Products Developed From Perspective of Reducing Environmental Pollution and Contributing to Society
President Masaki started to become interested in the environment during a three-year stint starting in 1990 on a cement plant construction project in Egypt as an employee of a major Japanese steelmaker. He witnessed first hand the pollution of the environment accompanying economic development and began wondering if, even if pollution could not be stopped, could it be reduced. Returning to Japan in 1993, he decided to act on that dream and try to contribute to society while simultaneously building up a business. He began in 1995 by setting up a bio-environment division while helping out at his family's wholesale building materials business. Since he was starting from scratch, he started participating in joint development projects with universities and public research institutes, took advantage of government aid schemes, and concentrated on networking.
While his division continued to run a deficit, it jointly developed a string of new products such as its "Hi-Dem" microbial agent, "Water Beetle" floating water purifiers, and "Roof Soil" special organic soil for rooftop gardens and obtained patents for them. These products won high marks for their farsightedness and record. Venture capitalists begain inquiring about investing in them. In 2000, the division was split off as the separate company Masaki Environmental Engineering & Consulting Co., Ltd.
Early after establishment of the company, its reputation received a giant boost from its floating water purifiers. This product prevents water behind dams and in ponds from stagnating. Due to its advanced utilization of solar cells and superior cost efficiency, it won the New Energy Award of the New Energy Foundation in 2000. In 2001, the company made a presentation at an environmental forum at the UN headquarters at the invitation of the UN. Further, its products have been highlighted as featuring prize-winning technology at UNIDO booths at exhibitions in Asia (India) and the Middle and Near East (Bahrain).
The New Energy Award of the New Energy Foundation
Floating water purifiers
Key to Success is Pinpointing Needs and Development Staff, Raising Funds, and Pushing Forward With
At the present time, the company's leading product is its "Roof Tile". This is being used in over 300 buildings, public facilities, and other locations as the foundation for roof top greenification. This product is made from specially treated peat obtained from the highlands of China. It has both the contradictory properties of shedding and retaining water and is superior in air permeability and fertility as well, so need only be watered once a week. The peat material was developed by the company in a JETRO technical and industrial exchange project with China. Further, due to Mr. Masaki's knowhow in analyzing water conservation systems in desert greenification projects picked up during his stay in Egypt, it did not take that much time from development to commercialization. Being a pioneer in the field of roof greenification, the company has been featured in exhibitions and by the mass media. This has also proven effective in terms of PR.
One recently developed product is its "Rubrick" recycled rubber bricks made using used tires. When making a followup visit to a kindergarten to which the firm had delivered roof soil, the company heard about children getting
hurt when leaning against bricks. It recognized this as a new need and developed the new product within one month. According to Mr. Masaki, the key points in product development are marketing, timing, and the product price and size. Even a good idea is just garbage or industrial waste if there is no need for it. Mr. Masaki himself is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. He works under the motto of "development in advance of needs". He uncovers new needs, looks for development staff having technical experience and knowhow, and searches for means for raising funds for development and commercialization. The crucial element is a good project manager for coordinating and pushing all of this forward. This function is fulfilled by Mr. Masaki who puts to good use the experience he gained in plant construction in his Egyptian days.
Natural Grass Carpet
The Roof Soil
Brick for Flowerbeds
Overseas Technology Transfers and Guidance in Manufacturing and Sales Knowhow
The Company has eight employees. Mr. Masaki personally concentrates on the business and development end and has constructed a domestic network of about 50 agents. The number one requirement for becoming an agent is capital for business activities. The company provides consultation and the products.
Overseas, the Company is interested in Shanghai, Beijing, New York, Singapore, and the urban areas of Malaysia etc., but due to the problem of transport costs, believes that rather than selling products, transferring the technology for local production would be more appropriate. Right now, the firm is winning high marks for its technology and building trust through for example its booth at the UNIDO exhibition. It is currently in negotiations with a Bahrain resort developer over a licensing agreement. In this project, it is scheduled to provide technology for a new factory and regular guidance on both production and sales.
(By: Chieko Ogaki, Business Services Center,