We spoke with newly-minted general manager, Hisashi Tada, who joins Kornit Japan at its most critical time of growth in the wake of COVID-19.
Kornit Digital, one of the market leaders for industrial, digital textile printing technology, announced the appointment of Hisashi Tada as its new general manager for Japan. Tada has been in the printing and technology space for more than 20 years already, primarily in inkjet technologies. In that time, he has held various sales and management positions in multinational companies such as Océ, HP and Fujifilm. Tada joins Kornit from EFI, where he has held a position for the last three years.
“I’m delighted to be here in an amazing company which is completely focused on providing the best solutions possible to help our customers grow,” said Tada. “The apparel & textile industry is one of great frontiers for digitalisation. The process of moving to digital gives us a lot of benefits such as sustainability, optimisation of the supply chain as well as reducing waste of both time and materials. We can contribute to the health of the planet and provide healthy, sustainable growth for our customers.”
Asia Pacific is expected to witness growth at a CAGR of 9.5% from 2019 to 2025 in terms of revenue. According to a study by Grand View Research on the global printed textile industry, the growth is on account of the increasing consumption of printed clothing in countries like Japan.
“The textile industry in Japan, especially for direct-to-garment (DTG) is very strong. The great thing from Kornit’s point of view is that we already have an excellent DTG customer base, which I believe still has huge potential for growth, and a pretty untapped roll to roll, direct-to-fabric (DTF) market,” said Tada.
“Of course, with DTF there are several traditional digital technologies such as, reactive, acid and disperse, but pigment is emerging very quickly, and I believe that with Japan’s focus on sustainability and green technology this offers us a huge opportunity,” Tada added.
Progressing in a COVID-19 World
In 2019, Kornit Digital had a stellar year of growth in Japan. The company installed the most number of presses in the country for Asia, and was primed for further growth in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world by storm, taking a toll on industries all over the globe.
“I believe that with the current coronavirus situation, Japan has a great opportunity to reshore production which plays to our advantage. Japanese companies are typically pretty risk-averse, and this will be a time for them to reconsider where and importantly, how, they produce,” said Tada. “One thing is for sure, the time to market that today’s consumers demand will not change, so more suitable supply chain will be critical. Traditional methods won’t be able to deliver, but digital of course will.”
The outbreak may have slowed others down, but it appears to have barely caused a dent in Kornit’s plans. According to Tada, it has opened up opportunities for some of its customers: “On a positive front, we have had several of our international customers, who are a little behind Asia in their coronavirus experience, come to us to find production partners across Asia. The great thing about the Kornit customer-base in Japan is that we have an amazing, professional network of printers able to supply very high-quality work to other Kornit users anywhere in the world.”
In addition, one of Kornit’s customers in Japan is currently beta-testing the Konnect workflow management software. Kornit Konnect is a new cloud-based, mobile workflow software platform that enables businesses to maximize productivity of their digital printing solutions. Another one of its customers is also in the middle of implementing Custom Gateway, an ecommerce solution provided by one of Kornit’s technology partners.
Another Presto system in Japan appears to be underway, as Tada revealed that they are in discussion with a “very prominent Japanese textile business”. The Presto is Kornit’s single-step solution for DTF printing, eliminating the need to pre- and post-treat fabric.
For its current customers, Kornit Digital has put in place a support system in these COVID-19 times. Tada emphasized on the importance of customised support and available communication channels.
“First, we must keep a regular and close cadence of communication with our customers and our partners in order to understand their individual situations. Some customers of course have been affected more than most, and for them we have prepared special guidelines to maintain their systems in readiness for a restart when the coronavirus has finally gone,” said Tada.
Customer Growth equals Company Growth
As one of Kornit’s key markets, Japan demands for high quality, sustainability, and productivity. Tada’s main priority in his new role is to highlight Kornit’s commitment to post-sales services and customer empowerment.
“Outside of the coronavirus which we all hope will end very quickly, it’s about finding scale, moving to a more brand-focused mentality and providing a holistic service and support package to customers. Sales generally sell the first system, but the second, third and fourth solutions rely on the customer having an amazing post-sale experience. It’s the responsibility of Kornit, and our partners in Japan to provide an amazing experience to our customers,” said Tada.
When asked what has been attributing to Kornit’s success in Japan in the past, Tada asserted that effective channel partners and positive customer experiences has been the two major parts.
“Great channels to market and leveraging positive customer experiences have helped us a lot. Japan is a market that is obsessed by quality, and the quality that Kornit systems deliver is exceptional,” explained Tada. “Although we have competition in the Japanese market from local brands, we are the leading industrial player by a long way. Many customers who have grown their businesses by using many small systems understand that to get to the next level they must use Kornit.”
Much like in other markets, Kornit works through channel partners in Japan, supported by Kornit sales and technical professionals.
“Kornit solutions have an excellent reputation, and many companies understand the opportunities that they bring in order to allow them to grow their businesses. Our job is to empower our partners to be more active as evangelists of Kornit solutions. With their partnership we can expand and grow dramatically in the next few years,” said Tada.
It’s still very early days for me, but we have many great customers who have built very solid businesses by using Kornit technology. Last year was an excellent year for Kornit in Japan, and my job is to ensure that our customers have an understanding of where we are going as a company, and where they can take their business if they share our incredible vision,” Tada concluded.
First published in Issue 04/2020 of Print Innovation Asia.