Industry overview with Yokohama Tire’s Hamaya
Question: How is Yokohama doing globally?
Hamaya: Fortunately, Yokohama is pretty strong in the Japanese domestic market. We’re established, but the competition continues to grow, so we’re looking for new opportunities elsewhere, like China, India, Russia, Europe…and the U.S. We look at the U.S. market as a prime opportunity because we haven’t hit our lofty goals here yet, so we’ll be sourcing more products from our recently-expanded factories in the Philippines. They are currently producing about seven million tires a year. We are excited about boosting production by another 10 million tires by 2017, and the majority of these will come to the U.S.
Hopefully, we won’t just be relying on production from the Philippines to get more tires as part of our new supply source strategy. We’d like to add even more new products and sources for the U.S. Then we’d also have the flexibility for more OE fitments and inventory control. Reducing inventory will give us a better financial position. Most recently, lower-than-expected costs of raw materials have also benefitted our financial position.
Question: Isn’t inventory reduction what your customers are doing as well?
Hamaya: Yes, the key to “just in time” inventory management – whether on the dealer customer or manufacturer side – is to make sure that you have the right product, in the right size, at the right time. If you don’t, that’s a lost opportunity and sale. It’s a challenge, but Yokohama is committed to doing it well to provide a positive impact to our customer’s and our own bottom line.
Question: Does Yokohama have a new inventory control system?
Hamaya: Yes, and it’s unique to Yokohama. It allows us to control our production based on sales, which makes it more efficient, direct and customer friendly.
Question: We’ve talked about your technology resources and production resources. How about human resources? How do you see those changing going forward?
Hamaya: Internally, all departments need to be more sales-focused. We’ll link other departments to sales so more information and new ideas will flow. It’s like running on all cylinders – all the departments will communicate and collaborate on new ideas and strategies.