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Misumi Brings Low-Volume Operation To U.S.

Tokyo-based supplier of industrial machine and automation components has taken what it claims is a unique approach to market expansion.

CHICAGO -- Tokyo-based Misumi, a supplier of industrial machine and automation components, has taken what it claims is a unique approach to market expansion.

Although it’s not rare to see foreign manufacturers bring production to the U.S. in order to get closer to this sizeable market, it’s not every day that they attempt to gain market share one component at a time. But this is, literally, the approach Misumi is taking.

“Our strategy is to provide components of all quantities and for multiple machine types,” states President Masanori Suzuki, whose company amassed over $1 billion in global sales last year. This includes orders that include single items picked from among the 500,000 they offer, with no minimum quantity or cost restrictions.

This purchasing flexibility stems from a drive to address what Suzuki feels are the most prominent issues American manufacturers face in staying competitive -- cutting costs, reducing down time and ensuring quality.

Misumi’s on-line, customized ordering capabilities have resulted in nearly half of their orders being made to order, with delivery in three days to a week.

“Although our business in China is growing, Japan and the U.S. carry as much as three times the market capacity,” adds Suzuki, who said that establishing production and getting U.S suppliers on-board with orders that could include only a single item, has been a challenge.

But for the company and its president, these are obstacles worth hurdling in attempting to grow market share in what they see as their primary expansion target, even with the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economy.