On May 26 and 27, I went on a business trip to Hokkaido to participate in the commencement ceremony of a new plant of Hokkaido Sumiden Precision Co., Ltd, a group company in Naie-cho, Sorachi-gun, and in the annual Shibazakura (moss Phlox) Festival held on the company’s premises.
Hokkaido Sumiden, the Group's first business location in Hokkaido, was established in 1972 when the town's desire for industrial development after the closing of the local coal mine and this company's search for a production location for its Hardmetal Division found each other, and operations began in 1980. The dry climate of Hokkaido was well suited to the manufacture of raw powder, which led to steady expansion of the business, and now it has become a global production site of cemented carbide indexable inserts and tool materials, providing made-in-Hokkaido products to users all over the world. In 1987, Hokkaido Electric, the sole electric wire manufacturer in Hokkaido, was established within the same premises, which currently manufactures and sells electric cables as well as electric thermal storage heaters and optical products. With understanding and warm support from Naie-cho and Hokkaido residents, the two companies have grown, with approximately 600 employees in total.
The cemented carbide indexable inserts are used in machine component manufacturing in various industrial fields, including the automotive, steel, shipbuilding and IT sectors, with growing global demand following economic growth and increased automobile production in emerging nations. To meet such trends, we have completed the new plant equipped with highly-efficient production lines that connects in a straight line all the steps of pressing the cemented carbide powder, sintering, processing, coating, inspecting and packaging. Thorough manpower-saving measures and efficient positioning of facilities have greatly improved productivity, and the conventional manufacturing lead-time will be cut by half.
Lately, there are increasing concerns about the possible hollowing-out of the domestic manufacturing industry due to the so-called six-fold handicaps for Japanese businesses. However, I pressed the activation switch with a strong determination that we will produce competitive products in Hokkaido to provide all the world .
The following day was the Shibazakura Festival held jointly by the two companies. Held late May when the approximately 50,000 moss phlox flowers all bloom at the same time, this great tradition has been enjoyed by the local residents, employees and their families for more than 20 years. When the colorful carpet of flowers is at its prime, the festival provides events on the main stage, games, lotteries and stands with local specialtiesI hear that more and more people from the area look forward to this event every year. We will continue our sincere efforts to adhere to the principle: "A company is a public entity of society."