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Machine Tool Maker Takisawa Opens Technical Center in Schaumburg

• A machine-tool maker, Takisawa, Inc. opened its North America’s headquarters and technical center in Schaumburg and held a grand opening ceremony on May 28. At the newly built facility, the visitors made a short trip to the showroom where several machines were displayed.
• At a welcome reception at the showroom, Yasumasa Kondo, President and CEO of the company, spoke about the three distinct functions of the facility, office, showroom, and warehouse.
• On the 2.4-acre site at 1750 N. Plum Grove Rd., a 2,800-square-foot showroom always accommodates four to five machines, so that the customers are able to touch them and test them with their products. Parts and some machines are stored in the 5,800-square-foot warehouse that enables Takisawa to implement quick deliveries for its customers. Kondo said that the company would like to make its sales double with those functions.

• The visitors moved to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel where the grand opening ceremony was held.
• In his opening remarks, Kazuhiro Harada, President of Takisawa’s headquarters in Okayama, Japan, said that the three functions of the new facility could provide many opportunities such as engineer training and quick delivery for the customers. He also stated Takisawa’s specific goal saying, “Taking advantage of the new Technical Center, the sales volume is going to be $30 million in the near future,” and asked customers for their strong support.

• Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado congratulated Takisawa saying, “The new facility would add a new chapter to Takisawa’s 90 years of remarkable history.” He also said that the company’s continuous innovation and advanced technology would bring benefits across the Midwest and the U.S., and as a global company, Takisawa would be dedicated to communities.

• Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson welcomed Takisawa and hoped that the company would create high-tech jobs. He mentioned that the Village of Schaumburg has attracted the biggest number of Japanese companies compared to any other cities in Illinois, and also developed good hotels and a well-equipped convention center.

• Kevin Kishida, President of Takisawa’s distributer Yamazen, Inc., said that the new facility would be another milestone after Takisawa expanded its business in the U.S. in the 1970s. He said that if you built a facility, a business god would come with purchase orders. “Our responsibility is to sell more, get customers to the great showroom every day, every week, and every month.”

• Yasumasa Kondo was actually president of Takisawa’s headquarters in Japan; however, after completing his four goals, he passed his position to Harada in 2012 and decided to leverage its American business.

• An Interview with Kondo

• Takisawa was started in Japan in 1922 and incorporated in 1944. The company expanded its business in the U.S. in 1979. Kondo was assigned to work in the overseas department and in charge of the U.S. He made many business trips back and forth between the two countries.
• In 1989, Takisawa had a new technical center built in Vernon Hills. Kondo was involved it, but wasn’t in a management position at that time.

• Generally, the machine-tool industry is much influenced by the boom-and-bust cycle. Takisawa was no exception; it was hit by the collapse of the bubble economy in Japan. The company decided to sell the building in Vernon Hills and continued its business in a rented office.

• Kondo was transferred to the U.S. in 1997 and oversaw the branch office, but he had to return to Japan in 2001 to become president of the headquarters.
• Amid the prolonged economic downturn, he embarked on the company’s reform. He had to do tearful layoffs to avoid wrecking operations. He recalled, “The first three years were very hard, and I was sometimes suffering from insomnia. But then things turned better in the fourth year.”

• During the 11 years of his presidency, he achieved his four goals. The first was reforming Takisawa as a non-debt company. The second was building a factory in China. The third was building the fourth factory, which belonged to the headquarters. The fourth was concentrating and closing overseas plants. He opened overseas affiliated companies in Thailand and Indonesia. On the other hand, he successfully sold a technical center in the U.K.

• He completed his four goals by the end of 2011 and thought, “I have nothing to do. What should I do for the next five to 10 years?”
• In his sense, Chicago was his second home, and he had many unforgettable memories. When he took a look at the sales of the American branch, they had decreased. While he understood that the economic downturn precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 was one of the reasons for its sales decline, it had to be improved. He also looked at the export data in the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association and found that the percentage of machine-tool exports to the U.S. was small. He was inspired and thought, “I want to do my business in the U.S. one more time!”

• Kondo soon took actions. He appointed Harada as president and obtained an approval from the company board. He thought that having the company’s own facility was necessary, so that the employees would have more pride. He said, “That’s why I built this facility. We’ll put our spirit in it.” He is confident to expand its sales volume to $50 million and then $60 million. He has already prepared enough office space for additional employees when $50-million sale is achieved.

• Takisawa’s headquarters in Japan has about 700 employees including affiliated companies. It might seem unusual that Kondo withdrew from the president’s position. Kondo, however, smiled and said, “I’m pleased to be here because I have only two dozen employees who fully understand my policy.”
• When he was president in Japan, conveying his policy to every employee was very hard. He divided the employees into nine groups and held a meeting with each group twice a year. After-five meetings lasted for three weeks, but he was delighted to know what ordinary employees thought about their company. “So, I’m enjoying talking with everyone here. I have to do everything, but I’m as excited as if I returned to many years ago.”

• Through his presidency, Kondo also experienced the greatness of competent personnel. “Now I wonder what I did during the company’s tough time. I feel that the company’s brains did everything,” he said.
• In the U.S., he believes that Takisawa, Inc.’s success relies on his employees’ power with its machines’ quality and after service. He said, “If they have difficulty with prices and delivery time, I negotiate about the problems with headquarters. My job is to help them to work easier.”
• He also believes that spending more and selling more is the best way rather than saving on expenses if the company projects the same profit. Kondo said, “Takisawa brand will prevail by selling many more products, and other customers may buy our products. In fact, our branches who sell more products make more profits.”


Opening ceremony


Yasumasa Kondo, President and CEO of Takisawa, Inc.,
North America’s headquarters and technical center



Takisawa's showroom in Schaumburg