From Toledo to the Far East: A Small Business Overcomes Big Challenges

Tokyo, Japan (WTOL) -The Daiya Seiki Company in Tokyo manufactures precision gauges for Nissan vehicles with micro detailing only workers’ hands can achieve.

Yet the small business faces big challenges, including more expensive raw materials and declining car sales.

The most significant hurdle has to do with the workforce.

Japan is struggling with a decline in the population due to workers aging and low fertility rates.

These factors have squeezed small businesses, resulting in 100,000 small companies closing since 2000.

To combat the business pressures, Daiya Seiki is focusing on its workforce of just 34 and experimenting with new ways to keep them.

Young workers, for example, receive constant and intensive training from older workers who act like mentors and coaches.

And the veterans, including Daiya Seiki’s most senior employee at 72, aren’t forced to retire at the mandatory retirement age of 60.

That’s because his experience is virtually priceless, developing over the years the ability to detect an error to one thousandth of a millimeter.

The precision achieved, not through a machine but workers’ hands, is critical for the gauges’ performance and safety.

The former Japanese Prime Minister YoshihikoNoda was so impressed, he likened a veteran’s hands to “god’s hands.”

Not divine, but forced by circumstances to survive in a competitive business—both for workers and companies.