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Leading interview

Aiming to be a world-winning manufacturer of cosmetics through the concepts of monozukuri (the Japanese style of manufacturing excellence) and hitozukuri (the development of human resources capable of carrying out monozukuri)
In this interview, President Takao Miura discusses his vision and dreams for POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, Inc. (POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES), along with exciting possibilities and prospects for the future.

──What do you see as the role of POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, Inc. in the POLA ORBIS Group?
Today's customers are seeking an increasingly diverse range of cosmetics products. In response to these market conditions, the POLA ORBIS Group is pursuing a multi-brand strategy. We believe that offering high brand variety and exploiting diversified sales channels will allow us to provide the optimal products and services to each brand and channel, which will ultimately enable us to satisfy, retain, and attract more customers.
POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES is the only company in the POLA ORBIS Group responsible for both research and development and cosmetics manufacturing. The main mission of the R&D division is to create new value, while that of the manufacturing division is to pursue a new kind of monozukuri(the Japanese style of manufacturing excellence) , which will allow customers to have even more trust in our products. The Group's multi-brand strategy needs to be promoted through the successful execution of these missions.
More specifically, in keeping an eye to the future, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES must work in close collaboration with the operating companies in the Group to identify what customers desire most from each brand. These findings must then be incorporated into R&D and embodied as products. I think that these are among the most important roles of POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES.
Commitment to monozukuri
──Could you tell us about the philosophy and history of POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES and how it relates to a new kind of monozukuri and the creation of new value?
At POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, our Company Philosophy is "We shall continue to be the technology group delivering smiles around the world through creation of new value for joy and inspiration of the customers." We inherited this philosophy from our Group founder, Shinobu Suzuki, and its spirit is still very much alive today.
Inspired by gratitude towards his wife, whose hands had become rough from her dedication to daily chores, Shinobu Suzuki utilized his skills as an engineer to develop a cream that could soothe her tired hands. After his initial success, he pushed ahead to develop new and improved formulations and manufacturing methods, which resulted in the eventual development of high quality cosmetics with luxurious textures and an effectiveness that customers could actually see, touch, and feel. Owing to his aspirations to directly demonstrate the excellence of these products, he decided to start a door-to-door cosmetics sales company. That company was the foundation upon which our present Group was built. In accordance with the founding aspirations of Shinobu Suzuki and the loyal dedication of his predecessors, and fully supported by accumulated know-how and state-of-the-art technologies, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES will utilize a new and refined type of monozukuri in order to continue creating new value that will enable the ongoing development and introduction of industry- and world-first products.
Business development vision
──In which direction would you like to take POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES in the future?
At this time, the POLA ORBIS Group has established a long-term vision of reaching 250 billion yen in Group sales by 2020 of which 20% is expected to come from overseas sales. The acquisition of overseas affiliated companies, h2O PLUS and Jurlique, pushed international sales to 12-13% of our total sales as of December 2014. As of now, the primary challenges we face are how to most effectively speed up overseas expansion of the POLA and ORBIS brands and how to boost the growth of h2O PLUS and Jurlique.
To solidify POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES' status as a leader in the highly competitive global market, in 2013, we decided to focus our efforts on research and manufacturing in specialty skin care and base makeup products. Next, in September 2014, with the aim of drastically increasing our manufacturing efficiency and enhancing our profit structure, we consolidated our manufacturing sites in Japan to a single location at the Fukuroi Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture. Utilizing this strategy will allow us to further strengthen our research and manufacturing operations in the future. Furthermore, building on the foundation laid by our predecessors, we will also improve and refine our differentiated technologies, and strive for more efficient monozukuri.
──Could you tell us in detail about your process of creating new value?
To achieve our goals, we have selected anti-aging and skin whitening care as our highest priority research fields. We have invested substantial resources into these rapidly expanding fields, and they have been specifically targeted by our R&D division. Promising results have already been obtained, including the development of unique components and the discovery of novel concepts. We feel that our job at POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES is not just simply to provide effective products to our clients, but rather to provide such products while strongly emphasizing why they are clearly superior to those of other companies, based on straightforward and easily understandable scientific evidence that supports these claims. This evidence is indispensable to our team at POLA Ladies so that products can be delivered to clients with the firm conviction that they are superior in every way to those of our competitors.
This attitude is also applicable when attempting to acquire new customers through our other channels and brands, which are typically represented by ORBIS. By making full use of our accumulated developmental and technological capabilities, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES provides products to each channel and brand that cannot be imitated. In the near future, we will focus on the development of new formulations that deliver "surprise and delight" and "a feeling of immediate effect" to customers who purchase our products. In addition to accumulated know-how, practical applications and improved technologies for mass production are crucial in the development of these new formulations. Regardless of how wonderful a product may be in the laboratory, it is completely meaningless unless the same product quality can be maintained at full-scale manufacturing. POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES will fully utilize the strengths of our dual functions of research and manufacturing and enhance our practical application capabilities to closely link our research in the laboratory to the manufacturing process. It is precisely because we have these dual functions that we will be able to create new value.
──Could you also tell us about your focus on a new monozukuri?
In the future, in order for the Group to develop our overseas business on a large scale, we must be superior to other companies in terms of cost competitiveness. This in turn causes us to think about the cost effectiveness of carrying out monozukuri and maintaining well-differentiated technologies and R&D capabilities. These are crucial factors for overseas competition.
Therefore, we consolidated our plants to establish a foundation for increasing our manufacturing efficiency and strengthening our profit structure. However, this measure in itself does not enable cost competitiveness at a degree sufficient to make us the global leader. Thus, over the past several years, in order to strengthen our cost and design capacity, we have continued revising our methods and attitudes regarding new product development, which is at an earlier stage in the monozukuri process. Positive results from this decision are already starting to be seen. At the same time, we are paying close attention to manufacturing, which is where monozukuri actually takes place. To enhance productivity in manufacturing, we continually invest in state-of-the-art equipment and premium quality control. In addition, in the near future, we will continue to strive for optimal manufacturing by constantly asking questions such as, "What kind of monozukuri would allow us to operate without generating excessive waste or unnecessary inventory?", "What can we do to streamline costs associated with manufacturing?", and so on. These are issues that we as a manufacturer must address on a continuous basis. Although our ultimate objectives will not change, we believe that constantly seeking to improve our production methods is the key to growth.
──What should each individual be doing to become world winning?
What I have been talking about up to now has been POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES' strategy as a business. However, to win globally, it is important for each individual to recognize that the key to becoming world winning lies in their daily work.
For example, in the field of research, one objective is to win awards from the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC). The IFSCC is a global congress whose competitions can be viewed as the Olympics of cosmetic science. However, for us, merely participating in the IFSCC is not enough. Whenever we participate in IFSCC events, we always have an unyielding determination to win. After we have conducted our R&D activities, we always aim to be world winning. Global competition is not limited to research. Our products are exported all over the world, meaning that we are also competing against companies in every country. Each of us has to think individually about what it means to work to become world winning. A basic principle and mission of our manufacturing process is to bring a unified effort to production with guaranteed quality. As such, each individual should enhance their sensitivity and ponder deeply, asking themselves repeatedly why things have come to be as they are currently. The day-by-day improvements and enhancements we achieve will add up to making a big difference. I am convinced that continuous efforts such as these are what will enable our company to become world winning.
Aspirations regarding hitozukuri(the development of human resources capable of carrying out
    monozukuri), or the development of human resources
──What are your thoughts about fostering human resources?
We at POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES define human resources as human assets. That is, we view people as far and away our most precious resources. In most cases, the competitiveness of a business is evaluated in terms of its products and services, but it is truly the attitudes and actions of individuals that make these possible. In other words, the actual basis of competitiveness is found in an organization's people: it is people who form the basis of any organization. We constantly pursue the creation of new value and a new monozukuri. What I would like to create is an environment and corporate culture where these day-to-day efforts allow each individual to grow and feel that they are building a rewarding career. Our daily hard work is replete with value. I believe that deliberately thinking things through and persisting in making a steady effort to the very end enriches the mind, body, and spirit.
While embarking on these types of efforts, the first thing you should always be aware of is your objective. If you do not have a clear objective, it is impossible to determine whether you are doing the right thing. The second thing you should do is examine things from both micro and macro perspectives. With a micro perspective, you can use your expertise to scrutinize matters thoroughly, and with a macro perspective, you can step back and see the big picture. By taking both of these perspectives, you will be able to recognize your true objective, you will stop getting bogged down by the same old methods, and you will gain an awareness of new approaches. The third thing you should do is take action. No matter what kind of challenge you are presented with, you must act. If you take action, something will change. The only way that the company can grow and improve is through proactive purposefulness and action on the part of each individual. If you take action and fall short of your objective, hold your head high, take a new approach, persevere and try, try again. I believe that my job as President is to create an environment that encourages and rewards those who try.
Dreams for tomorrow
──Finally, President Miura, could you tell us your dreams and prospects for the future?
Fate somehow brought all of us together at POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, including myself. And while we are here, my unceasing desire is to make POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES a company where every employee can work with the utmost effort and excitement while feeling a sense of reassurance. I think it is of primary importance to establish an environment in which employees can work feeling assured that POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES will never cease to develop. A relationship of trust is the basis of everything. This holds true for relationships between POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES and its customers as well as its stakeholders, and it holds just as true for relationships within the company. Even if we work with a single shared objective, achieving it will be difficult unless relationships of trust have been firmly established between bosses and subordinates, between seniors and juniors, and among colleagues. Of course, I trust my colleagues and subordinates, and I am very careful to make sure they know it. Simply giving orders without considering the opinions of others, or just saying "OK" or "No" according to pre-determined rules are the things we must not do.
As for me, I try to face both individuals and work sincerely and passionately, the constant reaffirmation of which is the only way to truly establish relationships of trust. With these types of relationships, we can express to each other what we really think and, when necessary, even argue heatedly for our beliefs. Once we have decided on a course of action, then we can wholeheartedly come together in its pursuit. I am convinced that this is the kind of company we need to be. Any organization armed with strong relationships of trust will be a formidable competitor. It is through daily work that each employee archives fulfillment, a feeling of career building, and a sense of accomplishment. This is the kind of company that I would like POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES to be when I hand the reins of management to the next generation.

Takao Miura
Representative Director and President, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, Inc. Joined POLA Cosmetics, Inc. (currently POLA Inc.) in 1984. Served as Executive Officer and Director at the same company and as Executive Managing Director at POLA ORBI Holdings Inc. Became Director and Executive Vice President at POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, Inc. in 2013 and has served in his current position since January 2015. His personal motto is "Worship God and love people." With a steadfast attitude towards work, he aims to align the sense of growth achieved in the company with the sense of growth felt by individual employees.

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