Yokohama President and CEO discusses key tire industry issues

Tire industry overview Q&A with Yasushi Tanaka.

I want to make YTC remarkably efficient so we can continue to grow.  In Japan, there are not as many companies, but they have been around for a long time and continue to grow. With increased efficiency, YTC can achieve continued growth.


Question:  How important is increasing profitability?

Tanaka: Very important. That’s part of YRC’s continuous growth philosophy. The U.S. market is quite big, but I feel it is a fair market. If we supply the right products for the U.S., then we will make more profits. 


Question:  How important is promotion to Yokohama, such as sports marketing?

Tanaka:  It’s a very good way for us to increase awareness for our tires, and is another key strategy for Yokohama in achieving growth.  It helps drive consumers to our dealers, and our dealers agree that the effort is successful in driving up store traffic. 


Question:  What about industry challenges such as product supply and fill rate? 

Tanaka:  To meet the growing demand worldwide, we will increase the production capacity in Thailand, Russia, China and the Philippines. We are trying to increase the supply here in the U.S. and have better fill rates.


Question:  Is it possible YTC will build a new tire plant in the U.S.?

Tanaka: We will consider every aspect, but at this point, building an additional factory in the U.S. is only under study.


Question:  What are some of the challenges that you see occurring in the U.S. market?

Tanaka:  We have to be more aware of what’s happening in the market, especially with the sales channels that are our customers. We need to know what our customers think about Yokohama products, how they buy our tires and what we need to do better to help them succeed.  I’d like more day-to-day contact with our customers so we can make necessary changes.


Question:  Any plans to visit those key customers in the near future?

Tanaka: Yes, I’ve already visited a few key consumer accounts. I consider it a top priority to meet Yokohama dealers and spend time with them.


Question:  Are you optimistic about YTC’s business outlook during the next 18 months?

Tanaka: Management is conducted based on how human resources, financial resources and products are deployed for the most good of the company. In the short term, the U.S. economy looks stagnant; however, I am confident that the U.S. economy will grow.


Question:  Yokohama has two new products launching next year that are based on its breakthrough orange oil technology.  The first is the AVID Ascend in March 2012 and the other BluEarth-1.  Can you talk about these?

Tanaka:  The AVID Ascend is Yokohama’s first mass-produced orange oil tire in the U.S. and we’re quite excited about it.  It’ll be available for a wide spectrum of applications including crossovers, SUVs, vans and passenger cars.  It will also be BluEarth-badged. BluEarth is Yokohama’s product engineering philosophy aimed at producing tires that are environmentally-, socially- and human-friendly.  Another BluEarth-badged tire that will be available in the U.S. in 2012 is the BluEarth-1, which is currently on display at the Boston Museum of Science.


Question:  How has BluEarth done in the Japan and the European markets?

Tanaka:  The sales of BluEarth products in those markets have been quite successful.


Question:  What are your thoughts about Yokohama and its environmental focus?

Tanaka: Yokohama is following the principle of dealing fairly with society and valuing harmony with the environment, so we shall in practice continue to assert our world-class strengths in technologies to protect earth. This includes continued improvement of environmental management, actions to combat global warming and contributing to the creation of a sustainable society that recycles.

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