United States : Big Differences and Small Differences

By Mutsuhiro Nagamatsu,
Representative in the U.S.
(The Hartz Mountain Corporation)

What do you know about the United States of America?

The country has a population of a little over 300 million, slightly more than double Japan’s. In terms of total land area, however, it is 25 times the size of Japan. The mainland alone has four different time zones. The sheer size of the country makes me feel that the old associations I had with the concept of a nation do not hold true here. The climate, too, does not fit neatly into single zone: Florida is semitropical, while in northern areas, around the Great Lakes, for example, it gets as cold as minus 20°C or even lower in winter. As the climate varies from area to area, so does the scenery. Such an extraordinarily vast area and the magnificent natural landscapes are key factors in the country’s quintessential appeal.

In terms of economy, culture, and the media, the de facto capital of the country is New York, (although of course, the official capital is Washington, D.C.), which consistently projects a strong influence over the rest of the world and is never out of the global spotlight. One of the major diving forces of this powerful and influential city is its diversity - I have heard that some 40 percent of the city’s residents were born outside the country.

It may seem as though the United States is the center of the world in many respects. But after living here, I can see that this impression is not necessarily correct. Takes weights and measures, for example. Length is measured in yards and feet, weight is expressed in pounds and ounce, the unit of volume is gallons, and the temperature scale is Fahrenheit. All of these units are very unfamiliar to Japanese people, and it took me considerable time to get use to them. There were actually some attempts to bring the country into line with global standards during the Carter and Clinton administrations. However, there seems to be little, if not zero, possibility that the U.S. will make the move and adopt the universally accepted measurement system. Maybe they are proud of their existing system or maybe they just think it’s too much of a hassle to change.

Hartz® products

My unfamiliarity with American customs has caused me to make quite a few mistakes, particularly during the period after I first arrived. One time, I was supposed to hold a meeting on August 9, but the attendees didn’t show up until September 8. This was because in the memo I sent, the meeting date was written in the European style! I also learned how to write on an envelope properly after a letter that I had sent came back to me for the third time. I finally realized that I should have written the receiver’s name and address above that of the sender’s.
Now, let me tell you about the company that I am currently working with. The Hartz Mountain Corporation is a leading U.S.-based pet supplies company, founded in 1926. The company was acquired by the Sumitomo Corporation Group in June 2004 and has been striving to increase its business value day in and day out under the new ownership. It boasts a vast variety of items in its product portfolio, ranging from products for dogs and cats to those for birds, fish, and other animals. You have to have a good memory to remember them all!

I have been working in the Corporate Planning Department since July 2010. My key responsibilities include supporting the development and procurement of flea and tick controlling products using the knowledge I gained when I was in charge of insecticides in Japan, assisting the management team to develop business strategies and serving as the shareholder liaison.

With six out of ten U.S. households sharing their home with some kind of companion animal, the U.S. is the world’s largest pet product market. To survive and excel in this marketplace, we must keep offering competitive products that are attractive to leading supermarkets, pet product retailers, and consumers, otherwise known as pet owners. If we fail at this, the company will not achieve growth. This means that product development and commercialization is overridingly important, and I am accordingly engaged in many cross-sectional activities involving marketing, R&D, manufacturing, sales, supply chain, and many others.

During such interdisciplinary activities, I always strive to ensure those activities follow Sumitomo Corporation Group’s Activity Guidelinesand thereby create additional value. As the cliché goes, it is of course easier said than done. I have to admit that practicing what the guidelines preach in the real business environment is sometimes quite a challenge. Still, I try to actively communicate with the people I work with and share opinions with them in an honest and frank manner.

Some Hartz products have been available in Japan since March 2008. If you are looking for quality products for your beloved dogs and cats, please take a look at the website: http://www.hartz.jp

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