Our latest trip to Japan offered us an opportunity to connect with old friends, make new friends, and learn about the future plans of six of the major OEMs.
(Pictured above: Osaka Castle from the 38th floor restaurant where we had lunch with executives from Kyocera during the last day of our trip.)
I started writing this as we were flying home from Osaka for the good ol’ USA the day after the final meeting of our Japan tour. It was a hectic 10-day excursion with meetings at Konica Minolta, Canon, Ricoh, and Toshiba in Tokyo, followed by a meeting at Sharp in Nara and Kyocera in Osaka.
Throughout our trip we were well received by very senior manufacturer executives from each of the companies we visited. It was quite an experience. Seeing old friends such as Haruo Murase, recently retired from Canon; Hidetsugu Nonaka, deputy general manager, Digital Business Group, Ricoh Company Ltd.; Shoei Yamana, CEO, Konica Minolta, Inc.; and Norihiko Ina, president of Kyocera Document Solutions, Inc. was especially gratifying. Each took time to not only discuss business with us but entertain us as well.
It all started with a fun-filled Monday night the day after we arrived in Japan with our hosts Steve Burger (Ricoh’s VP and general manager, Digital Business Group, Applications Service Center) and his wife Jamie who took us to dinner at a very special Tokyo restaurant, Andy’s. This is a restaurant for expatriates although we did see a number of locals dining here as well. It brought back tales of Hemingway at Harry’s Bar in Paris. Steve and his family have been based in Japan for the past five years. It was nice to unwind after a long trip and we thank Steve and Jamie for their hospitality and for introducing us to Andy, the charismatic Australian host of such a neat establishment.
Later that week we had breakfast at our hotel in Tokyo with Tetsuo Kubo, president of OA Life Co., Ltd., who contributes a monthly column to The Cannata Report. His comments about the office technology industry and the various OEMs were enlightening. We are grateful to our translator Jumpei Ueda who made it possible for us to have an informative conversation with Kubo-san. We provide a monthly column for Kubo-san’s publication and it is Jumpei’s father Hiro who translates our articles into Japanese and translates Kubo-san’s articles into English for The Cannata Report.
In January 2019 we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Marketing Research Consultants. Since then we have visited Japan 12 times. On two occasions I personally have spent a month in this wonderful country. The first time was while serving in the United States Marine Corps, and the second was after I joined Canon in 1974 and traveled to Japan to discuss building a copier division in the U.S. It has been an unbelievable experience to learn about the Japanese culture and meet many people that I now call my friends.
You can look forward to CJ and Scott’s comments, articles, and presentations about what they learned traveling through Japan in the coming months. I am anxious to listen to them as well as read their comments in our first ever bonus issue, “Access Japan,” that we will publish later this year.
I would be remiss if I did not add how much we appreciated GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation’s generous support as our exclusive “Access Japan” sponsor. Jennie Fisher, David Pohlman, and Tony Golobic will receive, in person, our heartfelt thanks during our visit to GreatAmerica in August.
After our visit to GreatAmerica we will launch a panel discussion “road show” to discuss what we learned on our 2018 tour of Japanese manufacturers. Stops along the way will include American Coop, BPCA, BTA, CDA, ICDA, PRO Dealer Group, and, SDG. By our estimation we will be conveying an important message to more than 300 of the leading independent dealers in the United States. In addition, we will have similar discussions with our client/partners who are interested in learning about our travels to the other side of the Pacific.
Dealers should understand that we were treated so well by our Japanese friends because of them. The executives we met in Japan were anxious to hear how their important dealer customers are doing in the critical areas of the business. We also made presentations to two manufacturers based on the results of last year’s dealer survey and emphasized the importance of studying the data that defines the level of dealer participation in MPS, MNS, and production print. CJ assured them they would receive complimentary issues of The Cannata Report so they can read the complete results of our 2018 Annual Dealer Survey, which will enable them to see how well the dealers that represent their respective organizations are performing.
The Cannata Report is committed to traveling to Japan every four years because it corresponds to the OEM’s product development cycle. Visiting more frequently, in our opinion, would be counter-productive. CJ and Scott are already mapping out their plans for that next visit in 2022.
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