Toyoda, Takisawa and Turning
In order to succeed, any obstacles can be overcome with patience, hard work and a financial commitment.
For an organization’s leader, an important aspect of the job is possessing and disseminating optimism coupled with an entrepreneurial mind-set. Sometimes these traits require making what seems to be risky business decisions. Such decisions can cause uncertainty and even sometimes doubt from those around you.
As president and COO of JTEKT Toyoda Americas, I see an important aspect of my job is to encourage my colleagues to challenge our company’s elasticity with intent to become more productive internally and serve customers more efficiently. Trying to move away from more entrenched traditional views is one reason why an OEM CNC machine tool builder, such as Toyoda, would take on a new brand; one which manufactures equipment in a different sphere of metalworking production.
Introduced to Takisawa Taiwan in 2015 at Milan’s EMO show, I was met with a reputable organization. The subsidiary of Japan-based Takisawa Machine Tool Co., at the time, held a 15-percent market share in Taiwan and was considered a leading manufacturer of medium-to-large sized CNC lathes. However, its channels of distribution and support infrastructure in North America needed strengthening to be more competitive against other well-known Japanese builders. Over the years, our team had discussed the necessity of expanding with a turning product offering; however, there was always a competitive conflict with other pieces of equipment that prohibited a clean business relationship.
We hear a lot from Toyoda customers who didn’t start off as a machine shop. Many started in fabrication and increased their shop’s capabilities to win projects—slowly integrating CNC machines intended for designing fixtures and machining metal parts. As an OEM machine tool builder, Toyoda recognizes the manufacturing sector is changing and that as a supplier, it is important that our product offerings be as broad as possible to help us provide our customers a proven source of capital equipment.
Early in 2016, Takisawa, Taiwan, announced that Toyoda Americas would be its master distributor for turning centers in Mexico and select markets in the U.S. Completing Toyoda’s machine lineup, the alliance provided access to the most advanced technology, engineering team and full-service technical support from Toyoda’s Arlington Heights, Illinois, office and the Takisawa, Taiwan USA subsidiary in Ontario, Canada. Kicking off the new partnership, we hosted a launch party that unveiled five turning centers on our headquarters’ shop floor as well as introducing Toyoda’s new Takisawa, Taiwan, national product team. The support system that has been put in place gives customers more direct interaction with the machining lineup’s capabilities throughout the purchasing process.
Our vision for this new partnership was simple; open doors to lower and mid-range production facilities that we were struggling to penetrate. Now accompanying our VMCs, horizontals, bridge machines and grinders, our distribution channels can attract a higher quality distributor with no competitive conflicts. The plan is as these new customers become successful users of the turning centers, we can continue to nurture the relationship and be able to offer smaller verticals and HMCs for their next production requirement.
Let me be clear, this is not a game-changing move we’re aiming for. However, bringing two companies together is never seamless. We are confident and most importantly, optimistic, of the success this integration will produce moving forward. This isn’t our first rodeo of the sorts. Just over 10 years ago, Toyoda Americas put its name on the line for another brand when we bought ownership into WELE of Taiwan that has since ranked high with some of our most popular machine tool sales.
Our team of engineers continue to be eager to test the lineup’s range of machining capabilities—so much so that we have already rolled out two machines co-developed by both companies after gathering customer data showing a need for a more compact solution capable of mass producing small parts. Having hit the shop floor in January this year, the compact NEX-105 has been well accepted. Two years of full-force collaborative efforts between our companies have been met by positive synergies amongst our sales team, national product manager, Takisawa, Taiwan overseas and most importantly, with customers.