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Colcoat: the final touch of innovation

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Interview - August 15, 2019

With 150 employees, Colcoat is by definition a small company but the importance of its chemical silicate, anti-static agent and optronic products across a wide range of industries cannot be understated – nor can the expertise and capacity for innovation it has developed over its more than 60-year history. We sit down with president Yumiko Noguchi, who tells more about Colcoat’s high-tech products, their applications and the customers that use them.

 

YUMIKO NOGUCHI, PRESIDENT OF COLCOAT CO., LTD.
YUMIKO NOGUCHI | PRESIDENT OF COLCOAT CO., LTD.

In the last half of the 20th century Japan revolutionized the consumer goods product market. However, in recent years we have seen the rise of regional competitors that have emulated certain aspects of Monozukuri at a cheaper cost. One might have thought that Japanese companies were doomed to failure; however we see that they have remained leaders in high-added-value specialized manufacturing niche markets. How do you explain this and can you explain to our readers the advantages of Japanese Monozukuri?

Generally, I believe what unites Japanese manufacturers is the passion towards what they produce. Japanese consumers are quite demanding and producers have adapted to always try to improve in order to satisfy these needs.

At Colcoat, we realized a long time ago that lower labor cost countries would eventually catch up to our technologies and therefore we had to come up with several solutions. One example is to optimize our production processes to reduce costs. Another is to further develop our technology and come up with new products.

In Japan we have this word “Kaizen” which means improvement. At Colcoat we adapted this philosophy and strive to produce high quality products at reasonable prices.

Our company philosophy reads: Daily hardship and struggle. We need to overcome the challenges that we face and succeed in our operations to help meet our clients’ demands. The synthetic chemicals industry requires a very high level of quality and cannot tolerate deficiencies.

 

Your company has existed for more than 60 years. Could you tell us more about your history and most important milestones?

My father, Yukio Noguchi, founded this company after the Second World War. At that time he was working in a pharmaceutical company. Through his experience of plant engineering, he planned to start a new company to manufacture Ethyl Silicate products which were not produced in Japan at that time. Having already extensive know how and technical solutions, he saw an opportunity in the market and started this company, Colcoat.

Another key milestone of our company was the development of an anti-static agent for plastic, “Colcoat”. Mr. Noguchi also introduced this product, with its key advantage being the enhanced dust proof properties of the material it is applied to, like Acrylic for example.

We built very strong relationship with Mitsubishi Chemical and rapidly expanded our operations and production facilities. We focused on coming up with more applications for our anti-static agents for the future. One example would be the lighting equipment in the Shinkansen Hikari Super Express train in which our Colcoat was coated on plastic covers.

We currently have more than 1000 customers in different sectors such as food packaging, semiconductors, functional films, electronics, assembly processes, paints, automotive and robotics, just to name a few.

We are always looking for partners to offer our products. However in the chemical industry, the evaluation process in order to approve a product takes very long, from two years and up to 10 years to enter to mass production. This process is the key in order to prevent future inconsistencies in the production lines.

 

Could you tell us more about your plans for international strategy?

In 2011, Colcoat established a daughter company in Thailand for several reasons. The main one being geographical, due to its proximity to China and India where we see great potential for growth. Also there was an advantage of stable power supply and many manufacturing companies of electronic and automotive fields established their subsidiaries there.

 

You are now the president of the company. What would you like to accomplish during your time in the company and what would you like your legacy to be for future generations?

The most important is to continue developing high quality new products that satisfy the needs of our customers. We consider ourselves as one of hidden champions, and like to think that we support the lifestyle of our consumers from behind the scenes. In the future I would like this philosophy to continue and lead us to new horizons.

 

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