Category Archives: Press

International Trade

Pacific Coast Business Times

May 18-24, 2001

International Trade
By Laura Polland Staff Writer

The International Trade Tools and You lecture series turned its focus westward on May 9 to offer information on trade with Asia. The seminar was the fourth in a series put on by Center for International Trade Development at Oxnard College, and featured tips on business communication and facts and figures about trade with Asia.

Ed Rivera, interim director of the CITD, also announced a trade mission to Vietnam planned for early July. “I feel Vietnam represents an emerging national market. I don’t like to go into markets that are oversaturated,” he said. He added that our trade relationship with Vietnam has been developing positively.

Bill Irion a primary organizer of the seminar series and principal of Pacific Rim business consultancy Irion Enterprises, spoke on “Connecting, communicating and negotiating in Asia.”

Irion began with Japan, formerly California’s top trading partner, the second wealthiest nation per capita, and the only country to encourage imports. He explained that Japan, like other Asian countries, has business protocol that could be very confusing to American businesspeople.

One example is gift giving, a tradition that is very important but rife with possibilities for mistakes.

Gifts given in Japan need not be extravagant, though if they are, it wouldn’t be misconstrued as a bribe. Nicer gifts should be given to higher-ranking individuals, but whatever the quality, it is polite to downplay the value of the gift. Gifts bearing the company logo are not recommended, nor is white or flashy wrapping paper.

Gifts with the company logo are appropriate in China, where one must not give the impression of offering a bribe. Along the same lines, group gifts are recommended but extravagant gifts, sharp objects and clocks are not. It is to be expected that the gift will be politely refused a couple of times before it is accepted.

Irion also mentioned that in Thailand, modest gifts given in threes and wrapped in bright paper are appropriate, while more extravagant gifts are given in Korea.

Aside from such minutiae, the most important thing to remember in business dealings with Asia is to be patient, he said. Long-term, mutually beneficial relationships are preferable to the results-oriented contact more common in the United States.

Brent Marletti, the marketing officer of the Malaysian Consulate in Los Angeles, showed a video about trade opportunities in Malaysia. The tiny seafront country was ranked as the 17th largest exporter in the World Trade Organization Annual Report 2000. Its exports to the United States had a customs value of $19 billion in 1998, and exports to the U.S. grew 35 percent in the year 2000.

A third of Malaysia’s gross domestic product is manufacturing. Although it has primarily shifted from commodities to manufacturing, it is still a significant producer of palm oil, cocoa, pepper and rubber.

Bill Buenger, director of Port Hueneme, also spoke on the port’s history and services.


World Trade magazine’s March 2001 issue gave vital economic statistics about 15 Asia Pacific countries. Those receiving a “thumbs up” rating were Australia, China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore. Those rated “thumbs down” were Indonesia and Pakistan. Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam were given a neutral rating.

Statistics included exchange rates, imports and exports, GDP growth and inflation. Singapore had the highest GDP percentage growth in 2000, at 9.8 percent; forecasts for 2001 placed Vietnam in the lead with 7.9 percent. Japan had the least growth in GDP, at 2 percent in 2000 and 1 percent forecasted for this year.

Japan had the lowest inflation in 2000 at -0.3 percent, while India topped the list at 6 percent. Forecasts for 2001 keep Japan at the low end with 0.5 percent, while 8 percent inflation is forecasted for the Philippines.


©2001 Pacific Coast Business Times. All Rights Reserved, Reprinted with permission.

Irion Enterprises Exhibits at Shiga Environmental Business Exhibition 2000 in Shiga, Japan

News and Updates

Ventura County Star, Nov. 29, 2000

CAMARILLO

Salem to be national syndicator for show

Salem Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: SALM) in Camarillo, a provider of Christian-oriented radio, electronic and printed resources, announced that the Salem Radio Network (SRN) will become the new national syndicator for The Dennis Prager Show. Salem Communication’s Los Angeles conservative talk station KIEV-AM 870 will become the flagship station for the popular talk show host.

Upon the close of all announced transactions, Salem Communications will own and/or operate 73 radio stations, including 52 stations in the top 25 markets.

OXNARD

All About Eyesto hold open house

Dr. Gary Jacobs and Dr. Steve Langsford of All About Eyes will hold an open house celebration from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Dean Witter Tower, 300 E. Esplanade Drive, Suite 560, Oxnard. The open house will include refreshments and raffles.

All About Eyes offers eye examinations, glasses, medical treatment for “red eyes,” vision therapy and more. All About Eyes also has an optical laboratory on the premises.

For details, call 485-5831.

OJAI

Leadership programs offered

UCLA Extension will offer “The Leadership Programs at Ojai” beginning Sunday through Dec. 8 at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.

Depending on the needs of the participant or company, UCLA Extension offers a choice of two disciplines, one that focuses on “Managing Organizational Development and Change,” and one designed to develop greater self-awareness, the “Leadership and Human Relations Laboratory.”

In between workshop sessions, participants can enjoy outdoor recreation and relaxation activities.

The fee to attend “Managing Organizational Development and Change” is $2,495, and the fee for “Leadership and Human Relations Laboratory” is $1,995. The fee does not include accommodations at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.

For more information and a free brochure, contact UCLA Extension’s Department of Business and Management at (310) 825-4801.

SANTA PAULA

Irion Enterprises featured in exhibit

William Irion, president of Irion Enterprises in Santa Paula, announced that the company was displayed at the Shiga Environmental Business Exhibition 2000 in Shiga, Japan, at a catalog show for California companies, in the California Trade and Commerce Agency Pavilion on Oct. 18-20.

This exhibition covered all aspects of the environmental industry from new energy, recycling technology to environmental assessment, and consulting.

This is Irion Enterprises third participation in a California Trade and Commerce Agency Pavilion and catalog show in Japan.

THOUSAND OAKS

Architectural contract awarded

The design/build firm of Creative Structures/Richard B. Harrell AIA & Associates, Thousand Oaks, has been awarded the architectural contract for a new apartment complex to be built in the city of Thousand Oaks.

The Area Housing Authority of Ventura County, with the support of the city of Thousand Oaks, will be the developer and owner.

The project is scheduled for completion in the latter part of 2001.

People in Business – Conferences attended by Irion

Ventura County Star Press Release
People in Business
VENTURA COUNTY, CAMARILLO, SANTA PAULA, VENTURA, WESTLAKE VILLAGE


Tuesday November 7, 2000

VENTURA COUNTY

Jafra leadership undergoes change

Jafra Cosmetics International Inc. in Westlake Village, a direct selling cosmetics company, has created a new leadership structure for its United States business. For the first time, Jafra’s two domestic units — the general and Hispanic divisions — each have their own general manager. Dyan Lucero of Thousand Oaks, a 28-year veteran of Jafra, will head the general division, while Beatriz Aguirre-Gutai of Simi Valley, who has been with the company 19 years, assumes leadership of the Hispanic division.

Gonzalo R. Rubio, president and chief operating officer of Jafra, announced the appointments.

Lucero was regional sales manager and served most recently as vice president of sales, general division.

Aguirre-Gutai has moved from sales to marketing, promotions and merchandising, to posts as regional sales manager, senior manager of events and communications, and director of programs.

CAMARILLO

Richardson named vice president

Medical Analysis Systems Inc. (MAS) announced the appointment of Darwin Richardson Jr. to vice president of quality and regulatory.

Richardson assumes the role from Scot Kinghorn, who was recently promoted to vice president of operations. As vice president of quality, Richardson will oversee all aspects of quality assurance and regulatory affairs and ensure compliance for the MAS worldwide clinical diagnostics business.

He returns to MAS after a tenure at Alpha Therapeutic Corp., where he held the position of associate director of the quality assurance technical group. Prior to his employment at Alpha Therapeutic, he was a project manager for the research and development department at MAS, and a research associate at the ECS division of Bio-Rad Laboratories.

Camarillo-based MAS is a provider of quality control products, quality assurance programs and services, reagents and calibrators used in clinical diagnostic testing worldwide.

SANTA PAULA

Conferences attended by Irion

William Irion, president of Irion Enterprise in Santa Paula, gave a presentation regarding American business and participated in round-table discussions with Japanese business leaders and international university educators at the Western Academy of Management International Management Conference in Shizuoka, Japan, from July 9-12.

He was one of five American business leaders selected to be part of this international program. The program consisted of area familiarization tours, educational sessions and paper presentations, business tours and business roundtables.

Irion also attended the Penn Air Group, Southern California Chinese Association of Commerce and the California Trade & Commerce Agency International Environmental Trade Conference 2000 in Los Angeles on Aug. 15 and 17.

The People’s Republic of China sent officials and buyers from the State Environmental Protection Administration of China (SEPA) to Los Angeles. There were speakers as well as a trade show to meet and discuss business with the SEPA director and provincial directors.

VENTURA

Durfey recognized for equality efforts

Jim Durfey of Ventura, general manager of the Century Plaza Towers and Entertainment Center, was one of six businessmen in Century City who was recognized and honored by the Women’s Business Council of the Century City Chamber of Commerce during its Men of Achievement Awards and Luncheon on Sept. 21.

The event recognized and honored businessmen in Century City who support and promote equality for women in business.

Durfey is responsible for the overall asset management function at Century Plaza Towers and Entertainment Center. Prior to that, he held various senior-level positions with Homart Development Co. He has a Real Property Administrator designation from the Building Owners & Managers Association, he is a licensed real estate broker for the state of California, a member of the board of directors for the Starlight Children’s Foundation and a member of the board of directors and executive committee for the Century City Chambers of Commerce.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE

Hendrickson elected to council

Kathie Hendrickson, local Cookies By Design shop owner, has been elected to the Cookies By Design/Cookie Bouquet 2000 President’s Advisory Council.

The PAC serves as an advisory group of CBD/CB franchises to the franchiser, MGW Group. Serving two- to three-year terms, the PAC members address operational issues such as packaging, merchandising and technology.

Cookies By Design/Cookie Bouquet creates arrangements of individually hand-decorated cookies for all occasions for corporate and consumer customers.

Irion Enterprises Retained for Consulting by Sumitomo Heavy Industries

Ventura County Star
News and updates


Wednesday October 18, 2000

VENTURA COUNTY

Elder-care company expands operations

In response to the growing demand for elder-care services, LivHOME, an in-home care company, recently announced the expansion of its Ventura County operations with the opening of its new office at 601 Daily Drive, Suite 205, Camarillo.

The new facility includes an education room in which the company will conduct the LivHOME University training program. The room also will be used for community meetings and family support groups.

LivHOME offers in-home care, counseling, care management, social activities, crisis prevention and intervention, and more. It is also a member of the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers.

For more information about in-home elder care in Ventura County, call 384-9488 or visit www.livhome.com/.

CAMARILLO

Publisher unveils new magazine

Buckaroo Communications launched its newest title, Family & Performance Boating. The publication is targeted to today’s sport and performance boat enthusiasts.

Two issues of the magazine will be published during the remainder of 2000, with nine issues to be produced in 2001.

Family & Performance Boating is designed to introduce new boating technology and provide performance enhancement solutions to better meet the power and handling of today’s performance boating enthusiasts.

Buckaroo Communications, with headquarters in Camarillo, is a publisher of high-performance automotive magazines and recipe books.

Chamber celebrates new location

The Camarillo Chamber of Commerce’s new location, which will also act as a tourist information center for the Camarillo area, is at 2400 E. Ventura Blvd. in Old Town Camarillo.

To celebrate the move, the chamber held a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by an open house. Both events were attended by chamber members, local business leaders, political officials and citizens of the Camarillo community.

Those attending the event included state Sen. Cathie Wright; Supervisor Kathy Long and Mayor Bill Liebmann; council members Mike Morgan Charlotte Craven, Kevin Kildee and Jan McDonald; and representatives from the offices of Elton Gallegly, Tom McClintock and Tony Strickland.

OXNARD

All About Eyes leases space

All About Eyes has signed a lease to become a tenant in the Dean Witter Tower, according to Rochelle Davis and David Morgan of Sares-Regis Group. The company will lease a 2000-square-foot office at 300 Esplanade Drive, Suite 560, Oxnard.

Dr. Gary Jacobs and Dr. Steve Langsford of All About Eyes will provide eye examinations and offer a range of eyewear and sunglasses, vision therapy and medical treatment of “red eyes.” An optical laboratory is on the premises, and the office accepts most insurance plans.

SANTA PAULA

Company retained for consulting

William Irion, president of Irion Enterprises in Santa Paula, announced that the company was hired by Sumitomo Heavy Industries to provide educational services to a delegation of 26 Japanese environmental industry leaders who were in Los Angeles with the Japan Waste Management Research Foundation.

The delegation first attended the Dioxin 2000 conference in Monterey. After they arrived in L.A., Irion Enterprises coordinated three presentations and a waste-management tour. Irion Enterprises arranged a tour of the Puente Hills Landfill in Whittier. Presentations included Irion’s business and working with Asian companies.

The Japanese delegates represented many major Japanese companies such as Nippon Steel, NKK Corp., Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kubota Corp., Kobe Steel, Urban System Integration and Kyoto University. Kumiko Irion provided Japanese translation as needed for the delegates.

VENTURA

Poinsettia Award nominations sought

The Ventura Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for the following categories for the Poinsettia Award: Large Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Citizen of the Year and Service Organization of the Year.

The Large Business of the Year Award is in recognition of a chamber member business with more 25 employees; the Small Business of the Year Awards is in recognition of a chamber member business with under 25 employees.

Nominations also are being sought for the Jewel Key Award, a special recognition of an existing business that has newly renovated or redesigned the exterior of their building.

The awards ceremony be at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 19 at the Clarion Ventura Beach Hotel, 2055 Harbor Blvd., Ventura.

The deadline for nominations is Nov. 10. To request a nomination form, call 648-2875.

Victoria Plaza adds new restaurant

Gary Holzapfel has signed a three-year lease for the former bakery site in Victoria Plaza in Ventura, according to Mike Crocker of Coldwell Banker Commercial. Holzapfel will open Hozy’s Cafe, a fine-food restaurant.

Holzapfel, owner of Automotive Racing Products, has assembled a team of fine-food chefs that include Pat Liampetchakul, who also will serve as the restaurant’s manager; and Gregory Paul Strothers, who will serve as executive chef. He also retained restaurant interior designer and architect Anthony Eckelberry.

Hozy’s Cafe is projected to open soon.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE

Platinum awarded to Weiser Litho

Weiser Litho in Westlake Village won Platinum/Best of Show award at the PIA (Printing Industries Association) Year 2000 Self-Promotion and Marketing Awards Competition. Additionally, Weiser Litho took home the People’s Choice Award, two Gold Awards and two Silver Awards for excellence in printing, design and packaging.

At a ceremony at the city of Commerce, entrants from Southern California and Nevada were judged by a panel of communications experts. PIA holds the event to further advertising and print communication for printers and associated industries.

William Irion of Irion Enterprises Gives Business Presentation at the Western Academy of Management International Conference in Shizuoka, Japan

For Immediate Release:

July 20, 2000

William Irion of Irion Enterprises gives business presentation at the Western Academy of Management International Conference in Shizuoka, Japan

Ventura County, CA. - William Irion, President of Irion Enterprises in Santa Paula, gave a presentation regarding American business and participated in round table discussions with Japanese business leaders and international university educators at The Sixth Western Academy of Management (WAM) International Management Conference in Shizuoka, Japan from July 9 to July 12, 2000.

Mr. Irion was one of five American business leaders selected to be part of this international program. The program consisted of area familiarization tours, educational sessions and paper presentations, business tours and business roundtables. About 200 university professors and 75 businesspersons attended the conference. Over 40 Shizuoka area organizations supported this conference.

This conference was unique for several reasons:

  • Both business people and academic scholars were invited to attend and to participate.
  • Both Japanese and non-Japanese were invited and welcomed.
  • Both theoretical and practical business issues were discussed.
  • Special business sessions were setup between visiting businesspersons and Japanese businesspersons.

The conference provided a unique opportunity to work with local Japanese businesses, to develop new business knowledge, and to build relationships both in Japan and worldwide.

Irion Featured at Japan’s California Trade Pavilion

Irion Featured at Japan’s California Trade Pavilion

Reprinted from Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, May 2, 2000
Ventura County Edition
Section: Metro
Page: B-6
VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS
VENTURA COUNTY DIGEST
By: BARBARA MURPHY

Irion Enterprises in Santa Paula was featured last month at the California Trade and Commerce Agency Pavilion in Japan. This is the second year that Irion has participated in the annual event in Japan.

Irion focuses on helping international companies do business with each other, primarily in Japan and China. Its services include Japanese translation, training in cross-cultural relations and import/export assistance.

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times.

Japan Trade Sparks Tri-Counties Business

Pacific Coast Business Times

April 28, 2000

Japan Trade Sparks Tri-Counties Business
By Laura Polland Staff Writer

It’s a good time to look into trade with Japan, according to Bill Irion, whose Santa Paula-based consulting business specializes in Japanese language services and Asian exporting.

Japan’s economy is changing as the country comes out of a ten-year recession, Irion said. While Japan’s economy has traditionally consisted of firmly interlocked companies with little room for newcomers, entrepreneurs are beginning to come to the fore and lifetime employment is starting to fade.

“Information technology and Web-related business are about to explode in Asia,” Irion said. Until recently the national telephone and telegraph company charged Internet users for the service and per-minute fees. The number of Internet users in Japan, although representing only 20 percent to 30 percent of the population, already ranks second globally.

Irion warns that establishing business relations in Asia takes time. “People think that there are one billion Chinese � if I can sell just one of my things to each of them, I�ll be rich. It�s a 200-year-old concept that hasn�t panned out yet. It�s hard to make money there, but not impossible.” What he recommends is starting to nurture relationships now, which will eventually mean profits.

Irion first visited Asia in 1972, and graduated with a degree in Asian studies. This gives him a slightly different perspective on business with Asia. For instance, American business often criticizes China�s lax copyright rules, without understanding the history of the matter. “When you look at the historical perspective, there is 2000 years of traditional education behind it. Students were required to pass rigorous exams, and those who could best copy the master�s work, did best on the exams,” he explained.

Irion’s consulting business, Irion Enterprises Inc., has offered various services, including facilities management and Web site construction. The home-based business now combines his business experience, including three years in Taiwan, with his wife�s Japanese language expertise. Kumiko Irion, a native of Japan, has taught Japanese at colleges and other venues in Japan and the United States. Irion Enterprises offers Japanese language instruction, interpretation and translations, exporting services and cultural diversity awareness training.

Small touches, like a business card printed in Japanese and English, delivered with both hands and the Japanese side displayed, are important for smooth international relations.

While many resources for businesses interested in international trade are located in Los Angeles, Irion recommends consulting the California Central Coast World Trade Center in Oxnard, Ventura County Economic Development Center, and the Pacific Agri-Business Alliance. Other resources include the Center for International Trade Development at Oxnard College, Export Small Business Development Center in Ventura, and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Los Angeles office. Many of the local colleges and universities have overseas programs and connections, and interpreters and export services are available through the yellow pages.

In 1997, Japan was California’s top export market at $17.4 billion, or 16 percent of the state’s total export market, according to a Ventura County Star article. Much of California�s Asian exporting travels through Ventura County�s Port Hueneme, the only deep water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Irion said.

A number of tri-county businesses have trade relations with Japan and other parts of Asia. A 1998 report in the Ventura Star listed 26 Ventura-county based businesses with operations in or trade relations with Japan. The list included high-technology companies such as Interlink Electronics, ACT Networks and G & H Technologies, and food firms like Sunkist Growers Inc. and Dole Food Co. Inc, the largest exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables to Japan.

Dawn Legg of Export Planning Services in Cambria said there are a number of businesses in the San Luis Obispo area involved in Asian trade. “There are a ton,” she said. “The wineries do a lot of international business, and so do software companies. And there are funky specialty companies who do business with Asia.”

Some SLO County companies who export to Japan are Strasbaugh, which produces high-tech polishing and grinding systems, and Ziatech, a computing and telecommunications company with distribution in 68 countries. There are also more specialized industries, such as Ernie Ball Inc., a retailer of guitar-related items.


©2000 Pacific Coast Business Times. All Rights Reserved

Irion Enterprises Tells Its Area Clients Japan Means Business

LOS ANGELES TIMES

VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS REVIEW
Tuesday, July 6, 1999

Irion Enterprises Tells Its Area Clients Japan Means Business
By LEO SMITH, Times Staff Writer

Santa Paula business consultant William Irion has heard many of the common preconceptions of what it’s like to transact business in Japan, and he’d like to offer a different perspective. “People say they’re in a recession, so no one’s buying anything; it’s impossible to do business there; it’s expensive-but all these things that used to be are not necessarily still the case,” Irion said.

“I’m trying to get businesses to understand that now is an excellent time to go to Japan and into that market,” he said. “The money is still there and the government has switched around to encourage imports into Japan. They have certain types of needs that they don’t have the means to solve.”

Through his company, Irion Enterprises, Irion calls on his experience as a longtime facilities manager to offer consulting services in a variety of areas, including energy management, environmental health and safety, and contract management.

Over the past year, his focus has been on training Ventura County businesspeople to develop contacts in Japan. His primary goal has been to prepare business owners for a series of global commerce conventions in and around Osaka in the fall.

“There’s been greater interest in Japan from larger companies in the U.S.-big American multinational companies are intensively moving into Japan,” Irion said. “For a reasonable amount of money [to attend the conventions], somebody who has a product that’s marketable in Japan has a very good opportunity.”

Irion coaches businesspeople in Japanese etiquette, business practices and general conduct that may help them in their business dealings. Irion’s wife, Kumiko, was born in Japan and teaches the Japanese language. Irion Enterprises has provided Japanese consultation for clients that include Geo InSight International of Ojai, the Point Mugu naval base, the city of Oxnard and Medical Analysis Systems of Camarillo.

At the least, the Irions would like to share cultural tidbits that can make or break a business deal – – such as not writing on the face of a business card, an act many Japanese consider discourteous to the owner of that card.

Ideally, the Irions want to encourage local businesses, and prepare them, to attend the Global Business Opportunities Conference scheduled for mid-October. The series of trade expos will serve as a forum for businesses involved in environmental work, heavy equipment manufacturing, overseas investments and other areas of international trade.

The cost to attend-including air fare and exhibit space-could reach more than $2,000, Irion said. But the investment, he said, could be well worth it.

“I want to convince [companies] to go on their own, or hire somebody else if they want,” he said. “Japan has one of the largest economies in the world. They have to import all kinds of things, so the potential is definitely there. . . . To me, the exposure you get for the fee you pay is pretty extensive.”

Geo InSight International, which specializes in automated mapping for clients such as the U.S. Navy, is among Irion Enterprises’ newest clients. Irion Enterprises was awarded a $10,000 contract through the Ventura County Economic Development Commission’s defense-conversion program to train Geo InSight staff in Japanese culture and business practices as the company prepares to expand its presence in Okinawa.

“We’re providing them with a certain level of language training, survival Japanese,” Irion said. “We’ll run them through a series of courses-pieces of culture, living in Japan, what to do in medical emergencies, how to present your business card, things not to do.”

Geo InSight, founded in 1989, includes among its clients the Port Hueneme naval base, the Camp Pendleton Marine base and the Air Force Academy. The company, which has 50 employees, provides its clients with digital maps that include detailed information on topography, vegetation, buildings and roads.

Much of Geo Insight’s work calls for overseas business transactions.

“We have major contracts with military bases in Japan, and there are a number of Japanese corporations we work with, and our desire is to expand our business in Japan,” said John Ford, vice president of operations for Geo InSight.

“We realize success in business in Japan is keyed very much to strong personal relationships with business partners,” he said. “Our desire is to have employees very sensitive to cultural issues, language, protocol issues, things that really drive Japanese business. . . . Some of us have been traveling in East Asia and Asia before, but many of us have not.”

Since September 1997, Geo InSight has been involved with a project preparing topographic base maps of military installations in Okinawa for the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The goal now, Ford said, is to further expand the company’s involvement in Japan. There’s a special interest in establishing an office in Okinawa, he said, because company founder Margaret Elliot has family ties to the island.

“We’re working with Japanese government officials and business partners to open an office,” Ford said. “I think we’ll have a representative office in Japan within a year.”

The Geo InSight contract is one of several contracts Irion Enterprises has won from the EDC. The company also built a human resources department for Voiceboard Corp. of Ventura and has worked on developing Ventura County’s environmental business cluster.


Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved

LOS ANGELES TIMES

VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS REVIEW
Tuesday, July 6, 1999

Irion Enterprises Tells Its Area Clients Japan Means Business
By LEO SMITH, Times Staff Writer

Santa Paula business consultant William Irion has heard many of the common preconceptions of what it’s like to transact business in Japan, and he’d like to offer a different perspective. “People say they’re in a recession, so no one’s buying anything; it’s impossible to do business there; it’s expensive-but all these things that used to be are not necessarily still the case,” Irion said.

“I’m trying to get businesses to understand that now is an excellent time to go to Japan and into that market,” he said. “The money is still there and the government has switched around to encourage imports into Japan. They have certain types of needs that they don’t have the means to solve.”

Through his company, Irion Enterprises, Irion calls on his experience as a longtime facilities manager to offer consulting services in a variety of areas, including energy management, environmental health and safety, and contract management.

Over the past year, his focus has been on training Ventura County businesspeople to develop contacts in Japan. His primary goal has been to prepare business owners for a series of global commerce conventions in and around Osaka in the fall.

“There’s been greater interest in Japan from larger companies in the U.S.-big American multinational companies are intensively moving into Japan,” Irion said. “For a reasonable amount of money [to attend the conventions], somebody who has a product that’s marketable in Japan has a very good opportunity.”

Irion coaches businesspeople in Japanese etiquette, business practices and general conduct that may help them in their business dealings. Irion’s wife, Kumiko, was born in Japan and teaches the Japanese language. Irion Enterprises has provided Japanese consultation for clients that include Geo InSight International of Ojai, the Point Mugu naval base, the city of Oxnard and Medical Analysis Systems of Camarillo.

At the least, the Irions would like to share cultural tidbits that can make or break a business deal – – such as not writing on the face of a business card, an act many Japanese consider discourteous to the owner of that card.

Ideally, the Irions want to encourage local businesses, and prepare them, to attend the Global Business Opportunities Conference scheduled for mid-October. The series of trade expos will serve as a forum for businesses involved in environmental work, heavy equipment manufacturing, overseas investments and other areas of international trade.

The cost to attend-including air fare and exhibit space-could reach more than $2,000, Irion said. But the investment, he said, could be well worth it.

“I want to convince [companies] to go on their own, or hire somebody else if they want,” he said. “Japan has one of the largest economies in the world. They have to import all kinds of things, so the potential is definitely there. . . . To me, the exposure you get for the fee you pay is pretty extensive.”

Geo InSight International, which specializes in automated mapping for clients such as the U.S. Navy, is among Irion Enterprises’ newest clients. Irion Enterprises was awarded a $10,000 contract through the Ventura County Economic Development Commission’s defense-conversion program to train Geo InSight staff in Japanese culture and business practices as the company prepares to expand its presence in Okinawa.

“We’re providing them with a certain level of language training, survival Japanese,” Irion said. “We’ll run them through a series of courses-pieces of culture, living in Japan, what to do in medical emergencies, how to present your business card, things not to do.”

Geo InSight, founded in 1989, includes among its clients the Port Hueneme naval base, the Camp Pendleton Marine base and the Air Force Academy. The company, which has 50 employees, provides its clients with digital maps that include detailed information on topography, vegetation, buildings and roads.

Much of Geo Insight’s work calls for overseas business transactions.

“We have major contracts with military bases in Japan, and there are a number of Japanese corporations we work with, and our desire is to expand our business in Japan,” said John Ford, vice president of operations for Geo InSight.

“We realize success in business in Japan is keyed very much to strong personal relationships with business partners,” he said. “Our desire is to have employees very sensitive to cultural issues, language, protocol issues, things that really drive Japanese business. . . . Some of us have been traveling in East Asia and Asia before, but many of us have not.”

Since September 1997, Geo InSight has been involved with a project preparing topographic base maps of military installations in Okinawa for the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The goal now, Ford said, is to further expand the company’s involvement in Japan. There’s a special interest in establishing an office in Okinawa, he said, because company founder Margaret Elliot has family ties to the island.

“We’re working with Japanese government officials and business partners to open an office,” Ford said. “I think we’ll have a representative office in Japan within a year.”

The Geo InSight contract is one of several contracts Irion Enterprises has won from the EDC. The company also built a human resources department for Voiceboard Corp. of Ventura and has worked on developing Ventura County’s environmental business cluster.


Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved

Three Articles on Ventura County, California’s Business Connections with Japan

Three Articles on Ventura County, California’s
Business Connections with Japan

Trade Meeting in Japan Draws Interest of County Executives
Falling Yen Affects County
Businesses with Japan Ties Abound

Trade Meeting in Japan Draws Interest of County Executives

Ventura County Star, October 01, 1999
Frank Moraga
Business editor


Japan will be on the agenda for some local companies and organizations this month.

The 30th annual World Trade Center Association General Assembly will be held Oct. 18-21 in Osaka.

Heading to the assembly will be William Irion of Irion Enterprises in Santa Paula and Gary Snyder, executive director of the California Central Coast World Trade Center Association in Oxnard.

The assembly will feature various seminars, workshops and networking opportunities along with tours of Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.

“It’s important for us to go to develop new business relations and expand existing business relations in Japan,” Irion said. “It’s important in my business to keep current with the changes going on in Japan by being there.”

Irion’s business provides language training services, translation services and works with American companies that have problems with their distributors in Japan.

Snyder said he will make a presentation about development of an e-membership program offering services to all the World Trade Center offices worldwide.

While in Osaka, businesses also can take advantage of the Global Business Opportunities Convention, Oct. 18-20; the Global Excellent Products Fair, Oct. 18-20; the Overseas Investment Promotions Fair ’99, Oct. 18-20; the Global Venture Forum ’99, Oct. 21-22; New Earth 99, Oct. 20-23; or the Global Environment Technology Show, Oct. 20-23, which are all being held in the city.

Attending the Global Environment event will be Geo InSight International Inc. in Ojai.

For businesses interested in attending some of the events, support is available through the U.S. Department of Commerce, the California Trade and Commerce Agency, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), or the California Central Coast World Trade Center.

In one of those programs World Trade Center delegates and affiliated companies can take part in a match-making Trade Mission Program coordinated by the Osaka World Trade Center. The cost is $500.

For details, call local World Trade Center at 988-1406.

* * *

Closer to home, the folks at Los Robles Bank in Westlake Village have been conducting something of a foreign exchange program for the past couple of years with Switzerland.

The latest effort involves Peter Oberhansli, a credit relations manager at Credit Suisse Bank in Zurich who has been on a three-month internship program at Los Robles since July. The internship is part of a program sponsored by the Swiss bank.

Thursday was his last day before he headed out to another bank, said Sharon Clark, vice president of commercial banking at Los Robles.

“People at the bank have really bonded with this international experience,” she said. “If you stand in the shoes of another culture, it broadens your own experience.

“(The Swiss) are coming here to learn how we work with clients and to see how we have created a reputation for outstanding customer service,” she said.

Oberhansli has attended weekly staff meetings and has gone on business appointments with staff members.

“Bob Hamilton (the bank’s president) has been extremely open in letting him know about our business strategy,” Clark said.

The bank’s first experience with Switzerland began last year with another Credit Suisse official interned for a few weeks. And in August, Clark herself took part in a weeklong stay in Switzerland courtesy of Credit Suisse Bank, where she visited the bank’s offices in Zurich and Geneva.


Falling Yen Affects County

Ventura County Star, December 27, 1998
By Frank Moraga
Staff writer

No one has to tell Steve Lazenby how connected Ventura County’s economy is to Japan and the rest of Asia.

All the owner of Santa Paula Recycling has to do is check the latest prices of copper and other metals paid out to scrap haulers and consumers and the money he gets back from metal brokers, who ship the scrap to raw material-starved Japan and the rest of Asia.

All he has to do is open up his wallet.

“There is no profit in recycling left for me and my son,” said Lazenby, who has seen prices drop because of a slump in production of automobiles and other consumer products in Japan.

Just a year ago, Lazenby was making about $1.40 a pound for copper. That has since dropped to 80 cents. Meanwhile, the price he is getting from brokers for iron has dropped from $75 to $25 a ton.

“We can’t continue to rely on it to support us. We will try to keep the business open, but we are both looking for full-time jobs,” he said.

As the Asian financial slide started unfolding late last year, many local business owners and consumers had little reason to think it would come back and hurt them in the pocketbook.

But as we have seen with the wild swings of the stock market this year, and a required presidential visit to Japan last month to help shore up Tokyo’s latest $167 billion (U.S.) economic reform plan, a weak Japan could mean fewer products exported from Ventura County and the rest of California to that nation. That translates to fewer local jobs and rising long-term economic uncertainty.

As the new year rapidly approaches, area economic experts say we may be well advised to keep looking west across the Pacific to see if the economic woes of Japan and Asia continue to lap gently on our shore or hit us like a devastating economic tsunami.

Recovery could take years

Some Japanese officials and local economic experts believe it will be years before the country can turn its economy around, resulting in more hardships for Japanese workers who were used to the concept of lifelong employment.

During a recent interview at a Mitsubishi Motor’s Corp. automobile plant in Nagoya, spokesman Tomoyuki Ohkusa said the company has so far found alternatives to layoffs in Japan as overall demand for Japanese automobiles continues to sag.

“We temporarily idle plants. All the shops are closed one or two days a month,” he said. “We are reducing people by retirement, cutting new hiring and sending people to related (Mitsubishi) companies.”

During a recent visit to Japan, more and more restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops in Japan could be seen with their doors closed because of a continuing cash-crunch crisis as shaky financial institutions struggle to recover from years of bad international investments.

While not as prevalent as in the United States, more and more homeless people could also be seen recently in Japanese city parks, in tunnels under train stations and in the closed-for-the-day business districts.

However, there is still a thread of optimism running through the psyche of the Japanese public, a public long schooled on the traditions of consensus and still thankful to those government officials who rebuilt the nation’s shattered post-World War II economy to a world economic power.

According to a newspaper poll conducted last month by the Asahi Shinbun, most of the Japanese public appears to have confidence that the government will be able to pull the country out of its economic morass.

“Seventy-six percent of the people responded that the economy will recover with the introduction of the government’s (November) reforms,” Saburo Yuzawa, executive vice president of the Japanese External Trade Organization, said during a recent interview in Tokyo.

Consumer spending going up

There are apparently signs that the economy may have hit bottom and may be recovering on its own, with consumer spending in Japan starting to rise.

“Mini car sales are swinging up by 11 percent (over a year ago),” Yuzawa said.

If consumer demands grows, that will open the way for increased California exports to Japan. Exports this year from the state to Japan are expected to drop by 15 percent over 1997.

“I hope it is improving, but Japan’s economy is still not good so I am not so optimistic,” said Akira Moromi, chief executive director of JETRO’s Los Angeles office. However, more than 10 California companies have agreed to take part in a “Health Care ’99” exhibition in April in Tokyo sponsored by JETRO.

“That is more than I expected,” he said.

Moromi said the trade organization has also received some positive feedback from Internet-related companies to its efforts to present a high-tech partnership forum next year in Los Angeles.

“In computer software, they do not worry so much about the Japanese future,” he said. “Most of the manufacturers have been very positive to this kind of seminar.

“In some areas we are very positive and we think there are opportunities in the Japanese marketplace in the future,” he said.

Ties to county substantial

Whether Japan rises or falls is of great importance to a number of business people in Ventura County and the surrounding area, where ties to Japan are substantial.

Ventura County’s connection with Japan is most readily apparent at the Port of Hueneme. On any given week, longshoremen can be seen loading freighters with pre-refrigerated lemons grown by Ventura County members of the Sunkist Growers cooperative. The lemons are bound for ports in Tokyo and Osaka.

Many of those same workers can be seen on other days offloading Mazdas and Mitsubishi automobiles, which are in turn driven to local vehicle processing centers, where hundreds of area residents are employed.

Less noticeable are the more than 40 or so companies in Ventura County and the surrounding area with substantial ties to Japan, with dozens of others having various business relations.

From memory, William Irion can run down the list of dozens of local companies and organizations involved in Japanese trade — everything from Japanese antique shops to flower nurseries, electronic and seafood businesses.

“There are a lot of companies in this area that do business in Japan … It’s amazing the amount of things that go on in this county that relate to Japan,” said Irion, who along with his wife, Kumiko, operates a language-training service in Santa Paula.

“We have an expert lady in Moorpark who does traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. She has a whole crew of people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the names of Amgen, Dole, Kinko’s, Patagonia and other locally based companies are not entirely unfamiliar to the Japanese public and business leaders, who have seen a rising tide of American companies enter and expand in their country.

“If they are exporting, most of them are doing OK,” Irion said.

But even with a struggling Japanese economy, trade and business people say this might be the time to get into the market, especially because it takes time to develop personal relations in Japan, relations that are so important in securing business ties.

Many still don’t understand

However, Cindy Cooke, executive director of the 700-member World Affairs Council of Ventura County, says many business people in Ventura County just haven’t learned their lesson yet, refusing to take notice of economic events half a world away so they can anticipate problems and quickly shift to other markets.

“There is a concept that you have time or money, but not both,” she said. “When the money is not coming in, it’s difficult to take chances. When things are going well, it’s hard for people to have time.

“It was beginning to happen. Before the Japanese economy was heading south, CEOs were asking more questions about” doing business in Japan and Asia for the long term, she said. That stopped abruptly.

The average consumer in Ventura County also has a problem when it comes to understanding how the Japanese economy affects them locally.

“People in this county are very inward looking,” she said. “They don’t have the same connection with the international economy as people in Los Angeles.”

IMPACT:

Woes began in ’97

Japan’s latest economic problems began in late 1997 after the devaluation of the Thai baht, which by year’s end exposed Japanese banks to the potential of $118 billion (U.S.) in bad loans in Thailand and the rest of Asia, according to a report by Japan’s Bank for International Settlement. Those fears further damaged the confidence of Japanese consumers, causing stock market volatility, reducing the availability and increasing the cost of credit to Japanese businesses. Japan is now suffering its worst recession since World War II. The ongoing slump has prompted the Japanese government to announce in November a $167 billion (U.S.) economic stimulus package. Despite such efforts, the Japanese government last week set its economic growth target for next year at 0.5 percent — the lowest forecast since World War II. To jump start the economy, the government last week also proposed a $710.6 billion budget for the next fiscal year, a 5.4 percent spending increase over the previous year. However, the proposal raised fears of widening the nation’s budget deficit. While the government is boosting its spending, its tax revenue is expected to plunge by 19.5 percent next year to $409 billion because of massive tax cuts planned for next year and the general weak state of the economy.

Why care?

Why should we care about Japan as a trading partner? In 1997, Japan was California’s No. 1 export market at $17.4 billion, or a 16 percent share of the state’s total export market. The state exported $98.3 million worth of oranges last year, along with $84.7 million of lemons, much of that grown in Ventura County. In 1995, the latest year figures are available, Japan was the leading foreign investor in California at $34.3 billion, up from $4.6 billion in 1985. The state had the largest number of Japanese-affiliated manufacturing plants, 273 as of 1997, up from 163 in 1987. Ohio followed at 152 in 1997. Along with manufacturing, there were a total of 525 Japanese-affiliated companies (commerce, financial services, real estate, transportation, service-related) in Southern California in 1997, employing more than 84,777 people.

Japan to Hueneme

For fiscal year 1997/98, which ended June 30, the Port of Hueneme’s cargo volume rose 32 percent to a record-breaking 1 million tons. A total of 135,262 automobiles (BMW, GM, Jaguars, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Volvos) were imported through the port in fiscal 1997-1998, up from 106,445 imported in fiscal 1996-1997 and up from 106,834 imported in fiscal 1988-1989. Of those vehicles, about 17,500 Mitsubishi automobiles are expected to be imported this calendar year, up from 15,000 shipped during Mitsubishi’s first year of operation at the port in 1993. Next year, when Mitsubishi’s Tacoma, Wash., vehicle processing center shifts some of its operations down to Pacific Vehicle Processors in south Oxnard, the company is expected to bring in about 31,000 vehicles through the port by the end of 1999. Mazda is expected to import about 30,000 vehicles through the port this year, up from 13,598 shipped during Mazda’s first year at the port in 1977. Overall, port officials are optimistic the number of vehicles in fiscal 1998-1999 will exceed the previous fiscal year total.

What we send Japan

For fiscal year 1997-98, a total of 141,488 tons of fresh fruits were exported from the Port of Hueneme to Japan by the Sunkist Growers cooperative. Much of the citrus was grown here in Ventura County. That’s up 4 percent from the prior year and up from 42,827 exported in 1989. Sunkist Growers shipped from the Port of Hueneme to Japan between 10 million and 12 million cartons (40-pound boxes) of citrus each year. Those consist of between 4 million and 5 million cartons of lemons, 3 million cartons of Valencia oranges, 2 million cartons of navel oranges, and 1 million to 2 million cartons of grapefruit each year.

We send cars, too

Also being exported from the Port of Hueneme to Japan and the rest of Asia are various automobiles, including classic American lowriders, and heavy equipment. During the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, CBS television shipped out its television control trucks through the Port of Hueneme. Parade floats have also been moved through the port

Source: The Oxnard Harbor District, California Department of Agriculture, Massachusetts Institute of Social and Economic Research and the Japan External Trade Organization.


Businesses with Japan Ties Abound

Ventura County Star, December 27, 1998
By Frank Moraga
Staff writer

For many a Ventura County resident, the names Amgen, Dole, Kinko’s, Sunkist and Patagonia are quite familiar ones. Because the companies are based in the county or the surrounding area, we may even know someone who works there.

Guess what? Those names are also getting to be familiar in Japan as well. That has many area companies smiling at the potential for business in the coming years, easing any discomfort they may feel right now because of Japan’s deep economic slump.

The following is a list of some, not all, of the area companies that have operations or trade relations with Japan.

ACT NETWORKS INC.: Based in Camarillo, ACT Networks develops and manufactures products that allow for transmission of voice, data and fax information on a single telephone line. ACT has two distributor partners in Japan; TK Ltd. and Japan Direx Corp., both in Tokyo. TK supplies equipment to NTT, Japan’s national telephone company. ACT has been working with TK for five years and Japan Direx for seven years.

“Historically, Asia had been a strong market E the two markets remaining strong are Japan and Australia,” said Mike Zeile, vice president of marketing. Therefore, the company is continuing and expanding its efforts there.

AMGEN INC.: Touted on Nasdaq television ads as the world’s largest biotechnology company, this home-grown Newbury Park company has links in Japan courtesy of its partnership with Kirin Brewery and its Kirin Pharmaceutical Division. Amgen owns 50 percent interest in Kirin-Amgen Inc., a corporation formed in 1984. Amgen and Kirin collaborate on development of new uses for Amgen’s drugs, Epogen and Neupogen. Amgen also has signed agreements with Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. of Tokyo for licensing marketing of Amgen’s Interferon product in the Far East and Europe. “We have an operation in Japan for clinical development and sales,” Amgen spokesman David Kaye said of the Amgen Japan Inc. facility.

BIOPOOL INTERNATIONAL INC.: Based in Ventura, Biopool International Inc. develops and markets a variety of blood testing kits, with some of its products sold in Japan.

BREATH ASURE INC.: Breath Asure Inc. in Calabasas makes a variety of personal hygiene products such as BreathAsure brand breath fresheners and dental gum. Ernesto Rocco, senior manager of international sales and marketing, recently attended the “Why Japan? Why Now? seminar in Los Angeles sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization. “We’ve been in the Japanese market about four years,” he said. Prior to Japan’s economic woes, The private company’s sales in Japan accounted for 7 percent of its worldwide sales. It has since dropped back to 4 percent, but Rocco said he is optimistic about its future in Japan and is looking for a new distributor to help sell two new products in Japan.

CHATSWORTH PRODUCTS INC.: Based in Westlake Village, Chatsworth Products makes the mechanical structural supports for the Internet. The company does do a little business in Japan, according to Robert Shu, Asia area sales manager. As far as future plans for growth, “We prefer to let our distributor run the business,” Shu said.

DOLE FOOD CO. INC.: This Westlake Village-based company has long had ties to the Japanese market. In 1996, the latest years figures for Japan were available from the company, Dole’s sales in Japan, its flagship market, increased 16 percent in local currency because of increased marketing efforts and the strength of the Dole brand, which the company says is recognized by 92 percent of consumers in Japan. The company has a total of six Dole distribution centers as of 1997 in Japan operating at or near capacity. The company is the largest importer of fresh fruits and vegetables to Japan. In 1997, it expanded its product offerings by establishing a network of more than 1,200 Japanese farmers who produce broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, radishes, carrots, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and melons for distribution in Dole centers throughout Japan.

ENVIRO-REPS INTERNATIONAL: The folks at Sumitomo Bank in Japan had a problem: how to keep the water in their fountains sparkling clean. The solution they found was negotiating a deal recently with Bob Friedman, president of Enviro-Reps International in Camarillo, a company that sells more than 30 products, mostly enzyme-bacteria-based, that are used to clean a variety of fountains, aquariums, ponds and even a 4 million-gallon lake.

G&H TECHNOLOGY INC.: The names Caterpiller, Motorola, Honeywell, all in Chicago, and Coca Cola in Atlanta, were on the tour itinerary for a group of Japanese businessmen recently. So why did Camarillo-based G&H Technology Inc. join that prestigious list? Part of the answer eventually will be in outer space. G&H, a manufacturer of a variety of electrical connectors, manufactures parts that are being shipped to Japan for installation in the Japanese portion of the International Space Station. About 5 percent of G&H’s business is done in Japan. However, as Japan’s satellite rocket launched capabilities increase, G&H is hoping to be right there connecting with Japanese manufacturers.

GEO InSIGHT INTERNATIONAL INC.: Based in Ojai, Geo InSight International provides multimedia geographic information software systems that can be used to manage graphic floor plans, maps, and transportation routes to data bases. Mindy Lorenz, program development coordinator, says the company provides services to the U.S. Department of Defense in Japan, but is exploring business opportunities with Japanese defense officials and civilian contractors. Recently, Eric Pommer, the company’s director of business affairs, attended the “Why Japan? Why Now?” seminar in Los Angeles sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization. “We are trying to follow any regional efforts for doing business in Japan,” she said. “We have an office in Hawaii that is a springboard to that region.” The company also has a part-time employee in Okinawa. In addition, company president Margaret Elliott is a Japanese-American, born in Okinawa, raised and educated in Hawaii.

GREEN FOODS CORP.: The subsidiary of Japan Pharmaceutical Development in Osaka, Japan, Green Foods Corp. for the past 10 years has operated a farm in Oxnard, where it grows barley. About five years ago, the company relocated its U.S. operations from Orange County to Oxnard, opening a manufacturing facility and U.S. corporate headquarters. Today, it has 80 employees. The company makes a variety of dietary and organic food supplements such as a barley grass-based power juice called Green Magma and other products. It also has a vitamin-rich herbal product for dogs and cats.

HAAS AUTOMATION INC.: The Oxnard-based company, which entered the Japanese market in 1993, recently reported sales of $2 million a year in Japan. While it has been hard competing in Japan against such other Japan-based machine-tool manufacturers as Komatsu, Matsuda, Moriseiki, Toyoda, those same companies have been cutting prices and selling their products in the United States, further cutting into Haas’ revenue. While Haas officials still see potential in Japan for the company’s computer numeric controlled metal-milling stations, for now Haas has redirected its efforts to Europe and other less struggling markets.

HATTORI & ASSOCIATES: Based in Agoura Hills, Hattori & Associates provides consulting services to Southern California companies interested in starting joint venture partnerships in Japan, according to owner Lowell Hattori. Hattori recently attended the “Why Japan?” Why Now? seminar in Los Angeles sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization. “It was a very interesting. They are trying to bring in U.S. investments, but (they didn’t address) how the prefecture governments will assist in bringing companies to Japan.”

INTERLINK ELECTRONICS INC.: Based in Camarillo, Interlink Electronics Inc. manufacturers and markets remote computer mouse control systems. The company has a wholly owned subsidiary in Japan, Interlink Electronics Inc. KK.

INTERNATIONAL TRAINING SYSTEMS: When the Taisei Corp., the largest construction company in Japan, needed to train its workers in its international department how to deal with the “assumptions, perceptions, traditions and values that drive many cultures of the world,” all they had to do was to call Shosahna Brower and Michel Englebert, partners in International Training Systems in Oxnard. ITS recently provided training for Taisei for the 10th year.

IRION ENTERPRISES: Based in Santa Paula, Irion Enterprises is owned by William and Kumiko Irion. The company provides language training services, translation services and works with American companies that have problems with their distributors in Japan, William Irion said. The company recently taught a class for the city of Oxnard for anyone who wanted to learn Japanese, which included the prize of a free trip to Japan, he said. Over the years, Irion has worked with a number of trade and international relations group such as the World Affairs Council and the California Central Coast World Trade Center.

JAPAN DIGITAL LAB CO. LTD.: Based in Camarillo, Japan Digital Lab Co. LTD. is a subsidiary of a Tokyo-based, 1,000-employee company. The company manufactures plotters used in computer assisted drafting and reprographics markets in Japan. It has a 20-employee U.S. sales division in Camarillo.

JITCO GROUP LTD.: Jitco Group Ltd. in Chatsworth assists various U.S. manufacturers in getting their products sold overseas, especially in Japan, said Ravinder Sethi, company president. Products include apparel, sporting equipment, luggage. One of their recent clients was Haynes, the underwear company. While the Asian financial crisis has caused sales of U.S.-brand goods to drop 20 percent to 50 percent, Sethi is optimistic that sales will turn around some if the government’s reforms bare fruit.

KINKO’S: This Ventura-based business services company has come a long way from its initial start in a closet-like space off the campus of UC Santa Barbara. Kinko’s first entered the Japanese market in 1992 with its first store in Nagoya under a joint venture partnership with Sumitomo Metal Mining. It opened its 25th store in Japan on Dec. 21. The company has plans to reach the 200-store mark throughout Japan by 2003.

McMULLEN’S JAPANESE ANTIQUES: McMullen’s Japanese Antiques in Oxnard sells Japanese antiques, including multipurpose storage units used in Japan instead of closets and porcelain items. Owner John McMullen often makes buying trips to Japan.

NAKAMURA BERRY GROWERS: Based in Oxnard, Nakamura Berry Growers, sells its strawberries to Dole Food Co. Inc., which in turns ships a portion of them to Japan.

PATAGONIA: With its headquarters in a very Ventura-like beach city of Kamakura, Japan, this environmentally conscious Ventura-based company has been operating in Japan since 1988, opening its first store in the Mejiro district of Tokyo. Currently, the company has five stores throughout the country. The company plans to open one new store next year and plans to add more stores as the its environmental concepts and products become more widely accepted.

RWC INTERNATIONAL: Bob Coshland visits Japan about eight times a year. No, he isn’t doing it for the frequent flyer miles or to gaze at the inspiring view of Mount Fuji. About three years ago Coshland founded RWC International in Ventura. His company represents other American companies in Asia, including Japan. Businesses he represents include coating company Whitmore Mfg Co. in Texas, filter manufacturer TSE Co. in Atlanta, and instrument maker Northern Technologies in Minnesota. He has been traveling to Asia for 30 years and has sold products for 15 years.

SEIKI SPEAR SYSTEMS OF AMERICA: Based in Ventura, Seiki Spear Systems of America, the plastics industry company is a subsidiary of a Japanese company in Yonecawa City, Yamagata.

SUNKIST GROWERS INC.: Based in Sherman Oaks, the 6,500-member cooperative, with members in Ventura County, ships lemons, Valencia and navel oranges and grapefruit to Japan, its largest export market in the world, from the Port of Hueneme. In 1997, the company shipped a total of 9,217 cartons (a 40-pound box) of fruit to Japan, down from 9,714 for the prior year. Sales of the fruit in 1997 totaled $172.1 million, down from $174.06 million for 1996. Sunkist is the 47th most recognized brand name in the world. Its Sunkist Pacific Ltd. operation is based in Tokyo and the company has a cooperative agreement with Daito Corp. in Tokyo.

TRADEWIND SEAFOOD INC.: Based in Oxnard, Tradewind Seafood Inc., the company processes fresh sea urchins and transports them by air to Japan. Sales are in the $3 million to $5 million range annually.

VITESSE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.: Based in Camarillo, Vitesse Semiconductor manufactures high-speed communications integrated circuits. The chips are used in the telecommunications, data communications and computer industries. The company operates a subsidiary direct sales office in Tokyo, Vitesse Semiconductor Japan Corp. The company presently has four employees in Japan. Last year, the company reported sales in Japan of $13.6 million, a little less than 8 percent of the company’s overall sales of $175 million.

XIRCOM INC.: Based in Thousand Oaks, Xircom Inc. develops and manufactures network access systems for mobile computer users. The company has a Singapore subsidiary that serves Japan. It is currently setting up a Japan-only subsidiary in Tokyo.

Business clerk Marie Buckner contributed to this report.

— Editor’s note: As stated above, this is a list of some, but not all of the companies in Ventura County and the surrounding area that do business with Japan. Because there is apparently no one source for finding those businesses (I know, I’ve been searching in vain for one), we have relied on company press releases, U.S. government contacts, information from Japanese trade associations and solicitations in our business stories from our readers. To keep our list updated, please contact business editor Frank Moraga at 383-2317 or e-mail at moraga@staronline.

DOING BUSINESS IN JAPAN:

Interested in doing business in the Land of the Rising Sun, here are a few contacts to

keep in mind:

California Central Coast World Trade Center:
300 Esplanade Drive, Suite 1900, Oxnard, 93030
Office: 988-1406
Fax: 988-1862
Gary R. Snyder, executive director

Center for International Trade Development:
Oxnard College
Office: 644-9981
Fax 658-2252

Export Small Business Development Center:
Ventura Satellite
Office: 644-6191
Fax: 658-2252

Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Los Angeles office:
777 S. Figueroa St., Suite 4900, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Office: (213) 624-8855
Fax: (213) 629-8127

U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service: Ventura County District Export Assistance Center:
Office: 981-8152
Fax: 981-8155

World Affairs Council of Ventura County:
Office: 449-9953
Cindy Cooke, executive director