Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day Three -- Visit to Aisin Seiki

Last night we attended a "Friends of Indiana" reception on the top of the Imperial Hotel. It was a very formal and well attended event with over 100 dignitaries and business professionals in attendance. The feedback we are receiving is quite positive -- there is a lot of incredible momentum and excitement and many of the Japanese executives and companies are very open to learning more about Indiana and the economic opportunities. The time and effort the Governor has spent developing relationships is really paying off.

We took the bullet train to Nagoya this morning. It is the third largest city in Japan and one of the fastest growing. The infrastructure, and mass transit, is fast and efficient not to mention neat and clean. The train crosses the country and travels approximately 200 mph. There is a vast contrast between the big city of Tokyo and the rural areas we saw on the train.

Once we arrived in Nagoya we took a bus ride to Aisin Seiki, a large Japanese manufacturer. There are 153 companies under the Aisin umbrella with approximately 20 billion in sales and 3,300 employees. They have a presence in Rushville, Seymour, and Terre Haute. The facility we visited makes brakes for automobiles and manufactures about 360,000 pieces a month.

There are very formal "executive" office suites, or corner offices, but rather long conference room tables with laptops so the employees and staff have very little privacy. Overall the Japanese workplace culture is very organized and methodical. Even the nine different trash containers we saw were organized by type of refuse.

During the plant tour, I was surprised to see few employees in the assembly line, rather everything is robotic and sensor driven. Safety, as you can imagine, is a top priority, especially since a fire broke out in the facility several decades ago. Before you enter the factory, for example, you must go through an air shower, similar to those in airports.