Murata Manufacturing is one of Japan’s secret success stories. Founded in 1944 by Akira Murata (his grandson Tsuneo is now President), the Kyoto-based company has a dominant market share in ceramic components for mobile phones and other devices. It reached a record net sales level in the year to March 2014 of Y846bn, and an impressive operating income ratio of nearly 15%. A very high proportion of its sales are overseas, although as it has less than 2000 of its 48,000 employees in Europe, it’s not in our Europe Top 30. (Disclosure – they are however an important customer of Japan Intercultural Consulting Europe)
A recent Nikkei Business article (Japanese, subscription required) puts its success down to two factors. Firstly, technological prowess, and secondly, that it has a rigorous policy of delegating decisions to local operations, enabling it to make quick decisions. Tsuneo Murata cheekily compares this to the slowness of Nokia and Ericsson. High potential employees in their twenties and thirties are developed to become specialist “decision makers”, to focus on customers and are pulled away from routine operations.
Tsuneo Murata is not resting on his laurels however, and is moving into the healthcare sector, through M&A. Murata acquired Finnish 3D MEMS sensors company VTI Technologies in 2012 and wasted no time in immediately rebranding it as Murata Electronics Oy.
Tsuneo Murata himself says he is not the charismatic leader type, but as the Nikkei concludes, he does not lack confidence.
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