On track

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Tokuyama Malaysia
Akira Sanuki, President and Managing Director, Tokuyama Malaysia

Tokuyama Corporation is a Japanese conglomerate with more than 90 years of history and billions of dollars in assets and revenue. It is one of the global leaders in the manufacturing and production of a wide range of chemical products for a variety of markets and industries. Tokuyama has chosen Sarawak as a location for its first-ever substantial manufacturing facility outside Japan which is currently being built and will produce polycrystalline silicon from 2013. Inside investor caught up with Akira Sanuki, President and Managing Director, Tokuyama Malaysia, to learn more about the company’s objectives in Malaysia.

Q: Tokuyama started its activities in Malaysia in 2009. How are things going ahead?

 A: We are on schedule and are now approaching mechanical completion of our first polycristalline silicon plant, having recruited employees we are now training them.

Q: How many people does your company employ in Malaysia?

A: About 300 directly, but together with our subvendors there are almost 500 people in the first stage. In Kuching we have 20, and some at our office in Bintulu, and the rest on the site at the Samalaju Industrial Park. We aim to hire our staff mainly from Sarawak, because this state is unique in Malaysia. We hire local people and send them to Japan for training, for more than one year. Others are trained on the construction site in Samalaju. Altogether, when we complete the second phase, we will have around 1,000 employees.

Q: Last year, it has been announced that Tokuyama Corp will invest another $1.2 billion into a second phase with start of construction in February 2012. Is everything on track, including the planned production start of the first phase in 2013?

A: Yes, we are on track with the first phase to commence operations in June 2013. We have also started the piling work for the second plant, which will start operations in 2014. We have very good experience with the people here in Sarawak in terms of keeping the construction schedules. This strictness for schedule is somehow one of Japanese nature.

Q: What kind of training facilities do you have here?

A: We are training the staff the handling of chemicals and the operation of the machines in our training center. We also train them on the meaning of all operational indicators, as the responsibility of this work is quite high and people have to be focused. Health and safety training is a priority.

Q: Coming from Japan, which has a quite different business culture from Sarawak, what have been the challenges to adapt to the business environment here?

A: I noticed that people in Malaysia want to develop their career within an industry sector regardless what company they are working for, while in Japan people want to develop their career within a company. This is a big difference. Especially in heavy chemical industrial company in Japan, workers are given long-term training period in order to maintain our product quality and operate safely. Therefore it is our pleasure to see company development and worker’s career development together. To achieve this, communication is very important. They need to get to know and comprehend the Japanese managing style.People here are very receptive, so we look and hope in the future.

Q: What is your personal background? You were the one who suggested the project in Samalaju to Tokuyama?

A: I started in Japan, and then went to Indonesia and Philippines for Tokuyama. After that I went back to Japan again and then came here to Malaysia in 2008 when the decision fell to build this factory here. I myself found this place and suggested it to the company. One factor was that we have a good electricity supply here which is crucial for production. Polycrystalline silicon production consumes a huge amount of electricity. Near to the industrial park is the Bakun Dam hydroelectric plant which produces large amounts of stable, reliable electricity at a competitive, stable price. Furthermore, we got support from the state, the federal government, and from MIDA. However, negotiations were hard at times.

Q: How about the infrastructure? Did you find issues?

A: I was surprised. Even in China, you have ready-made infrastructure at all sites. But here, they developed it only after we started. Our management and employees at first had to commute from Bintulu to Samalaju on a congested road where we also will have to transport our raw materials and products in future which will lead to more congestion, I fear. The government will have to look at this as it is a big problem for us. Other issues are weak telecommunication lines, and poor data network. We don’t want an isolated plant, so we need optical fiber fixed line communication for data transfer and Internet. We are confident that this will be put in place by the State.

Q: Where will you be exporting?

A: The first plant will deliver 6,000 tons of silicon per year to the mother company in Japan. In the second phase, we have to consider new customers, and we will sell to other destinations too. The main users of our products are manufacturers of semiconductors and photovoltaic cells. This Malaysian plant will be mainly aimed at photovoltaic cell producers. We also try to address the Malaysian market.

Q: What role does Corporate Social Responsibility play for Tokuyama,in the sense of “giving back to the people”?

A: We have strong roots in a community. Tokuyama has contributed to society in varied ways over a long period of our company’s history in Japan. Here in Malaysia, we are also trying to build up a relationship with the local communities, and the first thing they will benefit from us is the creation of various jobs.

Q: You’ve got two phases of construction now, will there be further expansion?

A: I didn’t even think of getting so far that fast. We have to forcast what the result would be after the second phase, and we have to come to a market stage. The first phase, as I said, will produce 6,200 tons of silicon, and together with the second phase we will produce 20,000 tons a year. This has to be achieved first before we think of further expansion. The total investment for now is RM8 billion for the first plant on 40 hectares and for the second plant on 30 hectares. We have to keep in mind the power consumption and the emission of the plants to remain in line with the environmental regulations also. That is our green approach.

Q: How is your experience of living in Sarawak?

A: Kuching is a good place. It’s not such a big city, but it is also not that rural. We can use English, it’s easy for communication. As Malaysia is a country of perpetual summer, we don’t have to worry daily weather report. I like to stay here.

Tokuyama's first plant in Sarawak

 

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Akira Sanuki, President and Managing Director, Tokuyama Malaysia

Tokuyama Corporation is a Japanese conglomerate with more than 90 years of history and billions of dollars in assets and revenue. It is one of the global leaders in the manufacturing and production of a wide range of chemical products for a variety of markets and industries. Tokuyama has chosen Sarawak as a location for its first-ever substantial manufacturing facility outside Japan which is currently being built and will produce polycrystalline silicon from 2013. Inside investor caught up with Akira Sanuki, President and Managing Director, Tokuyama Malaysia, to learn more about the company’s objectives in Malaysia.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Tokuyama Malaysia
Akira Sanuki, President and Managing Director, Tokuyama Malaysia

Tokuyama Corporation is a Japanese conglomerate with more than 90 years of history and billions of dollars in assets and revenue. It is one of the global leaders in the manufacturing and production of a wide range of chemical products for a variety of markets and industries. Tokuyama has chosen Sarawak as a location for its first-ever substantial manufacturing facility outside Japan which is currently being built and will produce polycrystalline silicon from 2013. Inside investor caught up with Akira Sanuki, President and Managing Director, Tokuyama Malaysia, to learn more about the company’s objectives in Malaysia.

Q: Tokuyama started its activities in Malaysia in 2009. How are things going ahead?

 A: We are on schedule and are now approaching mechanical completion of our first polycristalline silicon plant, having recruited employees we are now training them.

Q: How many people does your company employ in Malaysia?

A: About 300 directly, but together with our subvendors there are almost 500 people in the first stage. In Kuching we have 20, and some at our office in Bintulu, and the rest on the site at the Samalaju Industrial Park. We aim to hire our staff mainly from Sarawak, because this state is unique in Malaysia. We hire local people and send them to Japan for training, for more than one year. Others are trained on the construction site in Samalaju. Altogether, when we complete the second phase, we will have around 1,000 employees.

Q: Last year, it has been announced that Tokuyama Corp will invest another $1.2 billion into a second phase with start of construction in February 2012. Is everything on track, including the planned production start of the first phase in 2013?

A: Yes, we are on track with the first phase to commence operations in June 2013. We have also started the piling work for the second plant, which will start operations in 2014. We have very good experience with the people here in Sarawak in terms of keeping the construction schedules. This strictness for schedule is somehow one of Japanese nature.

Q: What kind of training facilities do you have here?

A: We are training the staff the handling of chemicals and the operation of the machines in our training center. We also train them on the meaning of all operational indicators, as the responsibility of this work is quite high and people have to be focused. Health and safety training is a priority.

Q: Coming from Japan, which has a quite different business culture from Sarawak, what have been the challenges to adapt to the business environment here?

A: I noticed that people in Malaysia want to develop their career within an industry sector regardless what company they are working for, while in Japan people want to develop their career within a company. This is a big difference. Especially in heavy chemical industrial company in Japan, workers are given long-term training period in order to maintain our product quality and operate safely. Therefore it is our pleasure to see company development and worker’s career development together. To achieve this, communication is very important. They need to get to know and comprehend the Japanese managing style.People here are very receptive, so we look and hope in the future.

Q: What is your personal background? You were the one who suggested the project in Samalaju to Tokuyama?

A: I started in Japan, and then went to Indonesia and Philippines for Tokuyama. After that I went back to Japan again and then came here to Malaysia in 2008 when the decision fell to build this factory here. I myself found this place and suggested it to the company. One factor was that we have a good electricity supply here which is crucial for production. Polycrystalline silicon production consumes a huge amount of electricity. Near to the industrial park is the Bakun Dam hydroelectric plant which produces large amounts of stable, reliable electricity at a competitive, stable price. Furthermore, we got support from the state, the federal government, and from MIDA. However, negotiations were hard at times.

Q: How about the infrastructure? Did you find issues?

A: I was surprised. Even in China, you have ready-made infrastructure at all sites. But here, they developed it only after we started. Our management and employees at first had to commute from Bintulu to Samalaju on a congested road where we also will have to transport our raw materials and products in future which will lead to more congestion, I fear. The government will have to look at this as it is a big problem for us. Other issues are weak telecommunication lines, and poor data network. We don’t want an isolated plant, so we need optical fiber fixed line communication for data transfer and Internet. We are confident that this will be put in place by the State.

Q: Where will you be exporting?

A: The first plant will deliver 6,000 tons of silicon per year to the mother company in Japan. In the second phase, we have to consider new customers, and we will sell to other destinations too. The main users of our products are manufacturers of semiconductors and photovoltaic cells. This Malaysian plant will be mainly aimed at photovoltaic cell producers. We also try to address the Malaysian market.

Q: What role does Corporate Social Responsibility play for Tokuyama,in the sense of “giving back to the people”?

A: We have strong roots in a community. Tokuyama has contributed to society in varied ways over a long period of our company’s history in Japan. Here in Malaysia, we are also trying to build up a relationship with the local communities, and the first thing they will benefit from us is the creation of various jobs.

Q: You’ve got two phases of construction now, will there be further expansion?

A: I didn’t even think of getting so far that fast. We have to forcast what the result would be after the second phase, and we have to come to a market stage. The first phase, as I said, will produce 6,200 tons of silicon, and together with the second phase we will produce 20,000 tons a year. This has to be achieved first before we think of further expansion. The total investment for now is RM8 billion for the first plant on 40 hectares and for the second plant on 30 hectares. We have to keep in mind the power consumption and the emission of the plants to remain in line with the environmental regulations also. That is our green approach.

Q: How is your experience of living in Sarawak?

A: Kuching is a good place. It’s not such a big city, but it is also not that rural. We can use English, it’s easy for communication. As Malaysia is a country of perpetual summer, we don’t have to worry daily weather report. I like to stay here.

Tokuyama's first plant in Sarawak

 

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