Mr. Hisatake Okumura, overseas senior GM, Krosaki Harima Corporation
“Mr. Hisatake okumura graduated from Meiji University. He joined Krosaki Harima Corporation in 2004. He has successively served as senior general manager of flow control refractories division, senior general manager of monolithic refractories division, corporate officer, general manager of production planning of refractory manufacturing division, senior general manager of overseas business division, and general manager of overseas business planning department. He was appointed as managing corporate officer of the company and senior general manager of overseas business division.”
Refwin: Would you please make a brief introduction to the development history of Krosaki Harima Corporation, as well as your current global business structure and achievements?
Mr. Okumura: For more than 100 years, the Krosaki Harima Corporation Group (KHC) has supported Japanese manufacturing, the very cornerstone of Japanese society, through the manufacture and sale of refractories to material industries such as the iron-and-steel industry. Additionally, KHC has explored new possibilities by advancing and promoting its heat related and ceramic technologies such as the innovative design and construction of high performance energy saving industrial furnaces, and the development and manufacturing of fine ceramics, which are essential in the cutting edge fields of the semi-conductor and electrical component industries.
Currently, KHC has associated companies located in China, India, Europe, and the U.S.A. KHC is providing its refractory technology and expertise not only in Japan, but also to customers around the world.
Refwin: What characteristics do you think Japanese refractory industry is different from other countries’? What are the Krosaki’s core competitiveness in Japanese market?
Mr. Okumura: The greatest attribute of the refractory industry in Japan is that refractories which are tailor-made in direct response to the specific demands and requirements of Japanese customers become gobal solutions to mainstream markets.
KHC is a subsidiary of Nippon Steel and, for a long time, has worked diligently as a refractory expert to solve the technological demands facing Nippon Steel. One of KHC’s greatest strengths is total refractory management that is based on refractory and furnace construction technologies that have been accumulated over the past 100 plus years. The KHC Group conducts “Kaizen” activities based on customer requests and attributes these activities to its customer’s safe and successful operations.
Refwin: What is the role of Chinese market in Krosaki’s future development strategy? Would you please introduce your business strategies for Chinese market as well as your phased achievements in China?
Mr. Okumura: Since the 1990s, the KHC Group has built up a strong organization that is producing and providing high-quality products at our facilities in China. After more than 30 years of sales activity in China, KHC’s global customer base continues to recognize the high value of products manufactured at its Chinese facilities. In the years to come, KHC will continue to contribute to Chinese customers by uniting the Group’s strengths.
<Manufacturing Base: 4 companies>
Wuxi Krosaki Sujia Refractories Co., LTD - Main products: MgO-C bricks, SG (Slide Gate), AG (Aluminum graphite)
YINGKOU KROSAKIHARIMA REFRACTORIES CO., LTD - Main products: MgO-C bricks, AMC bricks
TRL KROSAKI CHINA LTD - Main products: MgO-C bricks
Wuxi Krosaki Machinery - Main products: Mechanism
<Sales Base: one company>
Krosaki Harima (Shanghai) Enterprise Management Co., LTD - Sales Agent in China
Refwin: How do you see the through-out contract model for steel refractories in Chinese market? What measures have you taken to strengthen your competition in such business model in China?
Mr. Okumura: KHC is currently engaged with the through-out contract model. By focusing on the company’s strengths, high-value-added functional refractories, KHC hopes to expand the through-out contract business in China.
Refwin: What are the biggest challenges you are facing currently respectively in Japanese, Chinese and European markets? How do you overcome those difficulties?
Mr. Okumura: The biggest challenge is the decrease in refractory demand due to a decline in crude steel production in Japan. On the other hand, overseas markets (China, India, Southeast Asia, etc.) are expected to shift to high-grade steel and increase demand for high-value-added refractory on account of the advancement of the economy. Therefore, it is important to develop businesses in these regions.
Refwin: What do you think will be the developing trends of refractories industry in future? What will be the biggest challenge that this industry will face in coming 5 years?
Mr. Okumura: In terms of the future development trend of the refractory industry, KHC strongly considers the following four points:
1. Shift to high-grade steel due to economic advancement
2. Increased demand for high-performance and high-value-added refractories.
3. Localization to reduce long lead time and environmental impact (CO2 emissions) risk associated with long transport distances
4. Development and provision of environmentally friendly refractories, including the recycling of refractories
Refwin: How does Krosaki confront the challenges against global economy recession and pandemics? What do you think is the necessary characteristics that a global refractories supplier should have in such a situation?
Mr. Okumura: Refractories are essential for daily lives. Therefore, KHC has to supply refractories to customers even under global pandemic situations.
KHC has the responsibility to continuously produce refractories because refractories are key components in the supply chain for almost all products. It is necessary to achieve and maintain stable operation while taking measures against infection so that employees can work with peace of mind.
Refwin: We saw many cases of acquisition aiming at optimizing global resource layout (or global supply chains) and also digitalized upgrades issued by some giant refractories suppliers recent years. How do you see globalization and digitalization? What has Krosaki done on those two aspects?
Mr. Okumura: In order to further promote business, it is necessary to promote localization which produces and consumes locally.
We believe that digitization is essential for future growth.
Refwin: Do you think COVID-19 will intensify the acquisition and merger in coming years? Does Krosaki have such plan in future?
Mr. Okumura: Regardless of COVID-19, when a reliable partner is discovered, KHC intends to continue expanding its businesses through strategic alliances, including M&A.
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