Buying for Nikken

19 March 2008

Rich Sato has an interesting job. As president of Americ Corp, the US subsidiary of Japanese rental company Nikken, he is responsible for procuring Nikken's rental products from outside Japan, with annual expenditure of around US$15 million this year.

He says suppliers sometimes “get a big surprise” when they realize that a Japanese rental company is interested in their products, but the surprise usually gives way to pleasure when they understand who Nikken is.

Based in Illinois, US, and now 27 years in existence, the company, led by Mr Sato and his small team, has been responsible for some significant product introductions in Japan,” says Mr Sato. Recent innovations for Japan include small self–propelled booms from Niftylift.

Americ now sources a wide range of US and European products, including aerial work platforms – mainly scissors, because booms are costly to ship and have quite different control systems from Japanese products.

The company is also a supplier to rental companies in its own right, having developed products whose manufacturing is outsourced in the US – that it sells to Nikken, other rental companies, and other industrial users around the world.

This sales side of the business is something that Mr Sato wants to develop. “We have been struggling to find the next product”, he tells AI, “We want to find a niche product.” Access equipment suppliers take note.

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