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Fuji Hunt to concentrate on inkjet printing - Fuji Hunt's current Managing Director, Paul Borloo has been succeeded by Shinichi Fujii who was previously manager of the finishing division at Fuji Photo Film's factory in Ashigara, Japan. Fujii sees inkjet as a still expanding field, and intends to capitalise on it to sustain Fuji Hunt's business.
When Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., Tokyo, acquired Olin Hunt's worldwide photochemical business in 1989 and renamed it Fuji Hunt, it was generally expected that Japanese managing directors would be appointed to run the subsidiaries as was the normal procedure with other parts or the Fuji Photo Film organisation. However, recognising the value which the existing management added to the Fuji Hunt operation, including the Belgium-based plant covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East where Paul Borloo has been CEO for the last 14 years, the decision was made to keep it in position.
Having been with the company since 1982, managing director Paul Borloo retired with effect from 1 April this year, though he will continue to work in an advisory capacity for the next 12 months, and will regularly attend the company's offices in Sint Niklaas, near Antwerp.
Borloo has been succeeded by Shinichi Fujii who was previously manager of the finishing division at Fuji Photo Film's factory in Ashigara, Japan. The range of products for which Fujii was responsible included colour negative film and paper, graphic arts film, some of the x-ray films, as well as movie and instant films.
Fujii joined Fuji Photo Film Co in 1972 after graduating from the Hokkaido University in electronics engineering. He worked initially as a process engineer in the coating and emulsion-making sector before moving to the finishing division. Promotion required Fujii to travel widely on behalf of the group, so this move to Europe is not a new experience for him.
Fuji was part of the colour paper plant construction team of the Tilburg factory in the Netherlands from 1984 to 1989. During this 5-year period he was regularly travelling between Japan and The Netherlands before taking on a similar mission in Greenwood, South Carolina, USA, where he stayed until 1998. It was after this assignment that he returned to Japan to head up the Ashigara plant finishing division.
Now facing Europe's most volatile photographic market, Fujii believes the strength and spread of Fuji Hunt will be a great asset in facing the challenges ahead. Due to our diversity we are currently enjoying a good business period, he says, but this will not be easy to maintain in the future, and I see the need for developing strong partners in Europe.
Fuji Hunt's expansion in the field of pressroom chemicals is strong and has achieved much - it is now the leading supplier in the world for these products, and expects to progress further. The outlook for photo products is not so clear, but the spin-off benefit of the company's involvement in inkjet imaging products has done much to balance what would otherwise be a difficult market.
Fujii sees inkjet as a still expanding field, and intends to capitalise on it to sustain Fuji Hunt's business. There is still a great deal of business in the photochemistry area as well, he says, and we are working hard to develop our market share which has benefited recently from the withdrawal of other key players, but inkjet products are growing in importance, and much attention will be directed to expanding our activities in this sector.
Keeping a close watch on the marketplace and anticipating future trends is a practice which Paul Borloo has followed since joining the company 24 years ago, and becoming managing director in 1992. He sees successfully answering the challenges which changes in the market and their consequences on the business brought forth over the years as one of his most important achievements.
The corporate side of the business also kept Borloo busy. Apart from facing, and accommodating, the major changes which the acquisition of the company by Fuji Photo Film brought about, he spearheaded Fuji Hunt's own acquisition trail with its takeover of major players in the pressroom chemistry sector. These included Solco and DS Germany, as well as DS Chemport in Malaysia and Australia.
Borloo considers his appointment as the managing director of a Japanese company without any other Japanese managers - a development quite exceptional in any industry where Japanese manufacturers are major players - as another notable achievement. This signified an important degree of recognition and trust in local management, he comments modestly.
Successfully negotiating with companies with a view to possible acquisitions provided a great deal of personal satisfaction for Borloo, as did the opportunities he instigated and developed for working on an international level, taking in all European countries, much of Africa, and dealing with American and Asian business partners worldwide.
Leaving the company with a challenging future, Borloo believes Fuji Hunt is ready and well prepared for change. Thanks to the importance which the Fuji Photo Film Group attaches to the development of new business and technologies, Fuji Hunt has been able to prepare a strategic approach which includes setting up an innovation cell to leverage the R&D opportunities within Fuji Photo Film. The company will develop these into new Fuji Hunt business market opportunities, he says.
So far, Fuji Hunt has been hardly affected by the digital evolution, essentially due to its diversification strategy, which will continue, and the development of new businesses. It is quite impressive how much Fuji Photo Film Co. invests in its R&D activities, and this gives Fuji Hunt the confidence that it can rely on the impressive technologies constantly being developed within the group as part of its own future progress.
Away from the demands and pressures of working with a world-leading company, Borloo is looking forward to his retirement: I have too many things to do in life which is so short, he says. I am an outdoor person with a big garden and house to maintain, and I find a lot of satisfaction in doing this and working with my hands.
Extensive travel on behalf of Fuji Hunt has not blunted Borloo's keen appetite for seeing more of the world, which he hopes to do, while taking care of his collection of vintage cars also keeps him occupied.
Boredom? he queries. That is no issue for me as I have never had time to ask myself what to do first.