Global Fastener News

2000 FIN – Media Spotlight – Forbes: ‘Dreary Commodity Parts’ Manufacturer Suddenly Successful in Japan

February 16
00:00 2015

MEDIA SPOTLIGHT – “Forget the Toyotas Matushitas and Canons for a moment,” small companies employ 60% of Japan’s labor force, and Takenaka Seisakusho Co. is an example of a small manufacturer making a sudden success, reporter Benjamin Fulford informed Forbes magazine readers.

Takenaka has grown to US$25 million in annual sales and has plans to go public and double revenues by 2005.
“The heart of the operation is a chopping machine that slices nuts off a long molten steel rod that pushes endlessly forward,” Fulford described the suburban Osaka operation.

“In the office uniformed workers sit a rows of steel desks,” the Forbes article relates. “One is manned by the president, Hirotada Takenaka, who does not have so much as a cubicle to separate him from his 165 employees.
The company’s two prefabricated factory shacks are described as “a scene reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.”
Takenaka Seisakusho was founded in 1935 to make battleship fittings.
Fulford noted that Takenaka, 51, inherited the business from his father and now competes against 6,000 Japanese nut and bolt companies in the $30 billion worldwide industry.
Takenaka has survived downturns, such as in the latex 1980s when the yen value shot up and new Asian competitors were entering the Japanese market. Between 1984 and 1987 sales plunged 58% to $16 million.
“But Takenaka had already realized he had to do something to add value,” Fulton reported. He set up his own R&D department.
“After five years of research – quite frantic towards the end, as money began to dry up – his team came up with a super bolt, according to Forbes. “Coated with the company’s patented fluorocarbon polymer, it can resist seawater or the harsh environment of may industrial plants.”
Forbes explained to readers that standard steel bolts show signs of corrosion after 1,000 hours in seawater and zinc coated in 500 hours, copared with Takenaka’s $10,000- to $12,000-per-ton bolts lasting for 6,000 hours.
“I spent almost as much time trying to sell these things as I did developing them,” Fulford quoted Takenaka.
“Japanese had a hard time believing a small company could come up with something innovative,” Fulford wrote.
Takenaka got his break in the U.S.  After six months of offshore oil drug trials, Takenaka was put on Exxon’s master vendor list, and other major oil companies followed, and then for an oil rig in Malaysia the specs called for Takenaka’s bolts.
“Suddenly, these guys who turned me down when I was begging for them to buy my bolts at cost [US$6,000 a ton] came knocking on our door,” Takenaka recalled. “I told them the price was now $12,000 a ton, and they all paid up.”
Takenaka went on to win contracts for Japanese public works projects, including a $1.5 million contract for the Seto Bridge.
His fellow Japanese bolt makers haven’t had the same success. “Most bolt makers, just like most companies, invested in too much capacity in the 1980s, and they still have it sitting idle,” he told Forbes.
Fulford reported that “their lobby group, the Fasteners Institute of Japan – staffed with ex-bureaucrats – is now asking the government to buy up excess capacity to protect them from imports.”
Today Takenaka is shifting from metal parts to anticorrosion coatings, and he hired an engineer he met at a bar to create new products. The new engineer is emphasizing high-rech and set up an Internet website:  Takenaka-mfg.co.jp
“Turns out that Takenaka’s decision to bring R&D to bolts was not so nuts after all,” Fulford concluded. ©2000/2015 Fastener Industry News.
For information on permission to reuse or reprint this article please e-mail: FIN@GlobalFastenerNews.com
Editor’s Note: Articles in MEDIA SPOTLIGHT are excerpts from publications or broadcasts which show the industry what the public is dreading or hearing about fasteners and fastener companies.

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