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Introduction of Group Companies
Value One Summer 2007 No.17
Asami Steel Corporation has been in business for 83 years and is the Metal One Group's only coil center in the Kansai area. Kunio Hirose, president and CEO, has a wealth of experience in coil center operations and has been carrying out sweeping management reforms since being named president.
Aggressive Investments in Rationalization and Boosted Efficiency

Asami Steel is a venerable Kansai region coil center, with this year marking the 83rd year since its founding. Seishichi Asami founded the company in 1924 as a steel business intermediary. The business was temporarily shut down during World War II but was reestablished as Asami Shoko Corporation in 1947. A plant was later built in Daito, Osaka Prefecture, in 1963, and the current Kadoma headquarters plant was built in 1969, creating a two-plant system. The former Nissho Iwai (now Sojitz) invested in the company in 1993 and has been sending over presidents ever since. The Daito Plant was sold in 2002, and headquarters and factory operations were consolidated in the Kadoma Plant.

President Hirose, who served successively as president of a coil center within the Isuzu group and Ryowa Steel Corporation (now Metal One Ryowa Corporation), became president of this historical company last year. President Hirose was given the task of restructuring the company's management. To start with, the company changed its name from Asami Shoko Corporation to Asami Steel Corporation in January 2007. Also, the plant's layout was broadly altered, and investments in rationalization and enhanced efficiency were aggressively carried out.

Specifically, in addition to relocating a large leveler and newly installing a 22-tonne crane to streamline the plant's formerly complicated distribution flow from the materials yard to the processing facilities and product storage area, the aging factory building was partially refurbished. Furthermore, there are plans to make a distinct change in the layout by November of this year. Roughly 200 million will be invested in total. The aim is to increase manufacturing efficiency not by boosting the facilities' capacity but by promoting laborsaving efforts. Asami Steel's current annual output is around 70,000 tonnes. Sales are mainly to construction steel, steel furniture, and agricultural and electrical machinery sectors, with a large volume of retail outlet sales being another distinguishing characteristic.

Hirose says, "I kept Asami in the company name to retain brand recognition but swept away the old structure. Employees' attitudes have also changed quite a bit recently." His belief is that investments should be made in the plant. Investments are steadily proceeding under the philosophy that automation and rationalization generate strong competitiveness.

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