In October of 2010, two of Japan’s major logistics service provider with long history and rich profiles, Yusen Air & Sea Co., Ltd and NYK Logistics, merged into one logistics giant. The inauguration of Yusen Logistics was the combination of two economics-driving forces, who strengths complemented each other’s. With its presence in over 300 cities in 42 countries around the world, Yusen Logistics’ network covers every continent along with its economic zones, and serves the world with complete logistics solutions. Thailand is another country where Yusen Logistics’ presence have been prominent for almost 50 years, even before the inauguration. It can be stated at Yusen Logistics has always been in Thailand, and at the center of the emerging ASEAN community and economics, from the very start. Today Yusen Logistics is equipped with a strong global network, a new office in the heart of Bangkok, and a new President.
This issue of LM had the pleasure to introduce to our reader to Mr. Susumu Tanaka, Yusen Logistics’ President and Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Hiroshi Maniwa, his predecessor and present Director of South Asia and Oceania Region.
Mr. Tanaka told us about his start with the NYK group, “I was hired to work in NYK Line back in 1982 in Tokyo. I have been working with NYK Group in transportation for 34 years now. Since I’ve joined NYK, I’ve moved around to many places. I started in Kobe before spending 1 year in New York as a trainee.” Mr. Tanaka mentioned how his start in Kobe allowed him to gain hands on experience working on site with the port and vessel, which is termed in Japanese as ‘Genba’. The concept stays with him throughout his career path with NYK where he had the chance to work in many different sections of logistics work. “Most of other Japanese logistics companies will put its staff on one job for a long time to gain skills. In NYK’s case, however, every 3 or 5 years staffs are moved around to different functions, internally. Nonetheless, my case has also been strange for an NYK staff. I’ve been doing 10 years at a container business, and 20 years in the car carrier business. In my last 4 years, I’ve been in the tanker business, and now I’m here.” Yusen Logistics Thailand provides multimodal logistics services and complete supply chain solutions for both international and domestic destinations. With its branches and regional offices, Yusen Logistics is one of Asia’s biggest and most complete logistics service providers. Hence his extensive experience, Mr. Tanaka said his new post in Bangkok is not only a career field challenge, but also a business culture challenge. “I’ve devoted most of time to the transportation business, mostly to the shipping part. This is my first time living and working in Thailand, as well as my first time in this business field within logistics. This is also the biggest organization I’ve ever led in my career. Before I came to Thailand, I was managing NYK bulk ship in Singapore. There were only 20 staff in the office. Here in Bangkok, there are 4,000 staff, and 1,100 alone are already in this new office.”
Regardless of the challenges, Mr. Tanaka keeps a positive outlook with his new duties and teams. Yusen Logistics and both of its parent companies are very well established in Thailand, which leads to Yusen Logistics being equipped with strong teams and workforce. Mr. Tanaka said, “Looking at the history of this company in Thailand, it has been operating for 47 years in Thailand as a Thai entity, and not as a foreign-affiliated company. Especially in the last 2 decades, the company has been quite a growth. Our revenue has grown from 1.6 billion Thai Baht to 7.2 billion Thai Baht. We have a strong foundation, but we have to maintain our strength and find new challenges to stay on top. We can’t stay still.”
We have a strong foundation, but we have to maintain our strength and find new challenges to stay on top. We can’t stay still.
Mr. Susumu Tanaka, President and CEO of Yusen Logistics (Thailand)
Mr. Tanaka’s processor, Mr. Hiroshi Maniwa, who is now South Asia and Oceania Regional Director stationed in Singapore, joined the conversation. Mr. Maniwa spoke about his new post and the overall goal of Yusen Logistics in Asia, “At the moment, our division is called the South Asia and Oceania Regional Headquarter. Thailand is one of the 14 countries in this territory. In the region, we are producing about $800 million in revenue, but it is my mission to double the size of this revenue, which equals $1.6 billion in 3 years’ time. That is our target. The big portion of this growth target, we have to rely on Thailand and Malaysia. These countries are our two biggest markets.” As the predecessor of the post, Mr. Maniwa has words of advice and suggestions for the Thai Yusen Logistics on what approach is suitable for a logistics giant to grow even further. “I have many advice, but I’d like to respect Mr. Tanaka’s idea first. This is because the Thai Yusen Logistics is already one of Asia’s biggest carriers. This means it is very difficult to grow further. I would support Mr. Tanaka by suggesting on what approach to take when it comes to growing. We should not grow organically because that means we’re growing with the market size, which is not a lot of growth in percentage. Our current goal is to be the number 1 international logistics company in both the world and Asia. In order to achieve this goal, we need to make big investment like an acquisition and so on.” Mr. Maniwa went on to explain further a necessary change of mindset on how the Yusen Asian country offices should start to adopt. It is to face the fierce competition head-on, and adapt more aggressive and upfront sales strategies, “This is a character of not only Thailand, but of all Asia. We don’t have aggressive sales strategies. If we have received any new account, it would be because we have won a bit. We like to wait for a chance, but I like it better when the sales staff reach out to the customers in order to get their business. The market we are in is getting bigger, but growing organically will only allow the pie to get bigger, while our market sales percentage gets smaller. This means that we have to eat our competitors’ pie in order to grow. This is an aggressive sales strategy. We need to adopt such concept from now on.”
Our current goal is to be the number 1 international logistics company in both the world and Asia. In order to achieve this goal, we need to make big investment like an acquisition and so on
Mr. Hiroshi Maniwa, Director of South Asia and Oceania Region, Yusen Logistics (Singapore)
For Mr. Tanaka, adapting an aggressive sales strategy is among one of the things his predecessor and he can agree on, “We have competitions everywhere. What I’m trying to say is that we have to compete. We have to improve, introduce innovations, and provide new solutions to customers. Only then can we expand our business. We can’t do business if we’re afraid of competition.”
As a new comer for both Bangkok and a total logistics service provider field, Mr. Susumu Tanaka has an open mind to learn and share his experience with his new team of staff, “My first message to my new staff in Bangkok was that; my door is always open. They can come to me whenever they want, and I, too, have to go out to them. There should be no wall between the management and the staff. We should be able to discuss any problem because a top-down style of management is something I cannot do. From my experience, I have a lot I can teach and share with my staff. I have a lot of experience in international business because I’ve lived and worked in many places. However, I have to learn a lot of things from our staff here about business in Thailand. They will also help educate me.”