You were a resident employee in the US two years after joining the company.
I joined in 1991 and after seeing the overall image of management at the group headquarters, I moved to the US where I worked for 10 years from 1993. I was given the full treatment on Unidenism: the art of devising strategy and carrying out business negotiations. In 2004, I returned to Japan once and then left to oversee the Europe and Asia markets.
At that time, Europe and Asia were frontiers for Uniden.
The Europe section was only doing 1 billion yen a year. My mission was to do something about this. The aim was to expand Uniden's market and distribute the risk of having all our eggs in just the US market.
Tell us exactly how you carried out these business negotiations.
At first we were going after individual countries like England and Germany. But then we decided to "aim for the bigger picture", and the decision was made to become an OEM supplier to global brands. In other words, we needed the economy of scale to be profitable as a manufacturer, and two to three years of sales work ensued. We were subject to strict document screenings and factory audits. Luckily for us, Uniden had an established reputation as a reliable company in the US. This helped business negotiations in Europe. Establishing a business channel for the cordless telephone DECT series was a major accomplishment for us
The front line has discretion in making business decisions.
Speed is everything; not just in Asia, but Europe as well. Business negotiations for developing a sales channel are something you propose yourself and carry out on your own, which is why the front line needs to have the authority to make actual business decisions, otherwise the negotiations will fail. Of course, directors are consulted when it comes to important matters, but most business decisions are made during negotiations.
What is the future direction of our business?
We are currently placing emphasis on the OEM business for PB products aimed at the major retailers. Meanwhile, we continue to grow our OEM business for global brands. The relentless downward trend of prices ("price destruction") is a trend of the times, even in Europe, and is not something we can ignore. But we believe we can ride the global wave of business by segregating our OEM offerings: mid- to high-end products for global brands, and low-priced products for retail PB.
Division Director, Sales Headquarters, International Sales
Joined company in 1991
Sawada pioneered OEM sales for the global market. He travels the world supplying products to the global brands everyone knows, laying down the foundation of the Uniden brand in emerging markets like Eastern Europe, India, and China.