Get to Know Tosoh America

Tosoh introduced a shared-services platform in 2001 to better utilize resources while strengthening consolidated management of our Group. As a result, Tosoh America (TSAM) is providing common Accounting and Human Resource services to primarily Group companies in North America. This essentially means that Tosoh companies are no longer self-contained entities and the employees for Tosoh America are spread across the continent from the Pacific to the Atlantic. In a world where your co-worker can be 3000 miles away, Tosoh felt that events to bring the entire TSAM team together to let everyone get to know each other better would be beneficial. This year it also provided an opportunity to increase efficiency. Here we look at the Third Annual All Tosoh America Employees Meeting 2007.

LEAN principles of waste reduction, process improvement, continuous flow, and efficiency have been routinely practiced in some manufacturing operations within Tosoh Group America. These principles also can apply to office related processes performed every day throughout Tosoh Group. 

Therefore, the focus for the 2007 All Tosoh America (TSAM) Employees Meeting was to learn and implement LEAN tools to make improvements to office processes. Held on August 15-16, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio, about 40 TSAM employees learned about and experienced these LEAN tools. The workshop was lead by Debra Hoffman, Logistics Manager for Tosoh SMD (TSMD), who has over six years experience in implementing LEAN throughout the TSMD manufacturing operation. 

Yutaka Nakamura, President of Tosoh America, kicked off the session by challenging the participants to not only learn the tools, but to truly reduce waste within TSAM operations. The two-day workshop followed a logical progression of learning the LEAN tools, participating in a demonstration of continuous flow (operating a “pipe factory”), observing real improvements made in the TSMD factory, and then mapping five real process challenges confronting the TSAM organization every day.

It is anticipated that utilizing these tools will lead to significant savings in cost, time, and frustration by improving these five processes, as well as others in the future. In addition to the educational experience, renewing relationships among all TSAM employees from throughout the US was both rewarding and enjoyable.

Day in, day out, a company’s workforce focuses on a narrow set of objectives in relation to a specific goal. Over time, the workforce becomes proficient at these objectives in relation to working conditions. Amid increasing globalization, however, change and growth are the name of the game. And that in part means shifting the workforce from its immediate, narrow view to a broader, longer-term perspective. 

Seeing the bigger picture; acquiring the knowledge needed to stay ahead; and brushing up on skills that can make us better, faster, and more successful for the long term is what continuing education is all about. To this end, Tosoh America introduced the Executive Training Program to better its workforce. The return on investment may not be immediately quantifiable, but there is no doubt that learning more will help Tosoh employees enhance their skills and introduce new ideas to their company and ultimately strengthen the Tosoh Group as a whole. 

In 2008, Tosoh America, in conjunction with Ohio State University, offered four more sessions of courses in its Executive Training Program beyond the two courses already offered in the first session. The first course offered, Aligning and Implementing Strategy, was launched on February 6, followed by Finance Essentials on February 7. Both courses drew a large turnout, including global team members from Tosoh Corporation, Tosoh America, Tosoh USA, and Tosoh SMD, which had a stellar showing. 

These first two courses were crafted to provide not only theoretical principles in strategy and finance, but also introduced a variety of real-case scenarios. Since each course was eight hours long, there was time to break into groups to allow the class participants to interact on a number of levels while working on actual problems. This lecture method was particularly effective in letting participants understand the gap between theory and reality. More importantly, it was a way to move from the abstract concepts toward dealing with present-day Tosoh Group challenges. 

Yes, it is valuable for Tosoh employees to break away from the daily grind and to gain a new perspective on the vast world of businesses and strategies. But the most rewarding aspect of a continuing education course for people in business is that it provides the opportunity to better understand your own challenges in a different light. Corporate cultures can be quite closed, with dominant lines of thought prevailing. So hearing a professor’s opinions along with those of people from various companies provides a different plane for dialogue. 

It also is interesting to learn about the limitations of accounting principles. In the real word, we rarely have time to consider the validity of how an arbitrary concept, such as depreciation, is calculated. However, the fact is that many accounting standards fall short of adequately evaluating the true cost or value of operations.

In this sense, both courses allowed time to step out and take a closer look at the tools we take for granted on a daily basis. The more we understand the nature of the systems we use to evaluate our success, the more we should be able to tweak those indicators or to adopt new standards if we find that the old don’t measure up. 

For course participants, it was important to go back and review the course materials to discern if there was something in those materials that could be applied to everyday challenges. In better understanding new and old concepts, we are reminded that it is important to keep learning on a daily basis. Perhaps this continuing education program has already spurred more of us on to proactively learn and grow. 

The second session of the Executive Training Program was held in May followed by two other courses: Performance, Management, and Decision Making and Negotiating and Conflict Management. Decision making and conflict resolution are at the heart of our successes and failures. So the hope is that once again our executives and others so inclined will take advantage of this valuable opportunity to further their insights.

Tosoh is marching on two fronts in its quest to become a hybrid company with a balanced portfolio of commodities and specialties. As part of the Specialties growth strategy, Tosoh early 2008 announced an investment of ¥20 billion to substantially increase its ethyleneamine capacity. Investment and manufacturing however is only half of the story to successful growth. An investment in capacity also requires shifts to occur in sales and marketing operations. This is where establishment of our latest Tosoh Group member, Tosoh Specialty Chemicals USA, Inc., (TSCU) comes into the picture. 

The new Tosoh Group member, Tosoh Specialty Chemicals USA, Inc., was established in early 2008 for the marketing and business development of Tosoh Corporation’s ethyleneamines, TEDA and Toyocat® polyurethane catalysts, and MDI products. Operations commenced on May 1, 2008 with the Vice President, Ken Gay, leading the team from headquarters located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Tosoh Specialty Chemicals USA will be working directly with the Tosoh’s Organic Chemicals Division in Tokyo which will allow for a stronger business presence in the Americas.  

Ethyleneamines and their derivatives find use in a wide variety of applications, such as epoxy hardeners, wet-strength resins for paper, chelates, and pharmaceutical and agrochemical intermediates. The expansion of the Company’s ethyleneamine operations, based at the Nanyo Complex in Yamaguchi, Japan, will boost Tosoh’s total ethyleneamine capacity to 89,000 MT a year and make it one of the world’s top ethyleneamine manufacturers. Tosoh’s annual sales of ethyleneamines are projected to exceed ¥30 billion following the expansion.

On Saturday, October 4, a beautiful autumn day, the Tosoh Group companies at the Grove City site celebrated Tosoh SMD (TSMD)’s 20 years in Grove City, Ohio, with an open house. More than 350 employees and their families and friends were estimated to have joined in the festivities. 

Tosoh SMD became a part of the Tosoh family on July 15, 1988, after its acquisition by Tosoh from Varian Associates. The Grove City site where TSMD is located was completed in 1993 and is now home to six Tosoh Group companies, including Tosoh America, Inc. (TSAM). 

The open house that those companies held in TSMD’s honor featured tours of the facilities, great food, calypso music, and outdoor activities for young and old. It was a great opportunity for employees to share their workplace with their families and friends and to show off their excellent workplace. 

Grove City mayor Ike Stage presented TSAM president Yutaka Nakamura and TSMD president Marty Blazic with an official proclamation designating October 4 as Tosoh Day in Grove City. A number of other local political leaders, always very supportive of Tosoh, joined in the festivities as well. 

With such beautiful weather, outdoor activities were very popular, especially with the kids. A bounce house, putt-putt golf, and face painting were the big draws. 

The Tosoh Social Activities Committee (SAC) did its normal great job in putting together the event. Its members are to be thanked for again volunteering their time to make the Tosoh SMD open house memorable.

Giving has always been an important part of the Tosoh spirit. Especially in hard times, philanthropy and just taking the time to help out others can go a long way to making the world a better place. Tosoh America showed the way in 2008 with a donation campaign that is featured here.

The Christmas season is often called the Season for Giving, and our Tosoh teammates in Ohio took this to a new level in 2008. The Tosoh employees located in Grove City, sponsored a Giving Tree to provide gifts for local children whose families are struggling to find permanent homes and employment. 

A Giving Tree, or Angel Tree, is a program where a Christmas tree is erected and decorated with ornaments containing the names and ages of children in need. The concept is common in the United States during the holiday season and provides a vehicle for individuals to donate new toys and clothes so that young children can share in the joy of receiving a gift when their parents are unable to give one. 

Tosoh employees chose to take on this endeavor, and local management agreed to support the program by donating the tree, employee time, and a place to erect the tree within the Grove City office.  

Ten employees volunteered their time and effort to coordinate the activity and selected the Homeless Families Foundation (HFF) as the beneficiary of the event. The HFF operates a local emergency shelter program for homeless families with children ages newborn to 18. Its mission is to provide entire families with a place to live for up to three months while the parents work with case managers to locate employment and permanent housing. Each shelter unit is fully furnished and includes cookware, linens, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and a starter food basket. 

During the 2008 holiday season, the HFF had 120 children living at the shelter, and our employees chose to provide Christmas presents so that the parents would have the means to provide some joy to their children during what is undoubtedly a difficult time in their lives. 

Our Tosoh teammates responded in force by purchasing gifts and placing them under the tree each day for two weeks. We are proud to say that we provided enough gifts for every single child! The true spirit of Christmas was apparent in this building and employees appear to have enjoyed the chance to participate by giving something of their own to aid strangers in need. One employee sent an e-mail to kick off the event containing the following message: 

"With each of us trying to spend money wisely during these tough economic times we understand you may be hesitant to participate but we hope you might reconsider. Personally I know the benefit of these Giving Trees because as a young child my own name was on such a tree. An unknown person had placed my name on the tree knowing how our Mother struggled to provide for us. Although I will never know who that person was, I will never forget them and what they did for my family." 

Other comments from employees were as follows:  

"Great team effort and great Company effort. In these times of nothing but doom and gloom news in the papers and the media, how nice to know that people still care about others." 

"What a wonderful opportunity this has been for me to be part of. This was put together in such a short period of time; I can only imagine that we will need a Semi truck to deliver the gifts next year when we begin earlier!" 

"I just want to tell you how pleased, happy and excited I am for the gratitude of everyone here at Tosoh! When you see the overwhelming support we got from this giving you can't help but get tears and chills!" 

"Thank you all so much for organizing this opportunity for Tosoh employees to give to others. I appreciate your time and efforts. It was a blessing to participate in such a wonderful outreach." 

Special thanks to Traci Brown, Karen Fahrion, Shio Ito, Amanda Kamnitzer, Mike Mackim, Jessica Newsome, Andrew Smith, Mary Valent, Denise Weygandt, and Tom Wood for coordinating the effort and personally delivering the gifts to the shelter.