President's Voice-Challenge For Global Market-グローバル市場へのたゆまぬチャレンジを。

Akira Takabayashi, President of Crestec

Crestec has built its document-related business with manuals as the foundation.
Compared to our founding in 1984, with about 10 employees in Japan and overseas, we have grown into a large company with 2,000 employees. In addition, our consolidated sales have grown from 100 million yen to approximately 1.1 billion yen.
In this interview, the president discusses the keys to Crestec's success.

A Global Aim, Our DNA

―――Creating manuals starts with planning and writing, but also includes editing, DTP (desktop publishing), translating, and printing. In the documentation industry where companies must perform all of these functions, how was Crestec able to expand its business?

株式会社クレステック 代表取締役社長 髙林 彰One of the most significant reasons is that we actively pursued opportunities overseas. For example, we have had overseas offices since our founding and have always possessed a global view. Our offices that we have established around the world are our assets and strengths.
In addition, I believe that our spirit to incorporate new technologies without hesitation has contributed to the company’s growth. We have always made efforts to remain one step ahead of our competitors. For example, when word processors (electronic typewriters with basic computer processing functions) were still popular in Japan, we introduced NeXT*1 computers throughout the company. In addition, we were the first Japanese business to offer printing on demand, and were among the first companies to develop support and management systems for creating documents using SGML*2.

*1 NeXT
NeXT, Inc. was an American computer company founded by Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer, after he resigned from Apple. NeXT is also known as the developer of WebObjects, the world’s first Web application framework for businesses. NeXT was acquired by Apple in 1996 and Jobs returned to Apple the following year.
*2 SGML
SGML is a markup language defined by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) that is used to process electronic publications and large amounts of text. Tags are added to each sentence in order to indicate the element type of the sentence in the document structure.

―――Isn’t there a significant risk involved if you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors?

If you have “the spirit to embrace new challenges,” which was also the mind-set of our founder, and if you believe in your skills, you will be able to act quickly without hesitation. It is these qualities of our DNA that are constantly driving our company forward. Of course, there have also been numerous failures that did not meet our expectations. However, considering that we have been able to grow into such a large company as a result of our efforts, our pursuit of new challenges has proven to be a success even when the unsuccessful endeavors are included.

Connecting the World and Expansion

―――Currently, manuals account for approximately 90% of your sales in Japan. How do you plan on developing your business in the future?

imageWhile we will keep manuals as the foundation of our business, we plan on further expanding our solutions business that develops support and management systems for creating documents.
From the beginning, developing these support and management systems for creating documents has been a business that we have intentionally pursued. Documents have special characteristics, rules, and structures, which we are very familiar with. Therefore, we are confident that we have the expert knowledge that is necessary to develop the technical tools to effectively assist you in creating documents.
We have developed communication tools, such as odomasy, which is a document-creation support system for businesses; Jourei-kun, which is a law document support system for local governments; and SYLLABUS SYSTEM, which is for educational institutions. As a result, we have been able to expand our business to include customers in various industries. In the future, I believe that we can generate new business by helping to build relationships between our customers in different industries, with Crestec serving as the hub between the companies.

―――Can you discuss your strategy for overseas expansion, which is a main business?

Regarding the future expansion of our global network, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are very appealing. I feel that we have a great opportunity given the remarkable economic growth of these markets.
In addition, we have additional opportunities with overseas expansion by assisting Japanese companies in their efforts to develop overseas business.
If you launch a business in this current age, you must consider the global market as your market. It is my plan to utilize the extensive know-how that we have accumulated in our own overseas expansion efforts in order to support other companies that are considering expanding to overseas markets.
In addition, I believe that there are opportunities for Crestec to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with other companies in order to further expand our business.

Leading in a New World

―――Crestec’s global view has helped the company continue to grow up to this point. However, what vision do you have for the future of the company?

Our goals are to provide even higher quality, continue developing new businesses, and become a company that is widely respected in society. Our various CSR activities are one part of these goals. For example, we have held "Cultural Exchange through Origami" events*3 at our overseas branches in Indonesia and China. The origami paper for these events is made from the scrap paper that is generated during printing. Through origami, we are able to build a circle of friendship around the world.

*3 Cultural Exchange through Origami
折り紙The origami paper for these events is made from scrap paper and is distributed to kindergartens and other institutions in local communities in order to introduce Japanese culture to each country. These events not only reduce the amount of industrial waste produced, but also bring joy to children and are welcomed by the members of the local communities.

―――This is the final question. Information is being digitized at an ever-accelerating pace, what future do you see for printed paper manuals?

First, I believe that we will never be able to become completely paperless. Even as the user interfaces of products have become more advanced, and users are able to obtain information from more and more sources, I do not think that the paper medium will become useless. This is because paper has many qualities that cannot be replaced easily. For example, electronic media does not have the tangible quality of paper and cannot provide users with the satisfaction of actually possessing the manual. In addition, the concept of a “manual” has already been changing as new devices are released one after the other. Under these conditions where users also value information that is not directly related to the basic operation of a product, it is important to expand into many fields, create new design concepts, and so on. It is also very important to expand our business relationships. For example, we no longer have a business relationship solely with the publication department of a company, but also conduct business with the advertising, planning, and general affairs departments. We also cooperate with many different companies outside of the documentation industry.
Originally, I come from a design background. Although designers possess the ability to create beautiful things, I realized that it was also necessary to able to comprehend matters from a multidisciplinary viewpoint. Customers need plans and designs based on a flexible approach, but now they also seek creative ideas and techniques that complement and truly enhance the user’s experience with their products. Based on this understanding, Crestec is able to evaluate projects from many perspectives in order to offer original services that integrate ideas from many fields. I feel that this is the role of our company. As a result, there are an increasing number of business opportunities for Crestec.
We have the confidence to undertake any challenge. Using Crestec’s DNA and energy, we will continue to develop new, innovative manual formats.