Business Talk with Yokohama Tire Sales Philippines Inc.’s President Satoshi Hariyama
Yokohama Tire Sales Philippines Inc. (YTSP) is a tire manufacturing facility located in Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga. It produces 810,000 tires per month and exports all over the world. Aside from importing materials, YTSP sells products made and produced in YTSP. Since Yokohama Tire has settled in the Philippines, high quality tires, which are described as Japanese quality, have been gradually recognized among Filipinos. Mr. Satoshi Hariyama, President of YTSP says that offering high quality tires is very important to the safety of drivers.
How did you start working for Yokohama Tire?
I didn’t have any vision of my future when I was in school since baseball was my first priority. I am not sure but somehow, I was hired by strange chance. I am really grateful to have this job.
Having facilities all over the world, what do you think about the location of your facility in the Philippines?
The plant in Clark, Pampanga has a capacity of 44.7 hectare and 3,000 employees. This is our second largest facility in the world. It is recognized as one of the plants that contribute to the boost of the Philippine economy. Our tires have been used by many Japanese automobile manufacturers in the Philippines. When it comes to tire replacement the car owners choose our tires over others. Customers, who repeatedly choose our brand, are a big advantage on our sales. I assume that the share of our products in the Philippines is approximately 20%. We have many rivals who sell tires at reasonable prices, but we sell higher quality products in wide variety. For a long time now, we have been establishing good relationships among Filipino customers and are continuing to build up a reliable standard for our customers.
Tell us your company’s product line-up distributed in the Philippines.
Our main products are the Blue Earth and Geolandar. The A-300 tires are used for brand new cars; this product also has very good sales.
What are the merits in having a facility in the Philippines?
The Philippines is experiencing rapid economic growth and new car sales are increasing in recent years. It is expected that this economic boom will continue until year 2020 or so. So, we are sure that we are going to have more opportunities to expand the market in the Philippines. We continuously try to work hard when it comes to taking business in our hands.
What is the sales strategy of Yokohama Tire in the Philippines?
In the Philippines, our products are being sold through distributors. We are trying to have more retail shops who can distribute our products with enough capacity of demands.
Also, we have newly launched tire products for trucks. Hopefully, these will get retailers’ attention. I recognize that expanding both the affiliated retailers and product items are essential to increase the volume of sales.
In the 2015-2016 season, Yokohama Tire has been sponsoring an elite soccer team in England called Chelsea Football Club. Do you think it is effective?
As you know, soccer is not a popular sport in the Philippines. So the interest for soccer is not high. I am hoping that my interview will be a good promotion for Primer readers to be aware of the company and the products.
On the other hand, basketball in the Philippines is considered to be a national sport. Yokohama Tire just made a sponsor contract with PBA (Philippine Basketball Association). We are still trying to figure out how to improve the awareness of Filipinos to our products. Hopefully, these sponsorships for both soccer and basketball will be a good promotion for the company.
Do you have any conflicts in doing business in the Philippines? If so, how did you handle these?
I understand that the prices of tires could be the first priority when it comes to purchasing tires, because tire itself is an expensive product. I see many new venture companies who are not from Japan offering cheaper tires and that could be one of the conflicts.
Safety and reliability of products are our main concerns. We hope that the consumers will be aware of how reliable and safe our tires are which are all labelled as Japan quality. We can proudly say that we have been offering one of the safest tires in the world. All of our tires cannot be on the market if they don’t pass our strict safety test.
If you need to replace tires for your car, please check Yokohama brand first.
Why do you think that the tires from Yokohama Tire have better reliability than other companies’?
The roads in the Philippines have severe condition for tires, such as high temperatures, heavy rain, and occasional “stop & go” especially in the city roads. Drivers may encounter a lot of risks when their tires wear down fast or even burst. Though rubbers are prone to deterioration and thermal cracking, we have been making tires that are suited for Philippine roads that can also overcome the changing climate.
If a tire bursts while driving, a serious accident will occur. I am not saying that all cheap tires are bad quality, but when you choose tires for your car, you should not solely focus on the price. Quality and reliability should be the first thought for your safety.
What is the advantage of having Filipino staff?
I have visited our overseas facilities such as in U.S.A., Canada, China and many European countries so far. I saw a lot of Filipinos working in most of the facilities abroad. Speaking from my experience, Filipinos have the ability to communicate in different languages. Some Filipino employees are able to speak English and Japanese other than Tagalog. Also, they are so friendly and generous. I think that it is easy to establish a relationship with Filipino staff, especially if you treat them as family.
Do you have pieces of advice for Japanese people who work overseas like you?
The Japanese marketing-style, also known as the “relationship marketing,” works here. Since it is a Japanese system, I thought it only works for Japanese companies in Japan. But somehow, it is not as bad to use it here as I previously thought.
It doesn’t matter where you are; you have to build up good relationship with your clients or customers. Once you get to know each other and build a relationship, it is easier to deliver on what they expect.
Looking around our facility, I think I need to teach this proposal skill to the Filipino employees because they are still unfamiliar to the Japanese marketing- style. On the other hand, I am learning many things from the local employees, such as the hospitality skill. It is a good opportunity to learn some strength from each other.
How do you spend your free days?
I play golf, jog on treadmill, or watch a movie in cinemas. For movies, I need subtitles in Japanese when I watch; I wish Filipino movie theaters would have it.
What is your dream? What is your future outlook?
I’d like to promote Yokohama Tire in any way I can. What I am experiencing now will be a good foothold to success. I truly enjoy living and working here. I appreciate the situation that I am in now because the chance of living overseas is not for everybody. This experience will surely will be the sum of my future.
For my personal wish, I would like to take a trip to many other countries with my family.
YOKOHAMA TIRE SALES PHILIPPINES INC.
Satoshi Hariyama was born in Fukuoka and spent his early days in Amagasaki, Japan. After he graduated from high school in Nagoya, he moved to Tokyo City for his college education.
His career with Yokohama Tire began at its sales company in Kanagawa. After three years of working there, he was transferred to its main office in Tokyo. Since then, he has been going back and forth between the sales office and the main company every three or four years. He dedicated himself to the Domestic Sales Division. On March 2015, he was assigned to manage the Yokohama Tire branch in the Philippines.
Favorite Book: ryusei-wagon (Meteor Wagon by Kiyoshi Shigematsu) is one of my favorites. The father and son storyline in this book is very touching.