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Travels with Larry Archive

What does happy 30TH birthday really mean?

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30 years = 360 months, 1560 weeks, 10,957.5 days (including leap years), 262,980 hours, 15,778,800 minutes, and in the case of Mitsubishi, a TAPPI Sustaining Company, it is also how long they have been doing business in the United States.

As a supplier to the Corrugated Industry, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc. Corrugated Machinery Division has successfully operated continuously in the U.S. for the past three decades. I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Randy Schiller, Vice President Sales & Marketing of MHIA, at their offices in Hunt Valley, Md.

"Let me make it perfectly clear, we have never pulled out of the market and are here to stay. This division has been in the black for the past 10 years in a row. We have enjoyed the past three decades of serving our customers in the U.S. and Canada. Thirty years is a big accomplishment for us that we are extremely proud of." Randy Schiller

As I say many times, you can tell how well a company is run by the smiles on the faces of the employees. What I witnessed when meeting several employees was a friendly smile; everyone knew each other's names. MHI does not have much employee turnover. When people come to work here they stay.

Randy is a self proclaimed "Computer Geek." He actually started serving MHI in 1987 as a software supplier. At that time he did not know what corrugators were. He is a quick study. Randy has seen many changes since he joined the company in 1994. Until 2000, the MHI Corrugating Machinery Company had really been acting as an independent representative of Mitsubishi's equipment. In 2000, they became part of the Mitsubishi family and have been in the "black" ever since.

This in itself has been major accomplishment, but when you consider the exchange rate of some other countries, at times calculated to be a 30 percent price differential, it is a truly amazing feat.

One of the biggest game changers was the development and introduction of the EVOL line of flexo-folder gluers with the EVOL-84 and EVOL-100. These introductions proved timely with some other manufacturers going out of business.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries does about $21 billion a year in sales and is one of about 300 independent companies within the Mitsubishi family. Within Mitsubishi Heavy Industries there are 12 divisions worldwide. MHI sells on total cost of ownership. Some may have a lower price up front; however, they feel that they can compete with anyone when total cost of ownership is taken into consideration.

The 40,000 square feet of office and warehouse space in Hunt Valley, Md., at one time served as a roll grinder and assembly plant. It now performs as a sales, service and parts depot for their equipment throughout the North America. Approximately 30 employees work in this building. These folks perform miracles according to some of their customers.

Randy said that he would put their team up against anyone in the industry. "We generally don't lose people. This type experience makes the difference with our customers. We normally do not hire people right out of school. We want to make sure that our new employees have had some field level experience and that they can handle a suitcase."

As always during my visits I asked for input on what can TAPPI do to add more value for our members? Randy was very open with some ideas, which included bringing back the Production Round Table at Corrugated events. Get the Production and Engineering Committees fired back up again. We must continue to get the box makers to come the TAPPI events. With the New World Order of Consolidation, we need to find out what makes these new owners and acquirers tick. They need to be involved.

I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to one of my favorite people, Dick Olsen from Chicago, who works for Randy. (Dick, just so you know, Randy told me that one of the best decisions that he ever made in his career was to bring you aboard.)

I met many wonderful people during my visit. The ones who gave me cards are: Yasushi Kitahara-General Manager, Paul J. Aliprando-Operations Manager and Kunio Niuchi-Chief Engineer.

For more information about Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc., please visit www.mhicorrugating.com.

For more information about TAPPI, please visit www.tappi.org.

There are two types of people in our industry; TAPPI members and those who should be.

Until next time............. Larry