Ina Food Industry: A New Management Philosophy for Japanese Business
Ina Food Industry Co. Ltd was situated in Ina, Nagano Prefecture, and surrounded by the soaring mountains of Japan's Alps. Amidst this idyllic setting, Mr. Hiroshi Tsukakoshi, Ina Food's 68-year-old chairman, had led the company through an incredible 48 years of continuous revenue and profit growth. The company was a leading manufacturer of powdered agar, a traditional gelatin product derived from seaweed. In 2005, news about the medicinal benefits of agar led to a boom in demand, but Tsukakoshi felt that this was an unfortunate event and believed that if management was not preoccupied purely with revenue, and instead focused on establishing steady growth, the company would continue to exist for a long time. This in turn would please everybody who was directly or indirectly associated with the company. He was confident that Ina Foods was a new model for Japanese small- and medium-sized businesses under a new management philosophy that brought happiness to employees and community. He felt he had done a good job so far. The business had prospered and did not pose any urgent problems. But he also felt that he should not simply sit back and savor his success. There were tremendous growth opportunities and he knew operations should be improved before those opportunities could be targeted.