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Introduction of Group Companies
Otofuji Corporation
From Value One Summer 2004 No. 5
Otofuji celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation this year. The company handles close to 1.5 million different products, counts more than 2,000 companies as customers, and is forging ahead based on its vast know-how obtained through direct purchasing and direct sales.
From Kure's Otofuji to a Global Otofuji

Otofuji was born in 1954 in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture, as a wholesaler of piping equipment. To fill demand from the petroleum plant industry - mainly petrochemical complexes - the company began a nationwide expansion from around 1961, and in 1967 it established an office in Tokyo. In 1982, to strengthen its trading company functions, it obtained capital participation from Mitsubishi Corporation. Currently, as a 100%-owned Metal One subsidiary, the company has branches, offices and distribution centers in 20 locations across the country, and is pursuing further expansion while cooperating with Metal One Tubular Products Department.

Yoshio Yanai, who was named president of the company in October 2002, toured all the company's plants and listened to employees' and business partners' views about Otofuji. He says, "Everybody had the impression of a tenacious and dedicated corporate structure. I believe that the fact that we deal directly with customers through direct purchasing and direct sales has allowed us to develop such a wonderful corporate structure."

Otofuji is pressing ahead with various projects for its next 50 years. One of these is the introduction of a new personnel system introduced last April. This system is built on a philosophy of easy-to-understand evaluations and results, and full adoption is planned after a 3-year trial period. In addition to encouraging a highly transparent management style, this new system seems to be motivating employees.

Furthermore, in addition to the resumption of hiring new employees in Tokyo since last year with the aim of securing excellent human resources and expanding operations throughout the world, the company is also signing up foreign employees as it seeks to expand global operations. In the words of President Yanai: "As users compete on a global basis, demands from users in the pipe industry are growing increasingly diverse. It is crucial for us to have a broader perspective and the ability to take action in order to respond to these demands."

The biggest issue regarding the handling of steel tubes and pipe-laying is the huge number of items the company deals with. For this reason, Otofuji introduced the FACOM203-25 system in 1969 as a first step toward a computerized system. At present, the company has close to 1.5 million product codes, and is building its 6th-generation system for managing these codes, which it has started using from July, as part of its approach to launching one initiative after the other in the next 50 years.

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