, Washington. I studied English in an environment with no other Japanese people. Afterwards, I entered graduate school at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in New Jersey and obtained my MBA.
After graduating from FDU, I decided to seek employment at a Japanese corporation and returned to Japan. However, the bubble had already burst at the time and employment opportunities suddenly became scarce. I had already turned 25 years old. At that time, no corporation would hire a newly-graduated 25-year old. The only company which offered me a job was Uniden Corporation, a manufacturer of communication devices.
After 10 months of training, immediately stationed overseas
Uniden is an interesting company. Despite its headquarters being located in Japan, Uniden conducts almost all of its business in America. The chairman at that time also thought radically. He sought only personnel who could work overseas and hired me regardless of my age. Normally, a new university graduate would accumulate 5 or 6 years of experience before being stationed overseas. However, Uniden sent me to America immediately after 10 months of training.
Actually, my work at Uniden led to my current career. My job was OEM sales of communication devices. (OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacture and refers to the development/manufacturing of products for other company's brands.) As a subcontractor, Uniden made all of the cordless telephones for famous brands such as Sony and Toshiba. I handled sales for such products. In today's world, there is only demand for mobile phones. However, when I worked at Uniden, cordless telephones posted sales of more than 60 billion yen in the American market alone.
Career change—focusing on an onsite approach
Afterwards, I focused on working onsite and changed companies to Cobra Electronics Corporation, which has its headquarters in America. Cobra Electronics Corporation specializes in wireless radios used in trucks and passenger vehicles. Although the company possesses sales channels for its private brand, it did not possess a manufacturing line. I entered Cobra Electronics Corporation in 2000, a time when major Japanese corporations had just started to shift their manufacturing centers from Taiwan and the Philippines to China. The job description for my position at Cobra started in Hong Kong. My duties were to use Hong Kong as a base for visiting factories in Asia and purchasing products (this is known as product sourcing). At that time, although Japanese factories were entering China at a rapid pace, cost was high. Therefore, Chinese businesspeople tried to start their own factories at a low cost, but they couldn't keep pace with quality. Cobra supported the operation of such Chinese factories, using a customer perspective to help create an environment which would increase factory quality. Increased quality became an asset for the Chinese factories and ensured that Cobra would be supplied with stable products. It was very fulfilling work.
Going independent & starting a business: Hong Kong-based IPO for Vietnam business
Office lined with boxes still waiting to be unpacked
Today, as you can see, my office is in the midst of moving and things are in a jumble. Although there is no resemblance to an office right now, we will have an outstanding company in just two weeks. This kind of speed exists in Hong Kong, but not in Japan. I became interested in my friend's company and decided to join it. I have accumulated a wealth of know-how. I have deep knowledge of factories and have conducted purchasing, so I am familiar with Taiwan and Vietnam in addition to China. Although much business has been entrusted to China until now, China risk has arisen in conjunction with labor and rising costs. It is necessary to disperse this risk. Right now, the country working the hardest to develop infrastructure is Vietnam. Until now, Vietnam has been dependent on imports, but the country now seeks to establish government-backed OEM factories for creating a made-in-Vietnam brand which cannot be controlled by America. The new company which I founded focuses on this trend. There is know-how in Hong Kong, and I possess know-how for selecting sales channels and manufacturing facilities in Japan and America. Through a tie-up with my friend's company, a completely new project has started from the end of last year.
Vietnam is friendly towards Japan and Vietnamese people want to learn about Japan. For example, if a Vietnamese IT engineer supplements his knowledge with proficiency in Japanese, it makes it much easier to provide outsourcing to Japanese corporations. Vietnam's position in the communist bloc creates many difficulties. This makes it best to base operations out of Hong Kong, a country with few regulations, low corporate taxes and a high degree of freedom. This is the appeal of Hong Kong. I decided to base our IPO (International Purchasing Office) for Vietnam business here in Hong Kong.
Creating work through cross marketing
People from Hong Kong never feel that they must restrict themselves to work common to their industry. Instead, they create new work through vertical-horizontal connections. In Japan, even if a businessperson doesn't seek lifetime employment at one corporation, he or she will most often work in the same industry even when changing companies. This is different from Hong Kong. Of course, there are also merits for the company hiring the new employee. If your client desires a different product, you have channels to acquire that product, so you can procure and sell the product. This is the idea behind cross marketing. My friend is currently taking a business trip to Taiwan. We will create an industrial park for the Vietnam project, so we require construction-related knowledge. Hotel management is also important. We cross with completely different people. Professionals from completely different fields gather together, create a team and work. Although a Japanese company may view this method as haphazard, there is energy and speed which is free from restrictions.
What Japan has lost
Office entrance to The Well Pacific Worldwide Ltd.
I have heard that an increasing number of young Japanese are reluctant to go overseas. I think that my generation can also be held responsible for this trend. It is only natural for someone to lose motivation if they believe that even hard work will only bring a certain level of success. When I was young, there was a greater sense of hope. We believed that we could become successful through hard work. At that time, many of the adults around us were also confident. However, after the bursting of the Japanese economic bubble, we have lost such confidence. This is a great loss for Japan.
Although Japan lost money when the bubble burst, our greatest loss was confidence. I am really enjoying my work right now and my life is fun. I want to convey this enjoyment and fun to young people.
"If you work hard, you will be rewarded accordingly."—At the very least, this holds true in Hong Kong.
- Mr. Toyo Murohashi
- Born in Tokyo in 1966. After graduating from the Department of Marketing and Trade, Faculty of Commerce in 1990, entered graduate school at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in New Jersey, USA and obtained his MBA. After returning to Japan, entered employment at Uniden Corporation in 1993. After 10 months of training, was stationed in Dallas, Texas, returning to the USA. In 2000, changed companies to Cobra Electronics Corporation and performed purchasing/sourcing while based in Hong Kong. Currently, has joined his friend's company (The Well Pacific Worldwide Ltd.) and established an office in Hong Kong. Now working to realize a new project in Vietnam.
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