17 November 2016
Tokyo-based logistics company Sankyu has expanded globally to become a recognized player in the transportation industry. In its nearly 100-year history, its core values of sincerity, service and dependability have never changed; values that are also strongly upheld by UD Trucks. The two companies are gearing up to expand their close partnership for an even brighter future.
“No matter where I am, whether in Japan or overseas, I pledge sincerity to our customers,” says Katsuyuki Iwamaru, the Group Manager and General Manager of Sankyu trucking department. Serving customers with down-to-earth humbleness is at the heart of Sankyu’s philosophy.
Humbleness, or kenkyo, is a Japanese trait that permeates Sankyu and helped it become a leading transportation company in Japan. Today the parent company, Sankyu Inc., has a 20-billion yen operating income, employs more than 30,000 people and is listed on both the Tokyo and Fukuoka stock exchanges.
Its logistics arm is the third largest transportation company in Japan with 40 branches, while 40 other offices give it a presence overseas, mainly in China and South East Asia.
When Sankyu started adding UD trucks to its fleet, it discovered that UD Trucks shares the same philosophies and traits. The two companies follow similar business principles that have cemented their long-term partnership.
“At Sankyu, it’s our company policy to do our best to provide extra services,” explains Shunichi Naito, a senior managing director at Sankyu Transport Tokyo. “If we see our customers getting into trouble, we do everything to rescue them even if it goes beyond what we have contracted.” They get the same considerate treatment from UD Trucks too. “UD services are wonderful. They take care of vehicle inspection and respond to our requests in an emergency.”
“The aftermarket service department at UD Trucks responds quickly and our maintenance costs are relatively low. Compared to other brands, UD Trucks is certainly a cut above,” explains Shigemi Fujieda, the Vice Director at the Tochigi office of Sankyu Transports Tokyo.
With his drivers in mind, Fujieda also appreciates how UD trucks have been evolving to support their business. “Now the UD Quons are fitted with air suspension which makes them a very comfortable ride. And the smooth drivetrain and seamless gear changes of the ESCOT-V gearbox help to reduce the burden on our drivers.”
Yuji Seita, truck driver at Sankyu Transport with more than 20 years of trucking, is also a big fan of the continual upgrades that UD Trucks brings to the Quon. “I love the ESCOT-V gearbox, which makes gear changes very smooth. And above all, I like the power of the engine!”
Close to the gemba*
Like many of the business managers at Sankyu Transport, Fujieda was a truck driver himself before moving into his management position.
The name Sankyu sounds like the English “thank you” and reflects the company’s sincerity and the value it places not only on its customers, but also its employees. “People are everything in this company. We don’t use the words ‘human resource’, we call it ‘human treasure’,” explains the Group Manager, Iwamaru.
By cherishing their employees and providing opportunities for them to develop inside the company Sankyu now has a ‘home-grown’ management team that connects strongly with their ground operation.
They may be office based today, but they are still passionate about providing a consistent, quality service to customers at the end of the logistics chain. From contributing to company policy, ensuring compliance to internal and external regulations, and managing drivers, Fujieda and his team in the Tokyo office are still very much at the heart of the delivery business.
This kind of gemba spirit is as much in UD’s DNA, as it is in Sankyu’s. And Sankyu people bring the gemba spirit with them when they expand overseas. When Iwamaru, the group manager was posted to the Shanghai office he first surveyed the routes by accompanying the drivers across China. “For my customers, I wanted to be able to explain the route where their products would be carried on our trucks,” he says.
A sense of service, attention to detail and humility underpins Sankyu’s success for nearly 100 years, and strengthens the partnership between Sankyu and UD Trucks.
As Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Olympic Games, Sankyu is buying more UD trucks and employing extra drivers in readiness for the construction work the capital will undergo in the run up to the Games.
*Gemba is a Japanese word which means “being on the scene”. Gemba supports people’s actions on site, encouraging them to remain grounded, identify the key issues, and drive the solution toward better efficiency at all times. Gemba is also the backbone of UD Trucks’ philosophy.