2020 was the year when the world was forced to make big changes and, at the same time, we reconsidered what HORIBA’s strengths are.
Based on the world’s top-level basic technology and the ideas and skills of each person who can utilize that technology, HORIBA has begun to create new value in various fields more than ever.
We will open up these turbulent times with a sense of crisis and the ability to read changes in the current situation.
2020 was a year when we were under an extremely difficult business environment due to the global spread of COVID-19. HORIBA responded to this difficult situation with strong and continuous efforts and human resource capabilities, and as a result, an operating income margin of 10.5% was achieved (up 0.1 point from the previous year), which is the almost same result as 2019, despite sales, operating income, ordinary income, and net income, for the fiscal year ended December 2020 not reaching the previous year’s results.
HORIBA has achieved growth through balanced management by flexibly utilizing management resources and continually investing in each segment. By owning five business segments in different markets, the group as a whole was able to secure a surplus even in the 2008 global financial crisis, because Scientific and Medical-Diagnostic covered the decline in the Automotive and Semiconductor segments. The same is true even now when HORIBA is greatly impacted by COVID-19. Many industries are stagnant, and especially the prospect of the automotive industry, which is undergoing a major transformation, is also extremely uncertain. On the other hand, demand for semiconductors is increasing worldwide, and HORIBA’s Semiconductor segment also secured significant increases in sales and profits in 2020 and led the performance of the entire group. Targeting various industries in this way is particularly effective in emergency situations.
I recognize that changes in the business environments surrounding HORIBA will accelerate and be more intense than ever before, and thus HORIBA will continue to promote balanced management as a way of management that can flexibly respond to changes, even in the face of headwinds.
Today, various social issues are emerging, and the world is changing drastically, as shown in digital transformation and the mobility revolution. I recognize these changes in current trends as opportunities. Energy-related issues are an example; HORIBA can provide various solutions, which are brought from all the technologies we possess, in all processes of “generation,” “storage” and “utilization.” In the energy market, it is necessary to think about business development from a new perspective, beyond the boundaries of segments, and it may take time to reach a certain business scale. However, HORIBA’s current main product, the emission measurement systems, was originally developed as a device for analyzing human exhalation, and it was a product that found new value by changing the viewpoint.
Providing products using practical technology born from solid basic research is still HORIBA’s strength. Furthermore, we will not only provide measurement technologies as devices, but also proactively propose solutions, including the skills possessed by engineers, as a strength. HORIBA Techno Service Co., Ltd., which recently established a new head office building, is participating in the analysis project of samples brought back from the asteroid Ryugu by the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2, but this analysis is by no means easy. In order to identify substances without damaging the sample, high-precision measurement equipment and highly skilled engineers, who can analyze it, are mandatory. I feel honored that HORIBA was invited to this project not only because we possess the technology to manufacture the world’s top level measurement equipment, but also because the abilities of HORIBARNs* are highly regarded.
By refining our strengths in this way, I am convinced that the markets in which HORIBA can contribute will expand infinitely.
* HORIBARIANs: All HORIBA workers are regarded as family and called HORIBARIANs as a nickname.
One of my concerns is the spread of the perception that “acting according to textbooks is excellent” in the Japanese education field. In such education, it is difficult for students to acquire the ability to think and act creatively based on the knowledge learned. Without the power to think and act on your own, you can only change the model of existing products, and it may be difficult to create unique products from scratch. I think that you can accumulate the power to predict changes and refine your sense of business by building a database of experiences inside yourself from various experiences other than textbooks.
From management’s point of view, I thought the tide of the business environment had changed even before the spread of COVID-19, and thus I was not surprised so much by the change in the current situation. This is because management cannot be controlled according to logic and textbooks. The role of management is to look ahead, set the direction of business and the company, and lead the organization by utilizing the sense and wisdom gained from experiences and learning.
In 2020, physical movement and interactions with people were severely restricted, but we were able to manage group companies globally by utilizing online communication tools introduced in 2019. In Japan, the Good Place work system, which was introduced in 2019 by developing the traditional telecommuting system, also supported us to work flexibly and efficiently in a remote environment. As the top of management, I believe that continual investment in company growth with an eye on the future is important, both in normal times and in difficult business environments.
HORIBA expects diverse human resources to shine in their own places, like stained glass that shines in a variety of ways. HORIBA’s significant power is from human resources who can play their roles by exerting their abilities, such as people who achieve results as a team through management skill and who pursue new technologies thoroughly. The reason why we were able to continue our business, despite the severe impact of the spread of COVID-19, is that HORIBARIANs have been showing leadership in their own responsibility and always aiming for the highest level. Many of them learned that new approaches and challenges, which are not an extension of the past, are necessary when in a crisis, and put that into practice. For example, the semiconductor business, which is currently the sole driver of business performance, had previously experienced a difficult situation in which the semiconductor market itself was temporarily sluggish, and operations were drastically reduced. HORIBA continued to invest in the semiconductor business despite such a severe business situation. We believe that the unconquerable spirit of HORIBARIANs, who endure difficulties, and the trust in the company, which continues to invest even in difficult circumstances, have led to the remarkable progress of the semiconductor business today.
A sense of crisis is what each employee feels seriously when work cannot be done as usual. HORIBARIANs, who can always ask themselves to take new approaches and challenges with a sense of crisis, propose new approaches, and boldly take on challenges, are the driving force to grow HORIBA significantly.
While I recognize the advantages of the maneuverability and efficiency of communicating online, I am very interested in the fact that voices from group companies all over the world have been raised stating that face-to-face communication is also important. Casual conversations and exchanges of ideas in post-meeting in-person gatherings, which were held every time before the online meetings were introduced, played an important role in building relationships of trust. It is a great asset for HORIBA that many HORIBARIANs recognize that these occasions are important. By combining the values of both online and face-to-face, I believe that society will change to an era where 1 + 1 = 2 is not the only case, but also the case is to spread to 3 and 4. HORIBA has the foundation to respond to such changes and already implements various activities. In this turbulent time, we will return to the spirit of the corporate motto “Joy and Fun” and create corporate value by leveraging the strengths of HORIBA that we have built up so far. I ask for your continued understanding and support in 2021.
Chairman & Group CEO