Strengthening Your Network

JMEC 16 Success: Project Client Instant UpRight Hires JMEC Participant to Implement the Business Plan

Irish company Instant UpRight (IU) is a global provider of access solutions for the aviation, power generation and industrial markets. The company manufactures and supplies INSTANT alloy tower system and custom-engineered scaffolding.

IU sought opportunities to expand their market in Japan.

The situation:

In 2009 they commissioned JMEC to develop a business plan for expanding sales of their industrial products (mobile towers and the boiler access solutions) in the Japanese market.

IU had been selling mobile towers through one distributor in Japan and they wanted JMEC to look into the potential for expanding their distributor network. In addition, IU also sought a market entry strategy for their boiler access solutions.

JMEC findings and recommendations:

Mobile towers: mature market with low margins and high competition.

The JMEC team recommended expanding the business through seeking additional distributors.

Boiler access solutions: niche market with high profitability; it would need a few years to get the first sale.

The JMEC team recommended that setting up a subsidiary in Japan was not necessary as long as frequent communication between Japan and Ireland allowed for the development of a business network in Japan.

Implementation of the JMEC recommendations:

Mari Yamakawa was part of a six-people strong JMEC team that prepared a business plan for IU. All JMEC team members became very knowledgeable about IU’s business and its product offering.

From June, right after the JMEC team had handed in their final business plan to the client, Yamakawa was asked to help IU with setting up meetings and contacting possible customers in Japan.

In November Yamakawa was hired as Sales Consultant for IU.

“The industry we are targeting is very traditional. It is important to have a liaison person between IU and potential customers in Japan who speaks Japanese fluently and who understands Japanese business culture.”

Her new job involves finding and acquiring potential customers in Japan, setting up meetings with them for the IU’s Business Development Manager, who is based in Ireland but comes to Japan on business trips, and help him communicate with potential customers in Japan.

Yamakawa is pushing sales of boiler access solutions, their special access product, while IU’s distributer in Japan continues to sell mobile towers, their standard product. These boiler access solutions are used to maintain the boilers at mainly thermal power plants.

She has been contacting and talking to the companies that are working with boiler makers, with power plants and trading firms involved in power plant management.

“We are asked to quote for new projects but these projects will only commence in five years time. The communication process and decision-making process takes a long time.”

Yamakawa hopes to get the first boiler access sales in Japan for IU and she has a strategy to move forward.

After talking to engineers at thermal (coal-fired) power plants in Japan, she found that these plants are trying to improve the efficiency of technology used for power generations and also to reduce CO2 emissions. This is mainly done by replacing old power plants. Yamakawa realized that there was a great business potential for IU in helping these companies upgrade their technology.

“I believe that building strong business relationship with these power plants will help IU grow its business in Japan”.

What has JMEC and her new role at IU brought to Yamakawa?

“I have learned to look at the whole picture when considering a company's business. Having a background in finance, I used to analyze a company by numbers. However, now I know that I also need to understand market regulations and a company’s external influences. I also need to understand potential customers and what their business needs are.”

“Considering the current situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant, I think about the situation of Japan’s power industry a lot. If I had not done the IU project at JMEC, I would not care as much as I do now about where our electricity comes from.”