Travels of the World
Sales and Management Interview with General Manager Kevin Yamada

ケビン 山田GM・高橋秀樹GM Sales and Management
Interview with
General Manager Kevin Yamada
Supporting Sodick manufacturing
from N. America for over 15 years
Interview Interviewer: Miki Shimamura, caribou Inc.

Supporting reliable manufacturing for customers in North, Central, and South America

Tell us about the work you do as General Manager.

ケビン 山田GMMr. Takahashi (see the following interview) and I are General Managers at Sodick Inc. Mr. Takahashi handles technical issues, while I mainly deal with administration and sales management related to after-sales service.
To put it simply, if a staff member has a technical issue they don’t understand, Mr. Takahashi is the person to ask. Everyone calls him, saying “Takashi-san, please come and take a look!” For any other administrative issues related to management and servicing, I’m your man.

Tell us about the work you supervise.

I head the Service Department and the Spare Parts and Consumables Department. I am the customer manager for the affiliate companies and I liaise with Sodick staff at the Japanese headquarters too.
As well as management, I handle sales in Brazil.

What are the features of the American market compared to the Japanese market?

Talking about wire-cut electrical discharge machines, in particular, I think that the detailed machining of metal molds has a significant role for them in Japan. In America, however, it’s mostly about dynamic parts machining.
In fact, parts machining doesn’t demand the same high accuracy as mold machining and our VZ300L/500L entry-level machines are the best-selling models in the U.S.
Also, when viewed from overseas, Japanese manufacturing seems to be in a higher dimension. Japanese manufacturers in particular are seen as essential partners in the American aerospace industry.

Opening new markets in developing countries like Brazil and offering thorough service in existing markets.

Through your sales activities, you seem to feel that the Mexican market is particularly dynamic, don’t you?

ケビン 山田GM The economy is developing extremely fast, particularly around the automobile industry in León, the major city in the central state of Guanajuato, and in Querétaro State in the east.
Japanese enterprises, too, already have large factories and are achieving better and better results and we hear that construction of production plants are also underway. I think it will really grow in the next five to 10 years.
The average age of the employees at the factories and related sites is in the 20s and they are very energetic.
The aviation industry is also thriving, so Mexico promises to be very interesting.

You also cover the sales area of Brazil, which is very far away.
What’s happening there at the moment?

Unlike Mexico, Brazil has its own unique commercial practices, higher taxes than other countries, and a different import system. So, growth centers around local companies, rather than overseas corporations.
As far as Sodick Inc. is concerned, the major market in Brazil is around Sao Paulo and we’ve had ties to a dealer there for many years.
As it’s so far to get there from Chicago — about an 11-hour flight — we are having JAPACK’S Inc. to open up a region 300 km in all directions to expand our space to operate there.
Although there is no industry in the Amazon, Manaus uniquely has special tariff concessions, and there is room to send a few machines there.

You are growing sales in these markets and within the United States and are winning the trust of many companies. What is the reason for that?

Throughout our company, we do our best to meet the diverse requests from our customers.
Not just our sales staff but also members of the Service Department frequently visit developing markets, like Brazil and Mexico. They also conduct Sodick product training and sales promotion for customers and local dealers working with Sodick.

Tell us what you plan to tackle in the future.

There is an extremely large number of Sodick machines in America, including some machines more than 10 years old that are still in operation. I am focusing on improving our service efficiency and adding staff to expand our paid repair services by service technicians.
Price competition in selling consumables is extremely fierce in the U.S. market. However, I think this is a growth area where we can achieve 10% annual sales growth.
I also want to expand our consumables business in developing markets in South America, such as Mexico .
The South American markets center on low-priced, Chinese-made wire-cut electrical discharge machines and a lot of consumables for them are out there. First of all, we require countermeasures against that.
In regard to sales, we need to win over Japanese companies to go there. In Brazil, however, we can’t do anything too daring and have to move one step at a time.