Tsuneishi Cebu execs reveal future plans

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On the cusp of their 20-year anniversary, the joint venture between the Aboitiz family and Japanese shipbuilder Tsuneishi are setting new goals.

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu) Inc. (THICI) occupy the sprawling West Cebu Industrial Park-SEZ in the sleepy town of Balamban, Cebu, along the picturesque Tañon Strait.

Since operations began in 1994, what used to be a single wharf is now an enormous manufacturing facility several times larger than Balamban.

According to THICI president Hitoshi Kono, of its 13,000 employees in the Philippines, 70% are local hires.

During a press briefing to mark THICI's 20 years in the country, PEZA director general Lilia de Lima revealed THICI is obligated to sell 30% of their products and services locally.

This condition is part of THICI's long-term strategy for Asean, which includes building inter-island transport vessels.

“Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, their economies are growing fast and they need smaller ships, so we're now starting” says managing director Kenji Kawano. But, Kawano adds, these plans are tentative and the only progress so far is a new shipyard in Indonesia.

Today, THICI builds 21 ships a year—mostly bulk carriers—in three categories: Handymax, Kamsarmax, and the 180,000-ton Capesize that are designed for crossing the Cape of Good Hope.

By the end of 2014, THICI would have launched 200 ships from their Cebu shipyard.

Tsuneishi is also preparing to deliver new classes of smaller, more fuel-efficient ships in the 34,000 to 45,000-ton range. Another goal is increasing output from 30 to 35 ships per annum in the near future.

Tsuneishi, or Tsuneishi Holdings Corporation, is an almost 100-year old Japanese maritime firm that ranks among the top 10 largest shipbuilders in the world—all of whom are in East Asia.

Aside from Cebu, Tsuneishi maintains shipyards in Zhoushan City, China, and in Tadotsu and Fukuoka in Japan.

True to its Japanese values, Tsuneishi Holdings actively promotes its various CSR programs (tree planting, recycling, etc.) and its community-driven employee amenities. One Japanese manager quoted in a Tsuneishi brochure recalled his favorite company perk in the Philippines.

“I used to dive every two weeks and had about 300 dives in three years,” said veteran employee Nabuo Sagawa about his time working with THICI. Before his transfer to Japan, Sagawa took advantage of an uncommon bonus: “I was given the Revitalizing Leave and I traveled to Palau by myself and enjoyed the beautiful sea.”


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