The frog project had another difficult problem besides the dispatch of
a resident staff to HSA. That was :
|In order to fulfill the smooth entry of the frogs (Mn-rail) to North-American
market, the followings are indispensable.
1. To have a customer-service factory somewhere in North America for any
troubles or complaints from the customers.
2. To be able to have a quick and thorough response to any individual request
of each railway company.
In the result of field survey by the two around the U.S, the 8 samurais
decided to have a tie-up with either of the two local assembly factories.
They were the Cincinnati Plant of L. B. Foster Co. (LBF) and the Franklin
Plant of Abex Corp. (ABX).
LBF in Cincinnati, Ohio, was introduced by Purchase Manager Kynan of Chessie System, giving careful consideration to Miwasaki's worry. According to him, Chessie was contracting out the detailed work relating to rail-crossing parts to LBF.
He wrote the invitation letter of Miwasaki to Bob Cattura, Sales Manager
The friendship between Manager Kynan and Miwasaki began by chance, going
back as follows.
Kynan was the senior graduate from the same university Penn State with
Miwasaki, and had master's degree of management. Miwasaki happened to notice
it at the visit to him after several times.
When he got into Kynan's office, he found two nostalgic photographs on
the wall. He unconsciously stared at them in wonder, and pointing them
out, let slip, "Isn't this Old Main of Penn State? And this picture
is Nittany Lion, I'm sure !"
Miwasaki could not have forgotten about the appearance of that auditorium.
At its entrance, there used to be a large student assembly where his friend
Marco Singus had a big speech on the stage.
The lion's stone statue in the next picture was the symbol of Penn State.
Looking bewildered, Manager Kynan asked him,
"Why do you know them?"
Miwasaki answered clearly,
"Because I stayed there one year as a student."
The relationship between Manager Kynan and Miwasaki became not only of
business at the moment.
The other assembly plant that Steel Casting Division wanted to have a tie-up
with was ABX (Franklin Plant of Abex Corp.) near Indianapolis City, Indiana.
With the strong request of Tonda, Division Manager, Ichie Trading found
this plant through Southern Pacific Railway, its customer in the West Coast.
Miwasaki of sales and Wabuka of technology visited both factories several
times, confirmed their will of a tie-up, and weighed them based on the
needs of Hayatama Steel.
Eagerness to tie-up, sales attitude, factory scale, technology level, reliability,
geographical priority, ..... Almost impossible to decide which in everything.
Miwasaki was in favor of LBF the ability of which Manager Kynan of Chessie
System accepted, but not more than that. Honestly he and Wabuka proceeded
their investigation only for the solution of physical obstacles blocking
their entry to North America.
Therefore, Miwasaki had not thought most of the other important business
factors like a distribution channel. In the result, no trading company
was yet involved in the case of LBF, but he never wanted to be bothered
with direct business.
The advantage of ABX would be clear if another important business factor
was added to the solution of physical obstacles. That is, Ichie Trading
itself was familiar with the situation in North America, and also active
So, it was logical and natural that Emperor Tonda made a decision of preference
as "Tie-up with ABX through Ichie Trading."
Miwasaki received Tonda's decision as the Revelation from Heaven. He felt
relieved at heart and made up his mind to go with ABX.
Wabuka, as he knew Tonda's intention quite well, followed it frankly as
a reasonable judgement.
Side by side with such activities in Steel Casting Division, the whole
company of Hayatama was proceeding the widening plan of Hayatama Steel
America (HSA) in New York which started 2 years before. It included "the
addition of one staff in charge of sales."
Emperor Tonda had the considerable spirit in pushing ahead with the entry
of Mn-rail into North America by allocating Miwasaki for the personnel.
He must have thought, "If I lost this chance, my division might collapse
and no hope of myself."
He talked to most of the executives, mentioning late Udono who had died
in the last autumn, saying, "It is the last will of the Executive
Director", and was about to get their consent.
Another strong help must have been the large-scale order from Polish National
Railway and good delivery situation.
In order to change the company's absolute policy "Sales personnel
has to be only from Steel Rolling Division", Tonda claimed them by
all possible means, saying, "Miwasaki is surely capable. During a
half year period of preparation before the dispatch, he will master what
is wanted. I promise the work for Steel Casting Division will be his side
It was lucky for Tonda and the division that there was no candidate with
a wish to be dispatched to HSA in Steel Rolling Division.
"Transfer of a sales personnel from Steel Casting Division to HSA."
For making sure the real intent of the above strong request pushed through
by Tonda, Minabe of Investigation Dept., as a person in charge of the future
plan of HSA, decided to question Miwasaki about what was going on in Steel
Casting Division in detail. Minabe was just promoted to Director.
He called Miwasaki to his office.
Two fellows, related to HSA, joined the meeting.
One was Inami, former Manager of New York Office. He was in this department
as a secretariat of the overseas strategy. He was the same entry to the
company with Miwasaki.
Another fellow was Nachi. He was going to leave for HSA as a personnel
in charge of general affairs and president secretary. He was several years
younger than Miwasaki.
Both of them regarded Miwasaki as an additional sales personnel, since
Shirahama, President of HSA, seemed to have accepted it.
Minabe and Inami asked Miwasaki with this way and that about the certainty
of "The proposal for the entry of Mn-rail into North America"
written by Miwasaki as the consensus of 8 samurais and guaranteed by Emperor
Miwasaki never missed the chance to make a passionate answer.
They all agreed in the idea that the tie-up with an assembly factory in the field of North America was the key to success. But concerning the point that the factory had to be ABX through Ichie Trading, two of them made their attitude clear as "Against it flatly."
"Since you are going to work for HSA, dealing with the business of
steel-casting frogs in North America, the intention of HSA has to be reflected
in everything including the distribution channel."
They unanimously insisted it.
The prospective partner was still blank on their side, even if Tonda declared
in his division which side was a winner.
Additionally according to them, Shirahama, President of HSA, was claiming
that the intervention of a trading company in this business was not necessary
because of the existence of HSA itself.
Miwasaki's idea wavered out of a sheer desire to be dispatched there himself.
If it became a direct business, he would have extra troubles. But he did
not want to make waves with HSA for a while.
He decided to leave the matter out of himself, because he just told Investigation
Manager the things as they were. He had an optimistic hope that after the
discussion among the people involved including Minabe and Division Manager
Tonda, some suitable conclusion would be made.
HSA had a clear reason to stick to the direct business and to reject the
intervention of a trading company about the prospective business developed
in North America by the tie-up with an assembly factory in the field.
Their main business of steel rollings was all through trading companies.
What they were doing mostly was to take complaints of customers. It meant
that HSA would not get much profit in the future, either.
On the other hand, in the result of the change from New York Office to
the corporate, HSA naturally had a purpose for profit and actually submitted
its profit plan to New York City.
The submission of the plan was obligatory, and if non-profitable every
year, it would be difficult to continue to exist.
The profit plan HSA submitted at its opening was naturally optimistic, not to say as irresponsible as "let it be." It did not have any concrete objective like pie in the sky.
Inami, the secretariat of overseas strategy, talked in a self-mocking way,
"It is such an uncertain plan that something good would happen in
A planner often puts blame on an action force, saying "Their way to
act was poor." But it could not be applied to the case of HSA. Because
both plan and action were going to be done by the same people like "birds
of a feather", all of them had to take blame for any failure compared
with an optimistic plan depending on the result.
At such a time, they happened to encounter a lucky chance.
They must have elaborately read "The proposal for the entry of Mn-rail into North America" written by Miwasaki, and closely discussed among them how it would contribute to HSA. Then they called Miwasaki and made questioning skillfully.
"You may be worried, but President Shirahama is familiar with the
detailed situation there and we will do our best to back you up."
Minabe, General Manager of the Dept., finally said so in an assured manner,
with a sweet voice to Miwasaki weak to a sweet voice.
It triggered various dispute among related people and among board members:
Which distribution channel should the frog project choose, ABX through
Ichie Trading or LBF by direct business?
Both concerned, Tonda and Minabe, were called by the president of the company
and asked about "What and how is it going on?" The answers of
each opponent were opposite as a matter of fact.
However about the dispatch of Miwasaki to HSA, both sides agreed strongly
with each other. The personnel matter "Change of a person in charge
of sales and increase of another" got off to a start before the solution
of the problem.
In the result, Miwasaki's transfer to take over Iwashiro's work at HSA
was decided. He was bound to be in charge of the business of steel rollings
and the market development of steel castings in North America.
Another personnel had been decided to be Nagashima, for promoting steel
forgings to the industry of oil-drilling in the United States.
The steel forgings used to be produced in Tsukiji Plant while Miwasaki
was working there, but when Hayatama Steel merged with Shimozu Steel, the
productin process moved to Shibukawa Plant, which was Shimozu's main forging
plant. And after years, Hayatama made so-called the 3-company merger with
Nanki Special Steel and Kamikura Steel. At that time, the forging process
of Nanki brought together to Shibukawa Plant, and it began to put its strength
on forging products next to steel rollings.
In such a situation, the executives judged to emphasize the overseas sales
of steel forgings, because they were inevitable parts for oil-drilling
machines and seawater desalination machines. Moreover, the strengthened
Steel Forging Division of Hayatama had experienced considerably to make
such parts for large-scale international projects. It also had quite a
few records of export as single items.
Nagashima, appointed as another sales person, used to work with Nanki Special
Steel, and now in charge of steel-forging sales.
Since he was positive and familiar with both forging and rolling in knowledge
and technology, he woud have been the right person for the job. He was
bound to open Houston Office of HSA.
After receiving a letter of appointment, two of them took special training
at the major plants including Shibukawa Plant of steel forgings totally
for half a year, and left for the United States in February, 1983.
|- - - - - - - - - - -
The above is what happened around Miwasaki for six and a half years since he had been transferred to Steel Casting Sales Dept. at Tokyo Branch in 1976.
There is one thing that was deliberately avoided. It has to be referred
to now in order to pass the baton to the following stage. The story goes
back to the days when he was transferred.
For Miwasaki, his transfer to Steel Casting Sales Dept. was realized by
his pleading with his boss Tawara and the people involved after a series
of setbacks. But how was it taken on the receiver's side?
Steel Casting Division had changed a lot during Miwasaki's absence.
First of all, both its Tsukiji Plant and Sales Dept. were not the same
with ten years before. Most of the people now at the production sites,
sales, management, ..... were new to him.
The production of steel forgings had been brought together to Shibukawa
Plant, Gunma Pref. when Hayatama merged with Shimozu Steel, and then Tsukiji
Plant became only for steel castings. Instead, Kiso-fukushima Plant of
shell-mold castings came to be under control of Steel Casting Division.
Assistant Plant Manager Shimozato, a go-between of Miwasaki, died suddenly
of lung cancer, and the Plant Manager, a mahjong master, was gone to a
Now, this small division was wholely controlled by Emperor Tonda, just
promoted to Director.
Plant Manager, General Manager of Sales Dept. and other main posts were
occupied by Tonda's friends or favorites in the division or taken from
other divisions. Therefore it was for him a mere personnel allocation to
receive Miwasaki. Instead, Tonda must have been pleased by the clients,
R&D Headquarters and the head office organization for his acceptance.
Anyway, Miwasaki was an unwelcome guest as a personnel forced to be sent
from the head office. Miwasaki felt that condition immediately after the
As a new comer to the sales field, he had to recognize that he could not
have a say at any meetings. His opinion was not accepted as reasonable,
and regarded mostly as the noise from outfield bleachers not familiar to
In most of the meetings Miwasaki attended, such whisper of Emperor Tonda,
sitting obliquely, was heard around.
"He is saying only argumental and idealistic things. What we want
is the opinion sticking to the scene."
The attendees, agreeing to such outright blame, became less supportive
to Miwasaki. Since he himself had no honorable wish, he even lost his small
pride, far from reacting against the whisper.
Manager Tawara, Miwasaki's boss, had given him a superior job performance
assessment until he left R&D Headquarters. So, even though he was made
light of at Steel Casting Sales Dept., he was promoted to Manager two years
after the transfer, helped by his past record, at the same time with Kushima.
Kushima used to take care of Miwasaki when he worked for the casting production
process in Tsukiji Plant.
At that time, Kushima had been noted for his warm personality and good
ability, and been among the cores.
Now, he had the confidence of both sales and the plants, and also Division
Manager and other executives trusted him the best of all.
Openly compared to such an excellent person, Miwasaki did not know what
to do with himself.
In such situation, how did Division Manager and other executives take his
offer to promote the export of steel castings?
Wasn't their idea this way?
"It cannot be any hopeful matter whether the export would be instrumental
to the division or not. But since Miwasaki has no other strong point, better
for him to do as he likes for the time being."
Silly talk of Emperor Tonda continues in a family-like drinking party,
"When on earth will your brain come back from an easy job in your
previous days? Since you are now a manager, why not you get down to work?"
Whatever the silly talk was, whispered like that in a scornful attitude,
looking sideways at reliable Kushima comparably, even Miwasaki, a coward,
could not be only embarrassed and say "Sorry," whether the talker
was Emperor or any other executives.
If the goal for which Emperor and everybody involved had to band together
hadn't been hanging down before his eyes, he couldn't have put up with
such situation and his desperate time bomb would have exploded long time
And now Miwasaki received the long-awaited information of his dispatch
Which assembler of railroad crossings should Hayatama tie-up with? About
this deadlocked problem, Miwasaki, releaved from the spell, shamelessly
made a conversion to the direct business with LBF, like "a fox that
borrows the authority of a tiger, or a scarecrow in armor", backed
by the power of Ohshima, influential Executive Director, and Minabe, the
core of the promotion of HSA.
On the contrary, Emperor Tonda must have become in such a state of mind
as to be bitten by a pet dog.
Though he was now Managing Director, he did not seem to leave the post
of Division Manager to anybody else. Was it because he believed that something
clearly showing as his achievement was waiting just around the corner,
not to say because of protecting his comfortable position?
He attended the monthly meeting between production and sales every time,
and then appeared to the meeting of 8 samurais. When the samurais' meeting
changed to a drinking party, slightly drunk, his whisper began as usual
to no one in particular
"Leave the future of your division to me. The future of all of you
depends on myself. It is your only way of life to support me."
Personnel matter was Emperor's hobby. Everybody in the divisoin recognized
if anyone had been against him, who would have known his post the next
But, the card of Miwasaki was not in Emperor's hand because of the decided
transfer to HSA. Therefore, though he was timid by nature and did not have
any guts to go against his boss, he was a little relaxed and drinking beer
pretending a pet dog, feeling acute eyes of Emperor.
Part 8-1 Reading: 13' 42"
Part 8-2 Reading: 18' 04"