Craftsmanship from Japan A Return to Japanese Craftsmanship

Interview  Koichi YAMAGUCHI 〈 Libec 〉

There is a revolution afoot at Libec’s Heiwa Seiki Kogyo Co., Ltd., well known as a Japanese tripod manufacturer.
October 2019 is the one-year anniversary since Koichi YAMAGUCHI assumed the post of CEO, and he is steering the company in a new direction. Its new product line, the large-scale tripod QD series, includes an unprecedented over-30kg capacity item, and in October, Libec announced they are launching a new product line in addition to tripods.
Mr. YAMAGUCHI lived overseas as a child and studied in America, and after working in different areas of manufacturing, he joined Heiwa Seiki Kogyo in 2014.
Having visited 48 countries worldwide, he takes a global view of Libec’s future plans, and it was time to return to Japanese craftsmanship.
From marketing to craftsmanship At first, my impression of the motion picture industry was that it was extremely distinct.
Recently trends have been changing dramatically, and creatives needed to make quick decisions.
This October marks my first year as the CEO, and during this year I changed various details.
The most significant was – in short – “A return to Japanese craftsmanship.” We had been placing importance on “marketing”, but this meant that we’d only be competing with other manufacturers under the same conditions.
There are more Chinese products in the tripod market now, and even the top brands are fighting for a market share, so I thought, “Why don’t we focus on Japanese craftmanship and polish our technological skills?” We need to concern ourselves with craftsmanship, quality, and the skills of the people who are behind it all.
I concentrated on the skills our company already possessed.
The days of making small changes to boost sales is over.
Pride in Japanese Craftsmanship Tripods mean shooting good images = smooth movements and stopping sharply, no vibration, even locked! When we were only considering marketing, we’d neglected this fundamental concept.
What needed to be done when returning to Japan’s craftsmanship was to pursue a Japanese production style. For example, manufacturers in other countries carve many of their parts, but even though it ensures accuracy, the cost doesn’t decrease.
But when you make molds or casts, the product cost goes down and you can beat the competition.
It felt like there was no other way to win, but we reconsidered our technical skills and pursued Japanese craftsmanship, which boosted the morale of our manufacturing and technical divisions.
The QD series is expanding in the global market, and this successful experience has been a confidence-builder for our team.
It’s becoming clear what Libec should do in future, and our mentality has changed dramatically.
Because of this we were able to develop quickly many of the new products we’re launching this fall.
The mood at our company is very positive, and our employees are proud that there are many things that can only be done in Japan.