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WATANABE FOODMACH CO.,LTD

General Managing Director

Hiroyuki Watanabe

Hiroyuki Watanabe
Contributing to the advancement of food culture in countries

The mission of Watanabe Foodmach Co., Ltd. is to contribute to the advancement of food culture in countries around the world, through the production and sale of meat slicers and other food processing machines. Based on the foundation of our reliable technological capabilities and finely-tuned after-sales services, built up over 80 years since our initial founding, we hope to increase the number of “Watanabe fans” around the world by proactively promoting our brand and exhibiting our products at IFFA (International Trade Fair for the Meat Industry) and numerous other overseas trade fairs.

Year of Birth
1976
Birthplace
Aichi
Name
WATANABE FOODMACH CO.,LTD
Headquarters
2-12-26 Tsuyuhashi, Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya, Aichi
Founded
1938
Type of business
Production and sale of food processing machinery
url
http://www.foodmach.co.jp/eg/index_e.html
Watanabe Foodmach was originally an iron and metalworking workshop, that manufactured milling machines and other machine tools. One day, our founder—my grandfather—was asked to repair a meat slicer (made in the Netherlands) being used at a butcher’s shop run by an acquaintance. This prompted him to foresee the coming of “an age where people would consume large volumes of meat,” and identify the need for mechanization. After several prototypes, our first machine was completed in 1947. From around that time, our company took its first steps as a manufacturer of food processing machines. At a comparatively early stage in the development of our business we began to set our sights on overseas markets, proactively visiting and observing meat processing markets around the world from the 1960s onwards, and bringing home insights and technologies obtained there to Japan to utilize in the company’s own product development efforts. Today, we have an overseas subsidiary in China, and have formed dealership agreements with vendors in 14 countries and regions, including Southeast Asia, North and South America, Australia and Spain, and are working to spread our food processing machines around the world. After graduating from an American university, I joined the company in 2000.

From then until now, I have been engaged in exclusively overseas-related duties. I now manage our export operations as the person responsible for our Overseas Business Division. In the Japanese market, consumption of meat is expected to decrease as a result of the decline in population size, due to the low birth rate and aging population. In spite of this, food distribution channels are currently diversifying, and I feel that demand for food processing machines is definitely increasing on a global scale. The more I visit overseas, the more “homework” I manage to bring home with me, which leads to new developments for our business. Last fiscal year, our net sales from exports to overseas customers were around ¥400 million. This year, we will advance these activities at an accelerated pace, with the aim of achieving sales of ¥1 billion within the next ten years, and making these revenues a driving power to ensure the company’s survival in the future.

There are already similar manufacturers in various other countries, and there is no need for customers to go out of their way to use our machines. In order to open up these markets, we have focus our energies into increasing the level of customer satisfaction after sales. There are many cases in which the services offered by vendors carrying imported machines end with the sale, and vendors do not visit customers to perform repairs. In our case, visit our customers together with a vendor representative immediately as soon as there is an inquiry or request for repair, and ensure that we can handle all issues on the spot. Since our machines have a long service life of around 10 or 15 years, we consider after-sales service to be our most important issue, to ensure that customers can continue to use them with full satisfaction for the duration of that period. For this reason, we only form business partnerships with vendors that have teams of engineers capable of repairing our machines. We conduct training seminars in each country when we visit to exhibit at trade shows, and also invite engineers to visit Japan to participate in regular training.

In this way, we achieve the same level of after-sales service in other countries as we provide in Japan. Our basis as a company is as a machinery manufacturer, as craftspeople who build things. For this reason, words of gratitude from our customers make us happier than anything else. They are also my own personal motivation. If the customers are happy, then vendors, too, will feel reassured that it is OK to leave things up to Watanabe. I think it is a continuation of this that causes the number of vendors carrying our products to increase. The global meat processing market is a surprisingly small world, so success in one country naturally leads to a spread and crossover into other countries. I want us to spare no efforts in working to create Watanabe Fans around the world, so that customers will continue to trust us over the course of 10 years, and then choose one our our products again 10 years later.

After-sales service is our greatest weapon for developing overseas markets. Through the accumulation of these efforts, we eventually see local needs and determine the best product specifications for each locality. Almost 20 years have passed since I joined the company. Over the next 20 years, I want to build machines with localized specifications that match the specific food cultures of each country and region. When visiting various regions, we sometimes receive ideas and requests, telling us that it would be good if we had a certain type of machine. I think that if we can create new machines based on such hints, then we can create a more enjoyable product development cycle. So far, our company has never made a machine that completely disregarded the Japanese market, so deciding to make one would require quite a lot of courage. But I would like us to try doing it one time as a case study, without fear of failure. I want us to become deeply enrooted in local food culture, and contribute to its advancement to such an extent that customers will say, for example, that one cannot make tacos without a Watanabe Foodmach machine. I think that the real battle still lies ahead of us.

This year is also the year of the IFFA (International Trade Fair for the Meat Industry), which is held once every three years in Frankfurt, Germany. Following on from the last event in 2016, we are planning to exhibit in an individual booth space. I hope that this opportunity will enable us to further deepen our presence in countries where we already have transaction partners, and enable us to appeal to visitors and develop new relationships with customers from countries where we have not yet established a presence. Of course, nobody will take any interest from simply displaying our machines, so first we will seek to draw attention and promote our “people,” by presenting a splash of Japanese color on all fronts. I hope to spend an enjoyable time with buyers and engineers from around the world, while enjoying delicious Japanese sake and meat dishes. This ties in with the root basis of our corporate philosophy of trust, craftsmanship and harmony. Through these kinds of efforts to expand our overseas operations, I hope that we can create opportunities for Japanese food culture to spread around the world, together with our company’s products.

Hiroyuki Watanabe
Hiroyuki Watanabe

*Information accurate as of time of publication.

WATANABE FOODMACH CO.,LTD

General Managing Director
Hiroyuki Watanabe