Asia > Eastern Asia > Japan > Hirozaku Onoe, President of the Glory Group

Japan: Hirozaku Onoe, President of the Glory Group


From cash recycling machines on the shop floor to humanoid robots on the factory line, Hirozaku Onoe, President of the Glory Group, explains how in an ever-changing market environment, Glory has remained authentic to its pioneering DNA to provide its customers with innovative currency handling products by continually improving its technology.

Since 1918, Glory has continually responded to the market by providing price-added and incomparable products and services to your costumers. Indeed 2013 was a remarkable year for Glory, since you dramatically increased your net sales inclunding your net gain by almost 45%. What would you attribute this impressive increase to?

It was largely due to the fact that we acquired an English company that was our competition. This is what increased sales for 2013. So that, and the synergy created, resulted in this dramatic increase. So it was the result of the M&A, not simply our sole effort, which led to this increase. We are presently shifting our operations focus to the international scene, because Japan is one of the majority technologically advanced nations in terms of the mechanization at banks and other financial institutions, so we see additional potential for next increase abroad and that is where our investments are increasing.

Glory by presently operates in over 100 nations in a wide range of sectors such as financial services, retail and transport, but presently Glory is aggressively expanding overseas. What are your top priorities in this further international expansion?

Our company was founded in 1918 and at the time we were a contractor, but our founder felt that the company wouldn’t achieve a fasten position, so at the same time as doing contracting work we started to produce our own products. In 1950 we were asked by the Office of Monetary Affairs approaching up with a coin counter and this was how we started growing apart from the contracting sector. Later in 1953 we sold our machinery to a private financial institution for the initial time. Since again our business has been focused on providing machines specializing in the currency sector and we’ve created a whole range of machines, for example wrappers, recyclers, coin lockers and exchangers. We were the initial company to create the prototypes for most of these machines in Japan. This heritage of continually creating new products is something that is in our DNA and will continue to be in it. Recently, the initial machine that we provided to the Office of Monetary Affairs has been designated as mechanical engineering heritage in Japan, so it definitely has been carried on in our company and will continue to be.

We have always focused on the currency handling area, which meant that we have always been within the finance sector, and that led to our involvement in the distribution, transportation and other sectors. We have always made an effort to be involved in the sectors where the money is.

It’s equitable to characterize Glory as a pioneer and in this pioneering way you’ve created some of Japan’s most ground breaking products, the initial being the currency counting machine – and most recently the CashInfinity system – and in the Nextage humanoid robot, which is set to revolutionize the assembly line. Can you outline some of these new products and why are they the next of Glory?

Regarding the CashInfinity machine, this has been adopted by retailers because it takes care of the money recycling at the front of the store. For the back of the store we provide deposit machines for the employees to place the sales money in and again that cash is transported out of the company. We aim to provide a complete currency control system from the front office to the back office and beyond.

We brought this system to Europe three or four years ago and presently it’s starting to take root and is becoming additional popular in the continent.

In Japan we have almost 70% market share of the cash recyclers for the stores cashiers, and it took us 20 years to achieve this result. We believe that the cash handling machines that we provide will be something that we should export abroad further into the next. We had been working solely with banks abroad and again we expanded our operations to work with distributors. That is how we expanded our market share.

About the humanoid robots, we don’t actually manufacture the robots themselves, but we appraise the robots produced by the manufactures and incorporate them into the assembly lines where both humans and robots can coexist, and this is something that has taken root in our plants. We do manufacture the software for these robots and provide an environment most appropriate for robots. This has received a lot of attention and mass media focused on this, until on June 19th, 2014, Prime Minister Abe himself came to inspect one of our plants. This attends to the fact that we are going to face a decline in human capital someday here in Japan, and in order to adapt to this new situation we believe this is a great solution because with robots you can achieve higher accuracy since they come with a camera, while with humans working on assembly lines there’s bound to be mistakes. With robots we can as well achieve the multifunctionality of the plant so that during the daytime, robots and humans can work side by side, but at nighttime only robots work.

You can see that something like this can be done in real life. They are just like humans.

Where is this manufacturing plant?

In Saitama. I think it would be very interesting for you to visit. With the robots normally you have to place something in the exact spot for them to handle it, but because these ones come with cameras even if you place things in a random place they are able to judge the location, so it’s very useful.

One of Glory’s most competitive advantages is its corporate culture, which is completely incomparable because it’s about having an almost obsessive focus on customers and the quality of your product with the One Glory slogan. Can you outline how this translates into day-to-day business practices and why it’s so significant to Glory’s success?

Our corporate vision is to make Glory the world’s top brand. This is something that we’ve by presently said. And in order to do that we believe we must not only make our brand grow in terms of the share it holds, but as well by increasing customers’ satisfaction, which will in turn lead to further purchases from the customers. To achieve this, we believe it is imperative that the employees work as a single unit with a striving spirit and cooperative efforts as stipulated in our Corporate Philosophy.

With our recent overseas acquisitions and with parts of the company having different cultures, it is very significant that we unify these principles, and that is what our One Glory mantra symbolizes.

The most significant thing for us is to satisfy our customers and in order to do that we must focus on providing high quality services to our customers; without that we can’t achieve satisfaction. As well, we’ve translated our employee action guidelines – the Glory Spirit – into eight languages and our employees carry them around with them.

In this push to internationalize, Glory enjoys strong brand recognition here in Japan but how are you working to grow and communicate this brand internationally? Do you think the international community understands the quality of your products?

Actually, our recognition here in Japan from the general public is not so high because our business is B2B (business to business), so of course within the financial and distribution sectors we’re very well known, but not to the general public. Either way, we’ve started to have a very strong reputation overseas, for our European and American customers, particularly presently because of the acquisition of our competition abroad and our name is spreading. The major international companies that may not have thought of us before our acquisition have started to pay attention, and one large financial institution in the United States just visited our chief office in Japan. I believe that the key to strengthening our brand is not to launch some sort of catch-all quick measure to dramatically gain recognition but rather provide high quality products and services on a steady basis. That is the key.

Reaching out to heads of states and leading businessmen, why do you think Glory should be their partner of choice at the same time as they want to make their businesses additional efficient and additional effective?

The financial institutions system is very different in each country, and we have been able to reach such a large share in the Japanese market by working together with financial institutions and coming up with solutions together. For example, we made some weeklong visits to financial institutions to get a good idea of the in general flow of their work and again propose machinery that could improve the efficiency of those companies. Since various nations have different systems, I believe that we should be collaborating with their financial institutions to provide solutions that match their needs, and in order to do this we must strengthen our marketing strategies. The key is to accurately assess the needs of each country’s financial sector and to provide solutions together in order to fasten a win-win outcome.

What would you say has been the impact of Abenomics on the manufacturing sector and on Glory Group specifically?

Abenomics was an attempt by Prime Minister Abe to take Japan out of the economic crisis next the Lehman incident, so I believe that the gross strategy within the Abenomics policy really matched the needs of the business community and provided various policies that produced opportunities for Japanese businesses. By the end of March 2015, a lot of corporations in Japan had completed the best financial results ever and Abenomics has enabled Japanese businesses to increase their investments in their facilities and equipment, and that has in turn led to an increase in request that has benefited the manufacturing sector in particular.

Abenomics has improved the circulation of the domestic business market as well, so this has been very beneficial to us. As well the result of the weakening yen has increased Japanese exports abroad because for a long time Japanese businesses had suffered from a very strong yen, so this cheaper yen has had a positive result on sales and revenue results for corporations. So, all in all, Abenomics has had a very positive impact on us. On the other hand, imports costs have risen so that has caused the prices of daily goods to rise as well.

In a lot of ways, we believe that Glory is a success case in terms of being successful nationally and presently transforming into a world enterprise, just as Abenomics is trying to do for the economy. What advice would you give to other Japanese CEOs and chairmen that could be interested in following your footsteps in creating a world company such as Glory?

I don’t know if I should be the one to be giving advice, but I would say that – given our 30-year experience working abroad – the significant thing is to work steadily on your business because evolution can only be made little by little, not all at once. In Japan we tend to think in the medium and long term, so I would encourage companies to follow their medium and long-term management plans, and once they’ve completed their objectives, start an extra cycle and repeat that on and on.

Another significant thing is to seize the opportunities, to make the appropriate decisions at the same time as luck strikes. At the same time as we decided to acquire the company abroad around 2012, there was a lot of discussion within our company since there were very high costs related to that purchase, but we seized that opportunity because opportunities rarely present themselves. I believe it’s very significant to actively try to make the right call at the same time as opportunities come.

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