100 Next-Era Leaders in Asia 2016-2017 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

Smoca Dentifrice Co., Ltd.

President & CEO Kazuhito Fujino

1967
Birthplace
Kanagawa Prefecture
Message to young people
In the past, a person was required to be cooperative, but I think it is the other way around today. First, you have to arm yourself with your own weapons. The weapons are something you are good at or something you are trying to do, that’s all. It’s important to sharpen your weapons to make them the best among all other weapons.

I was born in 1967 as a family member of the founder of Smoca Dentifrice. When I was young, I didn’t study at all and always played outside. I remember I was never a “goody tow-shoes.” When I became a junior high school student, I still didn’t study, but I discovered rugby, which I devoted myself to and where I learned courage, passion and friendship. The experiences are the most precious treasure in my life and are something I can rely on in making decisions to run my company.

After entering university, I was invited by my father to join Smoca Dentifrice as the successor of the family business. My grandfather died when I was a high school student, and since then, a senior manager has been running the company. As he neared retirement, I asked to join when I graduated from university. I gave it some serious thought and decided to enter the company, as I thought it would be a good challenge for my future career. Looking back, I don’t think I thought it through thoroughly.

When I joined the company, it was in chaos. The average age of the staff was over 65, and there were a lot of them who were just listlessly sitting around without spirit or motivation. I worked hard, studied hard, and strived to change the environment on my own. However, my efforts were in vain, as I achieved the opposite effect and increased the debt.

Then, a turnaround came about 15 years ago. I had a chance to meet a famous doctor at a dental university, and he told me, “No matter how good the ingredients in toothpaste are, the efficacy of it is half wasted because it is eventually washed away.” I took the issue back to the company right away to find a solution to the problem. I tried to find a way to retain toothpaste ingredients even after rinsing the mouth. Two years later, we successfully managed to find a way, and proposed it to a marketing company specializing in dental materials. They started manufacturing it right away. Production rose year by year, and our company’s earnings turned around. From this experience, I learned “to sell the efficacy of products,” rather than “selling a product itself.”

When I turned 40, I became the president of our company. I took over the position from my father (the incumbent chairman), who told me that the time was right for me to take over.

Until then, I was focusing on marketing and product development. But after becoming the president, I made up my mind to start learning a lot of things from the beginning, because I now had to be engaged in the company’s overall operation. I started with disposing of bad business inventories and I found that I was responsible for a lot of those businesses, and it made me sad. But I disposed of them anyway, as it needed to be done. This experience made me pledge that I will not fall again.

Company Profile

Name
Smoca Dentifrice Co., Ltd.
Headquarters
Osaka Prefecture
1932
employees
63
business
Production, sales, and research and development of cosmetic products, quasi-drug products, and medical equipment
url
http://www.smoca.jp/