Client Stories

Business Strategy of Tenhiko Industrial Aiming to be the Most Rewarding Company in Japan (Second Part)

Tomoo Higuchi, Representative Director and President, TENHIKO INDUSTRIAL CO.,LTD
General view of the main factory at the Osaka head office

ABOUT THE COMPANY

"Aiming to be the most rewarding company in Japan" – TENHIKO INDUSTRIAL CO.,LTD attracts public attention for their corporate culture that exactly realizes their corporate philosophy, and is often introduced in various media, such as books, magazines, and TV programs.
The company has a staff-first policy. This workstyle has been boosting performance and producing great results in recent years, like Web-based market expansion and advancing overseas.
We interviewed Tomoo Higuchi, Representative Director and President of Tenhiko Industrial, mainly about these topics. The interview is introduced in the first and second parts.

Treasuring All Encounters Opens a Path to New Business Opportunities

Mr. Tomoo Higuchi, Representative Director and President

Mr. Higuchi's desire to treasure human connections is what underpins their staff-first policy. According to Mr. Higuchi, this is not limited to those among employees and customers, but includes all connections. He told us about a typical episode like this. "In about 2006, I went on a tour to Seoul with my family. There was a couple on the tour group who fluently spoke Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. I was a little curious about where they were from. On the flight back home, we happened to be seated beside each other. I decided to strike up a conversation with them, and found that the man was a Chinese student studying at a graduate school in Kobe. He said that they were on a honeymoon as well as a visit to the grave of a relative in Korea. Since he was a friendly person and living in the Kansai region like me, we made an appointment to have dinner in Osaka later on. I never expected that this encounter would later greatly develop our company’s advance overseas."

A Turning Point for a Staff Member,Leading to a Turning Point for the Company

First overseas advance of Tenhiko Industrial in 2005

"I met the Chinese student in Osaka. His wife had already started living in Shanghai a little earlier. However, he told me that he would not go back to his home town but remain in Japan and look for a job. When I heard this, I invited him to come and see our office some time. Then he gave me a call as early as the next day and asked me to employ him. I was surprised at his quick action." The Chinese student was invited to join the company as an employee, and he was an exceptionally personable and excellent staff member. "About two years later, his wife's parents asked him to come back to Shanghai. He thought about it a lot and asked me to let him quit." Mr. Higuchi readily agreed to his request, but asked him to help the company as a local coordinator for one more year. This Chinese employee lived up to Mr. Higuchi's expectations. In addition, all the Chinese people he coordinated were just as considerate as him. Impressed by this fact, Mr. Higuchi made a momentous decision. "I asked him to create a company in China."

Overseas Expansion as Stage Where Employees Can Play an Active Role

10th Anniversary of Shanghai Tenhiko Co, Ltd. celebrated in 2017

This Chinese employee was still in his 20s, and was selected by Mr. Higuchi as the person responsible for the new company. He greatly exhibited his abilities right from the launch preparation stage. "They say it takes about one year to establish a company in China. However, he made the preparations quickly by making the most of his local connections and started the business just three months later." He rented part of a building in Shanghai and employed two women to launch the company. It was named Shanghai Tenhiko Co, Ltd. That company is now procuring cast products in China and doing various other work as the supplier for Tenhiko Industrial (Thailand) Co., Ltd. which is now the company’s site in Thailand. "My idea about overseas expansion is not to determine where to advance first. I give priority to people. Our company will advance only into countries where we can make the most of excellent human resources. I think this is why we are successful." He says his idea is certainly true about the background of launching Tenhiko Thailand.

Spirited Staff Get the Thai Site on Track

Staff of Tenhiko Industrial (Thailand) Co., Ltd.

Tenhiko Thailand is one of the overseas pivots of the company’s triangular strategy with Osaka TWS and Shanghai Tenhiko. Its history can be traced back to 2004. Mr. Higuchi, who attaches such importance to human connections, also had an episode about this. "We have a young male employee who used to backpack mainly in Southeast Asia. He learned English out of necessity during his travels and stayed at the house of a tribal chief in Indonesia for a month. He had uncommon energy and a global perspective even before he entered our company. I had a good opinion of him, so at the last minute I decided to take him with me for my first inspection visit to Thailand." Mr. Higuchi was very impressed by the gigantic Thai market and felt it was necessary to advance into the country right away. On the flight back home after the inspection, he asked the young employee to stay in Thailand for some time. He readily agreed without hesitation and started to stay in Thailand alone in 2005, the next year. The Thai business was started with just one desk, but it was incorporated in 2008 because of this employee’s ability. Now the local corporation has grown and has 30 Thai staff.

Overseas Expansion Also Has Favorable Impacts on Domestic Business

Steel material processing in the factory of the Osaka head office

The overseas expansion of the company is on track also because of the company’s successful triangular strategy. At the head office, people speak in English and Chinese almost every day. This environment is now producing further changes. "Even staff in the domestic Japanese business department who are usually not engaged in overseas business are now gaining potential global awareness. As a result, our staff can make sales approaches to customers in Japan from a global perspective. They can propose business expansion in China and production in Thailand. The scope of our proposals is gradually expanding this way. This is a very great change for our company," Mr. Higuchi noted. We asked him about their future vision. "We will put more effort into overseas business," he replied. "The Japanese market may significantly shrink due to the population decrease. For example, we are devising a plan to complete transactions in ASEAN countries with Tenhiko Thailand. We have already started training human resources for this purpose. We will continue to take on bold challenges for unconventional new business opportunities beyond the SME framework, while treasuring relationships of mutual trust and mental connections." That was his concluding statement in our interview.

Business Strategy of Tenhiko Industrial Aiming to be the Most Rewarding Company in Japan (First Part)

FROM J-GoodTech

Although many SMEs are not promoting overseas expansion as they would like, Tenhiko Industrial is having great success overseas with its people-oriented strategy.
The factors of this success are strategies matching the originality of each employee and the capacity to make decisions by reading the trends of the times.

There are many companies like Tenhiko that have excellent technology and ideas among Japanese SMEs.
However, it is a fact that they are still far from being well known in society.

J-GoodTech will continue its promotion activities with a focus on such characteristic SMEs to make them known by more people.

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