In 2019, we formulated a new Mid-Long Term Management Plan, MLMAP2023. As HORIBA approached the target it had announced, and the business environment changed drastically, it was necessary for us to formulate a new target.
This was because of a disparity between the arising issues that HORIBA had to tackle and those in the former management plan.
In a dynamically changing world, we will demonstrate the value of HORIBA, by partnering with our customers, to get through difficult times.
Almost 20 years of the 21st century have passed and the world is in turbulence due to climate change, resource and energy issues, rapid economic growth and development in Asia, the arrival of the 5G era, etc. Further, the infectious disease COVID-19 has spread bringing new crisis. Now the world is in an unexperienced storm. The automotive and semiconductor industries, which are HORIBA’s core businesses, are significantly affected by these changes, and we need to respond to them.
HORIBA’s history shows that we can withstand such turbulence. Our resilience to such turbulence comes from the ability to identify the essence of the changes and our pride in our technologies.
Our original technologies, which we have been earnestly developing since our foundation, are recognized globally. The fact that we have about 50 group companies around the world and about 60% of the group’s approximately 8,000 HORIBARIANs* are non-Japanese prove this. In the process of becoming the current HORIBA, we have focused on developing human resources who have an aesthetic eye for identifying the essence of things, and who continue to take on challenges with new ideas that are not bound by conventional wisdom and precedents. These are significant strengths of HORIBA today.
* HORIBARIANs: All HORIBA workers are regarded as family and called HORIBARIANs.
For Fiscal 2019, net sales were 200.2 billion yen (down 4.9% year-on-year) and operating income was 20.9 billion yen (down 27.5% year-on-year), down from the record high of fiscal 2018. The impact of the semiconductor market was very large, but we were able to secure an operating income margin of 10% because of HORIBA’s balanced management, which has brought about our sustainable growth to date, worked well this time as well.
As noted, in 2019, we formulated our Mid-Long Term Management Plan, MLMAP2023, two years ahead of schedule, and are aiming for sales of 300 billion yen in 2023.
We know that our customers face challenges finalizing their future direction because of the great changes in social conditions as mentioned above. Now is the time for HORIBA to demonstrate its power and support.
So far, we have primarily contributed through measurement technologies and products that make use of those technologies. However, with MLMAP2023, we are expanding our business into the area of data management, in which we analyze the data obtained by HORIBA’s products and solve customers’ issues from a new approach. In other words, HORIBA, which used to be a supplier, will become a partner who joins with customers to get through difficult times. MLMAP2023 shows the path HORIBA will take into the future, and it is our target to make ourselves undergo major change.
There would be no growth if we focused only on the Japanese market and Japanese human resources. Our global human resources play an active role in HORIBA, and I feel this is possible because of the difference between education in Japan and overseas. Where Japan tends to emphasize memory and the amount or depth of knowledge, Western countries, as well as Asian countries such as China, focus on education that fosters the creative ideas of students. Even if students try something and fail, they properly analyze the reason for the failure to learn from it. I think that this is education that nurtures human resources that are able to try again and again, which HORIBA cherishes.
One of the reasons HORIBA actively acquires overseas companies is to obtain such diversely and highly educated human resources. Within the HORIBA Group, which values new ideas, we can utilize their perceptions and ideas more effectively; I believe that HORIBA’s way of thinking is recognized globally. As a result, we believe that HORIBA and our overseas companies are able to benefit from each other, even though the acquisition of foreign companies by Japanese companies is often said to be difficult. Another thing I think about globalization is that valuable information cannot be obtained merely by staying in Japan. As ICT in society develops, the amount and speed of information transmitted are increasing tremendously. However, the important thing is to know what and where that valuable information is. In order to know this, we must obtain the latest and most accurate information with our own eyes and ears, rather than rely on indirect information; in other words, it is to win the war of information. We believe that we must improve our insight and sensitivity to identify essential information and must look five to ten years ahead.
I feel that companies need unique corporate culture. Companies in Kyoto tend to avoid recycled ideas and attach importance to originality, and HORIBA is no exception. I think that it is something like “company dignity” rather than a mere “brand” for differentiation. When overseas companies ask to join the HORIBA Group, I believe it is because of HORIBA’s dignity. I believe that the realization of this dignity is due to none other than the nature and everyday behavior of HORIBARIANs.
People who visit the company often say, “it seems that every employee works so energetically and enjoyably.” At HORIBA, there is no corporate tradition that is tied to length of service in the company or position, and HORIBARIANs who have been with the company their entire career warmly welcome newly recruited people in mid-career. This is because everyone can truly share the joy of having more colleagues with the necessary abilities for HORIBA.
We have an environment where we can contribute to society and the world, and challenge ourselves. The happiness of being in such an environment, along with individual dreams, combine to brighten the company.
HORIBA invests approximately 10% of its sales into R&D. This policy will not change in the future. Again, new ideas are not born if we don’t take on challenges without fear of failure. In order to do so, human resources filled with a willingness to take on challenges are essential. I think that, in actuality, R&D expenses are expenses for acquiring and raising people.
The source of HORIBA’s value is measurement technologies. This will remain the same. However, products, of course, and the direction and method of sales, in other words, the branches and leaves, will naturally change. These changeable parts require sensitivities rather than precedent or knowledge. Sensitivities will be refined if we work in accordance with HORIBA’s corporate motto, Joy and Fun. Generally speaking, things also require “play,” such as gaps and looseness. I feel that one of the meanings of Joy and Fun is the scale of such play; that is, the scale of ideas that are not bound by conventional concepts.
Of course, we cannot ignore the financial performance of the company, such as sales and profits. However, it is not just about increasing the number of sales. It is essential to determine how we can increase the number of customers who choose and need HORIBA. In order to do so, I think a management spirit that greatly cares for customers who understand true value, like that of a long-established Japanese Kappo* restaurant, is necessary. I myself never thought of operating the company only for the purpose of avoiding deficits. That is because it would conflict with the way HORIBA should be, and the long-term perspective would be neglected.
* Kappo: Kappo is a high-quality, somewhat formal restaurant that serves with the menu determined by the chef, who is able to provide a wide variety of Japanese cuisine using fresh foods of the day and also taking account of conversation over the counter during the meal.
There are various issues to be solved in society, but I think that the root of the solutions to these issues is human resources. In addition to developing human resources at the company, I think that improving education for children, who may join the company in the future, is something that I, as the CEO of the company, should do. Thus, I have worked as the chairman of the Kyoto Kyoiku-Konwakai* (Educational Meeting) since 2008.
At the end of 2019, I gave a lecture to the fifth graders at an elementary school in Kyoto. There was a question and answer session after the lecture, and I received many intuitive and direct questions that approached the core of my lecture. I managed to answer the first question. Then a hand quickly went up again. This was repeated again and again. I was impressed that education that develops intellectual curiosity is also being conducted in Japan, and at the same time, I strongly felt that everyone had a dream.
HORIBA and HORIBARIANs value our dreams. With the goals set by MLMAP2023 in mind, we will envision each dream and work toward its realization. We believe that the repetition will bring good results, and we will renew our feeling to make our best efforts. I ask for your continued understanding and support in 2020.
Chairman & Group CEO