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From Value One, Winter 2012-2013 No. 39
Metal One America, Inc.
Handling Everything from Sheet to Specialty Steel in North, Central, and South America
A Combination of Veterans' Experience and Young Staff's Energy
Metal One America, Inc. (MAI) is headquartered in Chicago, has six branches around the United States, and has an organization consisting of a dozen employees posted from Japan and some eighty national staff. Primarily handling trading in North, Central, and South America and a broad product range that includes everything from sheet to plate, wire rod, and specialty steel, MAI's annual business volume totals 1.3 million tonnes.
The atmosphere in the company is very good. For example, the national staff members come up with ideas such as coming to work each Friday in clothes that are a particular color. There are also many veteran salespeople among the national staff, but the number of younger employees, including me, has risen recently. I think that the company has an extremely good balance, combining veterans' experience and young employees' energy.
I mainly handle sheet for the construction industry, which above all fluctuates according to the economy. You may be thinking that orders were low up to the previous day, and then orders come flooding in the next day depending on changes in the economy, supply and demand, and the external environment. Housing starts are about half what they were at their peak due to the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the construction industry, but a gradual recovery is currently under way and has helped underpin the U.S. economy's rebound.
The question is how a Japanese trading firm like MAI can increase its earnings from this extraordinarily large industry. The trading business goes without saying, but we also hope to create core businesses that will continue over the medium to long term by thinking about our business from various angles, including investments in promising business partners.
A view of an exhibition

Football Is a Basis for Work?
Football is a popular sport in the United States. When you visit customers during the season, they immediately start talking about the most recent games. Many are such enthusiastic fans that there is no end to the conversation once they get going, to the extent that business discussions are nearly forgotten. When I visited a customer the other day, three key personnel told me about the teams they back while we were being introduced, but I was unable to remember the teams' names during the discussion, and ended up getting the names wrong. Apologizing quickly because I thought I had hurt their feelings, I was told jokingly with a smile that I would be forgiven if I bought a round of beers later. In addition to this enthusiasm for football, I believe that such immediate, magnanimous acceptance—no matter the ethnic group—forms the basis for superpower America.
Face to Face, Whether Gathering Information or Building Personal Contacts
The increase in opportunities to talk face to face with customers is the biggest change I have experienced since being posted to the United States. There is a confusing glut of information about market conditions that fluctuate daily, and it goes without saying that talking with customers who actually make and sell products is important to obtain accurate, beneficial information. I visit them individually to gather information in most cases and participate in exhibitions that draw representatives from throughout the industry several times a year.
These events vary from meetings that draw around a thousand steel industry representatives to construction industry representatives' gatherings, and serve as opportunities to meet many people and broaden my network, so I participate actively. There are also moments when I get an immediate sense that I am seeing how the U.S. steel market will change and where it is headed, and that I am indeed working in the United States.






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