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06
Sales Network Supporting Myanmar's Farmhouses

Moving Forward Hand in Hand with KUBOTA

Good Brothers

When we told Manager U Aung Naing Oo, “It's wonderful that those five brothers, including your father, started this kind of business,” he replied with a smile and said, “That's why we call ourselves ‘Good Brothers.’”

After our enlightening visits to AMD and its Agricultural Mechanization Stations, we made our way back to Yangon to visit two dealers who work for SKC in Thailand. In Myanmar, foreignaffiliated companies are not allowed to sell directly, as the government hopes to nurture the country's domestic businesses. Such being the case, SKC now operates about a dozen authorized dealers in Myanmar.

Our first destination was Good Brothers' Co., Ltd. (GB), the largest player in Myanmar. Five brothers from a farmhouse founded the company in 1991 to benefit the farmers in the area. Now, their children are working on the front lines of the business. Manager U Aung Naing Oo from the Planning & Development Department and Brand Manager U Kyaw Soe, who serves as a contact for KUBOTA, were there to welcome us.

The first thing that U Aung Naing Oo told us was that “GB works for farmhouses.” While also shooting for corporate goals, including promotion of agricultural mechanization, they are very active in making donations to local schools and organizing educational seminars for farmhouses. “It's natural to support people in our hometown,” he proudly asserted.

GB has 15 branches, 17 showrooms, and two factories in Myanmar. They deal in everything related to agricultural machinery, and are considered the leading player in the market. They run three showrooms dedicated to KUBOTA machines in Yangon and elsewhere, and are building two more in Naypyidaw and another location.

When we asked the Brand Manager how KUBOTA's sales were trending, we were told that tractors, combine harvesters, and diesel engines had all been showing significant growth over the past year.

GB first dealt in KUBOTA's tillers in 2010, followed by tractors and combine harvesters in 2012. He said that all they had to do to communicate the beauty of KUBOTA machines was to provide demonstrations.

We then heard this unexpected comment.

“I knew about KUBOTA from my father, who told me what KUBOTA's pumps did for farmers half a century ago. I also knew about KUBOTA's agricultural machinery, and I had long wanted to deal in KUBOTA.”

Introduced as part of the technological assistance scheme in the 1960s, stories of KUBOTA-branded products have been handed down to these young persons. Their faces exuded confidence as they dealt in the brand that they had long yearned for.

Since they are the ones who sell agricultural machinery, we then asked them about their outlook on the future of agriculture in the country.

“We have been relying on “push” sales, meaning that we push farmers to buy from us, but now we need to switch to “pull” sales. We hope to show farmers how they can sell farm produce at a higher price,” said U Aung Naing Oo. He also wants to help farmers to earn more by raising the quality of local farm products to a world level. GB never forgets about the farmers.

General Manager Yuji Matsushima of KUBOTA Corporation’s Yangon Branch (right) speaks with Brand Manager U Kyaw Soe (left), KUBOTA's contact at Good Brothers’ Co., Ltd.
New KUBOTA machines lined up in front of their showroom

PHAN TEE SHIN

The next dealer we visited was Phan Tee Shin. Dealing mostly in KUBOTAbranded products, they are the second largest KUBOTA dealer in Myanmar after GB. We spoke with Daw Mya Mya Than, the head of the company. The group owns five sales outlets in the country. “Here, we deal in the entire KUBOTA catalog. The top sellers are combine harvesters. ‘KUBOTA for harvesting’ has become a kind of mantra with us.” Sales of both tractors and combine harvesters from KUBOTA are growing steadily here, with the demand for combine harvesters having increased sharply from the previous year. “At our stores, we pay extra attention to inventory so that we can ship service parts upon request,” she explained with pride. “If KUBOTA can teach us how to use machines properly, we will be able to prevent many failure cases,” she continued. Because people in Myanmar are not used to tractors, they often break them by pushing the machines beyond their limits. She shared her unique opinions based on the stories of her farmer customers, with whom she meets daily to listen to what they have to say.

KUBOTA Contributing to Myanmar's Development

Daw Mya Mya Than
The head of Phan Tee Shin

Having visited AMD and its Agricultural Mechanization Stations, farmhouses, and dealers, we were made to realize that people in Myanmar have extraordinarily high expectations for KUBOTA. Nevertheless, they also pointed out some issues, one of them being prices. General Manager Yuji Matsushima, one of the members who established KUBOTA's Yangon Branch two years ago, shared his thoughts on the current situation with us.

“I believe that, first and foremost, we need to put more resources into maintenance services and open workshops, so that we can build a system for prompt service parts supply. The bottom line here is to gain customer satisfaction, namely, by letting them know that we care,” he told us confidently.

Matsushima has been involved with Myanmar for 35 years. In 1981, he first set foot in the country as a member of a trading company on assignment for a project by an auto manufacturer. In the following year, he began working with KUBOTA as well, and was involved in the establishment of a foundry in Sinde and an irrigation project. A turning point came with the military coup in 1988. He relocated temporarily to Thailand, and now has many anecdotes to tell of his unique adventures.

“While I was in Thailand for two and a half years, I had the pleasure of seeing some people of Myanmar who moved to Thailand amid the prodemocracy uprising as I once did. I often volunteered to support them as a friend.”

Service parts for KUBOTA machines fill the shelves at Phan Tee Shin.
KUBOTA's billboard on the main road to the Yangon International Airport

More than ten years passed and, by a twist of fate, Matsushima ended up joining KUBOTA in 2011 to once again journey to Myanmar.

“Even when contacting them after such a long interval, they still remembered the days that we spent in Thailand. This time, they helped me to make appointments with the people I wanted to meet and to arrange transportation, which helped me significantly.”

Matsushima's current responsibility is to conduct marketing surveys on the agricultural environment in Myanmar. He picks up on market trends and people's needs here and reports back to SKC and KUBOTA Corporation in Japan. One of his important jobs is a demonstration that he gives in conjunction with SKC. Here again, Matsushima shares another interesting story.

It was in 2012 when he was preparing for a tractor demonstration in the capital city of Naypyidaw. He told government officials that he would like to have the presence of a minister-class officer. To his great surprise, he was told that President U Thein Sein himself would be happy to attend.

“The demonstration started as early as six o'clock in the morning, yet the President came out just to see the demonstration. He even consulted with us and asked us questions like, ‘Do you have any small combine harvesters?’” Matsushima informed us with a smile. The President's attendance at the event was covered in TV reports and newspapers throughout the country. Coincidentally, KUBOTA was working on a test model of a small combine harvester, which made its triumphant debut at the demonstration in the following year to garner considerable acclaim.

Matsushima shared his views on the future of agriculture in Myanmar with us.

“I regret to say this, but rice grown in Myanmar is not of top quality. No matter how much production is mechanized, there still remain other issues, such as polishing, distribution, and storage, and this is where we need to improve. Another thing that they might want to do is add value to farm produce. Rather than exporting them as they are, they can process rice to make rice crackers or rice cake before export. That way, they can expect to sell their rice at a higher price.”

Matsushima went on to map out the potential future of Myanmar and KUBOTA, wondering if KUBOTA's technology and networks might tap into even more diverse opportunities.

As “Asia's last frontier,” Myanmar has just started moving. Their economy may have made a late start, but, as some economists say, they might have a “latecomer advantage.” For them to keep growing, it is essential to develop infrastructure for industry, living, and the environment, and this is where KUBOTA's proprietary technology in “food, water, and the environment” truly speaks volumes.

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