Jan/Feb 2021

RHF in Japan. Or: When employees get itchy feet.

Reilhofer KG has been active on the Japanese market for more than 20 years. Together with the local partner, Automax, customers are visited, projects are coordinated on site and data analyses are done. Unfortunately, everything currently has to work remotely for Manuel Willander, who looks after the automotive industry there for RHF. Since Japan is an important market for Reilhofer KG, the detailed RHF website is now also available in Japanese language to simplify the flow of information in these (and future) days. We spoke to Manuel about his work before, during and after the pandemic.

For the latest newsroom article we called Manuel, as agreed. He tells us right from the start that he has just finished a conversation with the Automax sales rep, Kushida-san. Automax is the Reilhofer sales partner in Japan: “Kushida-San is currently working on a test bench designed by Automax for a cold engine test. I am in close contact with him in order to provide diligent support. “When we asked how communication was going in times of Corona, Manuel replied: “Communication and access is via team viewer, live videos and various messengers.”

Manuel and Kushida-San at the customer’s side in Japan before Corona panedemie

Manuel Willander is the main contact person at Reilhofer KG for all activities on the Japanese market. He took on this task 3 years ago and has been on site at least once a month since then. Until last year the customer visits were suddenly no longer possible. “The travel restrictions hit me hard. Because when it comes to project tasks, updating systems, supervising active tests, working on improvements, explaining and implementing functions and system structure, this works best when you are on site.”

And he goes on to report: “Before Corona, it was often the case that as soon as I received a call, I was almost on my way to the airport. I was always available and immediately on site to offer customers the best and fastest possible support – maybe even the best support in the world,” he laughs and regrets that he has not been able to travel to Japan for over a year.

Since more than a year Manuel has been only to Japan virtually

If someone raves about their work, then there must be other fascinations of the country that touches Manuel, aren’t they? “Yes that’s true. I am also enthusiastic about the country’s culture, architecture and nature. And the excellent cooking “ART”, for example, which turns every dish into something special. It’s also funny that you often have to take off your shoes before entering a restaurant. And now I’m really proud to be able to eat everything with chopsticks. Almost everything,” he adds with a laugh. “In my day-to-day work, I am also enthusiastic about the excellent expansion of public transport for short and long distances, which makes visiting the customer locations across the country very comfortable over distances of 100s of kilometers.”

Japanese architecture, culture and culinary art are also missed.

When asked about a few examples for customers, the expected and well-known automobile companies were named: Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi. They primarily rely on the deltaANALYSER for early damage detection in engine and transmission development. “The circumstances of the eolANALYSER for quality assurance in production are also being recognized more and more, and so the eolANALYSER is also conquering the new market step by step – or rather, test by test,” Manuel continues.

If you work in global sales and customer service, you are naturally eager to be there again soon. It is the same with Manuel. He hopes to travel soon this year. “Why am I dying to be able to go to Japan again myself? Because I finally want to lend a hand again, want to discuss the issues directly with the people on site and want to be a personal support to our customers.” Communication is simply different via video and telephone conferences than when you face each other in person, explains Manuel. “But as long as I don’t travel, the Teamviewer and WeChat are my best work colleagues,” he laughs, “and I also have to straighten my suits for the hopefully soon first trip. Because nothing works in Japan without a suit on duty.” And our interview time has already expired. Manuel is already typing on the keyboard. Curiously, we ask what he’s doing now? “I’m just opening the new Japanese version of our Reilhofer website and am about to have a conference call with a Japanese customer who is already using the deltaANALYSER, but would like to know more about the eolANALYSER.” Manuel said in a friendly manner さ よ う な ら (“Sayōnara”) and is back in Japan.

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