Industryweek 6354 Toshiba Houston 1

Take Five: Q&A with Tatsuo Doko, CEO Toshiba International Corporation

March 14, 2014
CEO says Houston's diverse talent pool and stability allows company to leverage a highly-skilled workforce that typifies that of the future. CEO points out that cost of doing business in Houston is more affordable than many other cities. Toshiba is active in the Japan Business Association of Houston and Japan America Society of Houston.

In Houston, a city that is home to 5,152 manufacturers who employ almost a quarter of a million workers, Toshiba is an important part of the region’s manufacturing strength.  In the past five years the company has expanded three times and now employs 1500.

The last expansion in July was a $20 million investment that enabled the company to double its production of its medium-voltage adjustable-speed drive product line. The product serves the oil and gas, mining, health care, and transmission and power distribution markets. The company also said the additional space could produce low-voltage adjustable-speed drives, motor starters and rail transit control systems.

However one of the company’s recent expansions in the fall of 2012 was especially significant as it was the first time the company began manufacturing hybrid motors in the U.S., moving production from Japan.

Q: Your recent Hybrid Electric Vehicle plant opening implies that your company is confident of an available workforce as you grow this site. What in particular convinced you of the talent?

Houston is truly unique when it comes to the workforce. While the city has long been recognized as a global energy hub, it is fast becoming a global engineering hub out of necessity. Houston’s diverse talent pool and stability also allow us to leverage a highly- skilled workforce that typifies that of the future.

Q: Has the Houston Japan Business Association, or other organizations, played a role in the continued expansion of your company in Texas in terms of embracing the Japanese culture?

Toshiba International Corp. (TIC) has been a long term member to Japan Business Association of Houston and Japan America Society of Houston.  These organizations support and contribute to embracing Japanese culture and Japanese companies activities locally and help TIC’s growth in Houston with its Japanese heritage and culture. 

Late last year Toshiba Corp. launched the TOMODACHI Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy to develop the next generation of Japanese and American scientists, engineers, and leaders.

Q: Are there any specific factors, programs or incentives offered by Texas that have encouraged to stay in the area and expand as opposed to moving to a different part of the U.S.?

Texas offers many incentives for businesses and the cost of doing business in Houston is more affordable than many other cities. Our existing infrastructure dating back more than 40 years has helped to expedite our recent expansions. The Port of Houston also is a tremendous asset to the region and key to our supply chains.

Q: What are the particular reasons behind your recent five-year commitment to the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute?

The Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute is focused on expediting the development of wide bandgap semiconductor technology. This technology will impact businesses and consumers alike through the development of more efficient and cost-effective power electronics.

Power electronics products, one of our core business areas, are projected to utilize 80% of all power generation by 2030. Among the benefits to TIC is reduced energy consumption in our products and operations and an increasing number of high-quality manufacturing jobs.

Q: As your company was recently named one of the most innovative by what are the factors that had led to this distinction?

Toshiba has a thorough history of engineering firsts dating back to the 1800s and marked by our willingness to invent custom solutions for a near infinite range of industries. As a company we value global training opportunities and employee input, which are key components in sustaining the attitudes of innovation that drive our businesses.

Q: Do you have a personal philosophy as to how a company, such as yours, is able to remain competitive in a very tough market?

TIC experienced rapid growth in emerging from the recession and I credit our commitment to customers and long-term vision for solutions. We emphasize stability and efficiency, which are critical to sustaining our commitment and vision.

Check out IW's complete "Take 5" series, a regular section featuring interviews with top executives.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!