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What it takes to be a good company in Japan?

Company's motto
Company’s motto: “Let’s make a good company!”

There is a company in Japan with the motto, “Let’s make a good company.”  It’s so simple a child can understand it, but what exactly comprises a “good company?”  The explanation continues thusly.

A good company is not found in performance related numbers, but in a company about which every one of the people around it say “this is a good company.”   When we say “good company” we imagine an honor student among companies, that boasts of high profits and uses advanced technology, but within the expression “good company” is contained the same fellow feeling that exists in “he’s a good person.”  And atop of the list of “every one of the people around it” is the employees of the company.  The employees themselves will reflect the happiness they feel at belonging to such a company.

Ina Food Industry located in Ina City in Nagano Prefecture has an 80% share of the market in Japan for agar, a traditional gelatin product derived from seaweed.  Growth in both revenue and profit has been continuous over 48 years, and it’s considered an ‘honor student’ among companies with ratio of profit to sales of over 10%.  But the company is more proud of the fact that Ina’s chairman has continued to give his employees raises in salary and bonus over the past 48 years, without resorting to restructuring. 

Under current economic conditions, a majority of companies are laying off hakken shain temporary employees, part-timers, and once that leads to a dead end, offering early retirement to full-fledged employees, or cutting wages.  This type of management is wrong.  Small businesses have not, and will not, engage in employee restructuring.  The reason is that for small businesses, labor expense is not a cost.  Labor expense is the cost of living that is required to realize employee happiness.  Who says this, but Ina Food chairman, Hiroshi Tsukakoshi.