Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No. 2: Renew the consciousness of the strength (November 22, 2010)

Japan’s oldest company is unquestionably Kongo Gumi (Congo Construction) in Osaka that was established in 578 (not in 1578). The company specializes in the construction of shrines and temples, and it was involved in the construction of Horyuji Temple in Nara built by Prince Shotoku in 607. It lost independence and became a group company of a larger construction company in 2005 because of the inability to tide over the worldwide financial crisis. Many major construction companies, which specialize in real-estate development and condominium construction, entered into the shrine and temple market one after another to get orders.
The president of this company thought seriously about the strength of his company and found that his company had a group of shrine carpenters and the excellent ability to process wood. He formed a team made up of young engineers and put it under his direct control to improve the company’s brand. He collected the team members from five divisions: construction, design, purchase, quantity survey, and sales. Master carpenters delivered lectures on the company’s history of some 1,400 years and expertise of shrine construction. For example, hand-finished wooden buildings have a completely flat surface that can repel water without paint application. The machine-finished wooden building last 100 years, but hand-finished wooden building can last as long as 300-600 years.
Equipped with this kind of expertise and confidence of its technology, salespeople are developing the market nationwide focusing on big shrines and temples that the company has traditionally been hesitate to develop. Actually, it was totally satisfied with orders from the shrine and temples in the neighboring prefecture. Salespeople are now courageous enough to take orders from head shrines and temples across the country. As the marketing area expands, they are accumulating information and knowledge with the help of information technology and successfully increasing presence in the market.
Kongo Gumi maintains current-account surplus. It achieved current profit of 150 million yen against sales of about 50 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 2010. The number of employees increased from 90 to 130 in the four years. Under the initiative of the president, employees are renewing the consciousness of the strength of their company quite rapidly. As the case of Kongo Gumi shows, reforming employees’ consciousness of what strength they have works well. In addition, the collaboration of the five divisions gives momentum to the company growth.

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