Celebrating the 100th Anniversary – Fumiyoshi Kawai’s message
Good morning everybody. Stay safe.
I am Fumiyoshi Kawai, president of SWS.
Today is a historic day for Sumitomo Wiring Systems as we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of our foundation.
I would like to share this joyful event with our employees, and extend my sincere gratitude to former employees, customers, and the many people who have long supported our company for the efforts that have made the growth of SWS possible.
During this one hundred years, we have experienced and overcome challenges of various kinds, such as the wars you learned about at school, and large-scale disasters, along with significant changes in economy and industrial structures. During this period, SWS has worked hard to be a manufacturer that satisfies its customers and contributes to society.
I would like to look back on some important moments in the history of our company together with you on this commemorative day.
In 1917, SWS began its business when it founded the Tokai Electric Wire Works to manufacture electric wires that were indispensable for the rapid modernization sweeping society, at the venue of the current Yokkaichi Plant with the cooperation of the local community. In 1931, the company entered into a capital alliance with the current Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. to overcome a financial crisis. After that we underwent various difficulties including World War II, but thanks to our united efforts we rode out those difficult times. The company has always been quick to realize and adapt to the needs of the times to make meaningful contributions to society.
The company’s entry into the wiring harness market, the core of our current business, began in 1957 after World War II when the company manufactured wiring harnesses for buses. In 1959, we began producing wiring harnesses for two-wheelers and two years later we started full-fledged production of wiring harnesses for four-wheelers. This transition from an equipment industry manufacturing electric wires to a far more labor intensive industry manufacturing wiring harnesses was huge at the time, and therefore I can imagine what tremendous efforts the people concerned had to make to ensure its success. As a result, the company enlarged its business size by establishing subsidiaries and affiliates and developing manufacturing bases from the Tohoku area in the north and Kyushu in the south throughout Japan, along with the development of motorization.
Expanding even further, in 1978 we established our first base overseas with our affiliate STB in Brazil. Then the company promoted capital participation in a Taiwanese company and the establishment of a joint venture in Malaysia. In 1986, we established SEWS in the US to meet the wiring harness manufacturing needs of Japanese auto manufacturers that had built plants there to address the trade friction between Japan and the US. In 1990, we set up a joint venture with a British wiring harness manufacturer to deal with a Japanese auto manufacturer that had entered the British market.
After that we continued to advance into overseas markets aiming to strengthen our cost competitiveness. In 1990, SWS established wiring harness manufacturing companies in the Philippines and Indonesia, followed by other countries in south-eastern Asia and China. During the period of accelerated advancement into these overseas markets, expatriate staff along with their support back at home, and local employees as well, all had to overcome great difficulties. We truly appreciate the efforts and hard work of these people.
As for management, we changed the company name to the current Sumitomo Wiring Systems, Ltd. in 1985 and SWS’s stocks were listed the following year to develop into a business system appropriate for a global enterprise while becoming a member of the Sumitomo Group both in name and substance.
In the 2000s, we strove for further growth targeting the global market. The company promoted the expansion of manufacturing overseas, businesses with foreign auto manufacturers, and M&A, and resolutely restructured its business to specialize in wiring harness manufacturing, while quitting electric wire and communication cable manufacturing which had been our traditional business since our foundation. We also established a R&D system in collaboration with Sumitomo Electric Industries and AutoNetworks Technologies to reinforce product development capabilities to meet automotive electronization.
In recent years, while we did experience a financial deficit in a fiscal year for the first time in fifty years due to the impact of the financial crisis precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, SWS took prompt action to overcome this crisis by delisting its stocks to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Electric Industries. We also strengthened risk management by moving our head office and built a strong business foundation to continue our businesses.
Based on these efforts, SWS now has a capital of twenty billion yen, wiring harness business consolidated sales of over one trillion yen, and around 260,000 employees in the whole group in thirty-three countries. SWS has grown to be one of the leading companies in the industry.
Most of all it is our people, our human resources that have supported the SWS group’s growth over a tumultuous century of significant changes. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude again to those who have made extraordinary efforts to build the base of the company and those whose hard work is supporting the current growth of the company.
The fiscal 2017 is the year for us to complete the SWS medium-term management plan “Vision 2017.” Let’s achieve a meaningful result this year and then start “Vision 2022” to build a new chapter of history.
To conclude my message to celebrate the 100th anniversary and the start of our next century of business, I would like to ask for your further cooperation as we head into the next one hundred years and I wish you and your families every happiness and a prosperous future. Stay safe.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Representative Director, Sumitomo Wiring Systems, Ltd.
December 22, 2017