The beginning of the year has given us time for reflection. 2019 was a big year for Wollam Construction. As a team, we completed some really great projects and are working on a handful of others. Together, we are working towards our goals. Along with reflecting over our company’s wins and losses, we also thought back on our trip with Komatsu in April.
Komatsu is one of Wollam’s equipment vendor partners.
Last year, the Komastu team invited us on a trip to visit their facilities as one of their larger Utah based clients. A few members of our team, along with other companies who were also invited, visited a few spots in Japan. We traveled from Tokyo to Komatsu to Kyoto. In Komatsu, we visited the plants that consisted of multiple facilities. (Komatsu also has plants in the United States, but certain machines and some parts are built in Japan.)
The Komatsu facilities were incredible. Their team walked us through their machine-building processes. From how they assemble to making specific parts, our group saw it all. Along with visiting their facilities, we also met the top leaders at Komatsu and plant managers.
Matt Wollam explained that one of his highlights of the trip was having dinner with leaders. Matt even had the opportunity to sit next to the President and CEO of Komatsu Worldwide, Hiroyuki Ogawa.
Matt expressed, “It amazed me that they took the time to spend the evening with us. The Japanese working culture also really impressed us. Plant managers have worked there for over 30 years. The CEO has worked at Komatsu for 32. Even the employees working in the assembly lines will work there for the majority of their careers.”
During the visit, Komatsu showed the group equipment they plan on releasing in the future. The company is focusing a lot of its efforts on smart technology. We had a first-hand view of some of the technology they are currently working on, including big machinery and small. This equipment will dramatically change the way the industry works. Fortunately, after seeing it for ourselves, we can’t wait to see how it will improve ours.
Not only did the team invite us to see what they are working on, but they wanted to know how our thoughts. Engineers kept asking members of our group how we think they can improve their equipment.
“Komatsu engineers would ask the contractors for feedback. They’d ask us what we thought was missing if we had any concerns with the current equipment or the future. They were open to hearing improvements from us, the customer,” said Matt.
Along with visiting the facilities in Komatsu, we also went sight-seeing in Kyoto. The entire city was blooming as it was cherry blossom season. It was also exciting to see architecture and life in Japan first-hand. One of our team’s most memorable experiences was on a night out in Tokyo.
Matt reflected on that night, saying, “A few of us decided to walk through the city to get back to our hotel. We ended up in a random sushi bar telling the sushi chef and bartender where we lived. Immediately their faces lit up when they heard we were from Utah. They said, “Stockton to Malone!” We didn’t realize how much they loved the NBA.”
Matt continued, “The Japanese people love American music, film, and sports. They are baseball fanatics, and we even saw a few stadiums there. But their love of American culture was nothing compared to our appreciation for theirs. It was extremely refreshing to see the pride that people had in their country. Everyone took extra care to keep the city spotless. There was no garbage or public garbage cans.”
All in all, the trip was a success. Not only did we enjoy our time, but we grew our bond with Komatsu. We always try to build partnerships with our clients, including vendors and subcontractors. When we have the same goals and values in business as them, life is much easier. For us, it isn’t only about who offers the most cost-effective price, but it is more about the partnership and service we can rely on.