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From Asia to Latin America – Changing the World with Kubota’s Construction Machinery

Eriko Ogawa

Group 4, Sales and Marketing Department Construction Machinery Division Kubota Corporation

On experiencing a high regard for things made in Japan in South America

I majored in Spanish at university. While at school, I studied abroad in Peru for a year and had the opportunity to travel around South America. At each place that I visited, I heard many people talk about the high trust they put in Japanese goods. This experience led me to seek a position at a Japanese company manufacturing industrial goods that are loved around the world. From among many such products, construction machinery caught my attention, as I could easily relate construction machinery – playing an essential role in building a city and a nation – to the betterment of people’s lifestyles. I felt a strong sense of empathy with Kubota, as its mission of being of service to society was stated loudly and clearly.
After joining the company, I was assigned to the Construction Machinery Division, as I had hoped. I have been involved in the sale and marketing of construction machinery ever since. The Sales and Marketing Department, Construction Machinery Division, with which I am affiliated, has several groups dedicated to each market, and I had been working on major markets, including those in Japan, North America, and Europe. Now I belong to a team developing new markets beyond the three major markets. My current responsibilities are rather broad, ranging from Asian countries to Latin America and Africa.

The importance of taking action after comprehending the real intent of users

What I find particularly challenging in the Asian market, which is one of our priorities, is that the level of demand maturity differs significantly from country to country, in tandem with the scale and development level of each economy. Take India and Indonesia as examples. These countries are just getting into the full swing of developing social infrastructure and urban foundations. This being the case, what we need to do is to conduct low-profile but constant efforts to create demand, such as increasing recognition of Kubota’s construction machinery and providing local employees with sales and service training opportunities. In China, on the other hand, the market has been formed, and many of our daily activities need to be focused on figuring out how we should compete against other players. In order for us to survive the tough competition against rapid emerging Chinese local manufacturers, we need to come up with an optimal sales strategy by listening carefully to what the market really wants.
Having worked for various markets, I have come to realize the importance of trying to find what is really wanted. When I was in charge of the Chinese market, someone informed me that a need existed for 2-ton machines, which came in between 1.5- ton and 3.5-ton machines in our selection. Because it was a segment that no other competitor was addressing, people in my company were rather skeptical about the information. So, I visited China to hear what our customers had to say about the idea, in order to determine its business feasibility. After the most persistent efforts to find out the real intent of our customers, we were able to conclude that 2-ton machines had a latent market in China. We then explained to relevant departments what our customers were looking for, and we eventually saw the launch of 2-ton machines. I am happy to say that our 2-ton machines have since won favor with many customers in the Chinese market. This experience of thinking over what our customers really wanted helped me to form my basic approach as a Kubota person.

Assisting in the success of the Construction Machinery Conference in Asia – A fulfilling and selfenlightening experience

Working as a staff member of the Construction Machinery Conference in Asia was another experience that left a strong impression on me. Held in Seoul, South Korea, it was a huge gathering attended by 28 persons from 11 dealers and distributors in the Asia-Pacific region. I was engaged with every single task for the conference – planning the event, coordinating schedules for the participants, preparing materials and documents, and translating at the conference. The conference proved to be a resounding success, and I was able to sense the participants’ determination to make use of Kubota’s construction machinery for extensive social services, as well as the simple desire to expand sales of construction machinery. As I worked as a member of the conference organization team and got to know many persons, I came away from the experience feeling fulfilled and awed by the amount of my own self-growth.
Today, I have a small child and I am working a reduced schedule, and so my main responsibility is to support other members of the team, rather than traveling around the world as I did in the past. Above all, development of younger employees is a personal mission of mine that I need to fulfill. For them to grow, they need plenty of relevant experiences, a vision of a goal they want to reach, and a sense of purpose. To assist them in this regard, I will try to make it easy for them to take on various challenges, so that I can support their growth with a full understanding of their aspirations. Once my child is grown, I wish to return to the front line. When that happens, I would be truly delighted if I could work toward the development of the Latin American market, where everything started for me.

  • Dealers and distributors from the Asia-Pacific region at the Construction Machinery Conference in Asia (Eriko Ogawa: the fourth from the right in the back row)

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