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Top Interview

Sharpen Innate Sensibilities and Achieve the Ultimate in Value! President Kugimaru shares his thoughts on the role that POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES ought to take on, as well as corporate growth, fostering human resources, and his vision for the future.
About POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES

What is POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES’ role in POLA ORBIS Group ?

As customer demand continues to diversify, POLA ORBIS Group (hereafter the Group) governs multiple brands that possess great uniqueness through its “multi-value chain strategy.” Each skin care product requires an entirely different added value based on its own brand. As the Group’s research and production company, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES takes on the important role of constantly addressing each brand’s needs and customer expectations to translate each vision into reality.

POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES’ Specific Activities, Strengths, and Appeal

POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES’ monozukuri (the Japanese concept of manufacturing excellence) is largely backed by three core activities.

The first activity is “basic research.” Here, we conduct research that provides the basis of creating new skin care products. Through research activities that spearhead new fields in skin care science in ways that dare to revolutionize social values, we continue to develop products that deliver joy and excitement to customers from a new perspective.
In doing so, we must ensure that our researchers approach their projects from many angles. The researchers browse through various academic papers and research many different new technologies and competitor products to identify market trends and customer needs, and receive candid feedback from retailers. Through this process, they continually conduct research that aligns itself with the company’s strategies.
Top examples from past results include the discovery of “Rucinol”, an active skin whitening agent, as well as the development of “NEI-L1,” the first quasi-antiwrinkle drug in Japan. Analyzing the mechanisms of the skin has allowed us to search for materials that match customer needs. This high technological capability is a core strength of POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES.

The second activity is “development.” The Group’s brands offer great variety, each in a reasonable price range with a unique concept and advanced technology, which makes it hard to believe that they all fit under the same category of skin care. This is a testament to the diversification of consumers. In addition, the demand for even shorter development time has increased. Against this backdrop, methods that address each brand’s requirements are vital in that product’s development. Responding to this trend, in a departure from the unified approach of the past, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES is currently implementing multiple development processes. In doing so, we are tirelessly proposing new technologies aiming to nurture the uniqueness of our products.

The third activity is “production.” It is extremely difficult to mass produce while adhering to specifications that were decided upon during the research and development stage. In fact, skin care products are not made by combining JIS-approved materials, meaning that small adjustments in the selection of raw materials and ingredients must be made each time. As the quality of a product improves, the requirements become more stringent, making the process more prone to errors. Even in mass production, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES continues to offer a stable supply of safe products that do not suffer from errors or variation. This is something we can take pride in. We believe that this is another strength commensurate with our research and development techniques.

“Quality,” as we know it in general terms, refers to technological capacities in “basic research,” “development,” and “production,” all of which we consider to be our strengths. The functions and approaches comprising these three widely divergent elements come together as one to deliver satisfaction to our customers. This is what makes quality possible in definitive terms. We hope to sustain our efforts in this at all times.

What is Necessary to Maintain a High Level of Technology ?

To maintain a high technological level, we must sharpen our innate sensibilities. The ultimate that can be achieved in value changes in accordance with shifts in consumer demand and market trends. Therefore, identifying what the customer really wants is the only way to continue developing things that are difficult to capture in words. This is why sharpening our innate sensibilities is so essential.
Business Development Vision

Business Environment Surrounding POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES

Just as customer needs continue to evolve, the business environment surrounding POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES is also beginning to change in major ways.
The first of these changes is the emergence of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies (skin care production contractors). As each company continues to improve its research and development, as well as its productivity, we project that competition will intensify within the Group between POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES and OEM companies. Moreover, artificial intelligence and other global technological innovations can be expected to impact routine operations. Meanwhile, the QCD (quality, cost, delivery) of our Group brands needs to be maintained. In other words, we have to seek new strategies that set themselves apart from previous ones while adhering to elements that must be sustained in the midst of changes taking place in the business environment.

For example, in terms of cost and delivery, we follow through with our monozukuri based on production planning. However, projecting future demand for skin care products is extremely difficult. Even if production planning is based on an estimated quantity, the actual order quantity often varies from that estimated prior to production. In light of this, we have made changes to the number of units in our production planning each time an order has changed. However, more planning changes can lead to on-site confusion, ultimately resulting in higher costs. To address this issue, we are currently preparing to launch a new production planning system that aims to improve cost and delivery while maintaining the same technological level.

Technological Support Given to the Group’s Overseas Development

Cumulatively, during the past year, we have dispatched 12 employees to Jurlique (currently, four technicians are dispatched). Moreover, we plan to dispatch support project members to H2O PLUS as part of an effort to provide proactive support on the personnel and technology fronts. (As of June 2018)

The technicians dispatched from POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES pass down the framework and processes of the company’s monozukuri. They sometimes participate in formulating management strategies to bolster the company’s research and production divisions as a whole from the ground up. You may ask, “Why do we take active steps to offer support?” The reason is none other than our belief that it directly leads to substantial growth in overseas sales, which is the Group’s overall goal. Moreover, this approach is extremely effective in fostering talent. For brands that require human resources on the technological front in research and production, we hope to continue our collaboration through leveraging. This is also another role that we believe only POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES can fulfill.
Enhancing the Company, Enhancing Human Resources

Human Resources Sought by POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES

Earlier, I mentioned that sharpening our innate sensibilities is essential in maintaining a high technological level. Now I would like to note that we must possess insight to reach increasingly higher goals.
The following is based on my personal interpretation. People with insight tend to demonstrate great sensibility and a good ability to observe. These individuals can be considered truly outstanding based on their possession of the following seven abilities: “to always understand the cause,” “to always have a goal in mind,” “to always question,” “to look at things from multiple perspectives,” “to not get struck in the present,” “to possess a wide breadth of knowledge,” and “to never forget to have an objective view.” Resources who demonstrate these traits can combine the knowledge they already possess to achieve greater things through the experience they gain in society and the efforts they expend to reach their goals.

For example, upon learning that tasks have been undertaken according to what has been normalized, and thus rendered irrelevant, individuals with good insight immediately seek different approaches. If an individual lacks insight, he or she does not exercise awareness and just lets things be, even when they have superior knowledge and/or experience; this is a tremendous waste.

To achieve all seven abilities grounded in insight may be too much to expect. However, if we fostered human resources that could fulfill even a few of these, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES would be capable of reaching even higher goals. Needless to say, technicians currently on board should also aim to develop their insight so that they can leverage their precious knowledge and experience to reach even higher.

How To Develop Insight

I feel that developing insight is extremely difficult. For example, a lack of insight makes it impossible to relay your ideas in a rational manner. To resolve this so that you are capable of developing insight on your own, I usually recommend writing down and summarizing your thoughts. Some people may be surprised by the simplicity of this task, but it is deceivingly difficult. To organize your thoughts and communicate them to others logically assumes first of all that you have grasped the essence of the matter at hand. This is actually quite difficult. People with insight demonstrate a good understanding of these details, which allows them to communicate their thoughts precisely and efficiently using simple language. In addition, they do not make unnecessary excuses.
With this in mind, it may be useful to summarize everyday tasks as reports. Another good method is to organize your thoughts in a diary. I keep a diary myself as one method of personal development.

Company Environment to Develop Human Resources and the Future

We have worked on passing down technology to younger employees, which is promoted by focusing on special fields. However, if we isolate “research”, “development”, and “production” in each field and fail to study the technologies that come before and after these categories, we fall short of leveraging our company strengths and understanding our business as a whole. To address this, we have launched a long-term initiative called Monozukuri School, which runs for about 10 months, and allows five or six invited technicians to learn monozukuri from top to bottom. The students are expected to not only listen to lectures, but also summarize what they learn in handwritten reports. They participate with the expectation that if they cannot complete the assignments, they may fail, which pushes them to commit to their learning. Moreover, to provide these students with tools that enable them to make basic improvements and achieve overall business enhancement, we have launched an initiative called “QC Group Activities” that encourages participants to foster even stronger on-site capabilities.
We believe that the knowledge and discoveries gained from these activities will help sharpen our insight.
Those with insight and highly developed innate sensibilities tend to pick up on irregularities, no matter how small, and this is a crucial ability, as merely looking at what has already manifested will not lead to technological advancement. When the why’s and how’s come to mind in things that were taken for granted, it is a glimpse into a new discovery as well an opportunity to move onto the next step.

Although humans have developed antibodies against trillions of bacteria, these were not originally part of our species. Our bodies began developing antibodies after going through repeated changes. Our bodies evolve through an automatic rearrangement of fixed and mutating genes. Developing talent undergoes the same process. Through everyday efforts, building experience, looking at and listening to things carefully, and growing through attending to what can be picked up daily through our senses, we can reach higher peaks as individuals, researchers, and technicians. If you have such talent, you will succeed no matter where you are or what you do. Perhaps the environment that I envision and the dream that I embrace can nurture such talent, allowing us to grow and advance together.

POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES
President Kazuya Kugimaru
Experience

1984 Joined the Engineering Division of Fukuroi Plant, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES INC., upon graduating from the faculty of mechanical engineering in an engineering department

1990 Joined the Production Technology Department

2000 Joined the Production Planning Department

2002 Joined the General Logistics Department, POLA Cosmetics, Inc.

2007 Joined the Sales Department, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES INC.

2009 Joined the Corporate Planning Department

2010 Appointed the Executive Director in charge of Corporate Planning and the General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department

2016 Appointed the Director in charge of Corporate Planning, Human Resources, and Quality Assurance

2017 Appointed the Representative Director and President

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