By Kenji Shimizu in Washington
Japanese expressway company NEXCO West has obtained several contracts for road maintenance in the United States. While this company’s technology is superior, it was practically unknown when it started making inroads into the U.S. It had had a hard time fighting the thinking in the public works sector that past performance results are vital, but thanks to the marketing efforts and resourcefulness of its U.S. subsidiary, it was able to make inroads into the market. It sees the Trump administration’s expansion of infrastructure investments as a great opportunity for business expansion.
NEXCO West opened an office outside Washington in 2011. At that time, its current president Masato Matsumoto, 45, visited various regional governments to market the company’s technology. While government officials showed an interest, they were reluctant to sign any contract because the company had no record of past projects in the U.S. Therefore, Matsumoto came up with the idea of free inspections to accumulate a record of past performance results and to advertise the company.
Thanks to such efforts, it now has contracts with 10 states. Since its technological level is now recognized, it has been obtaining contracts for the inspection of subway bridges and buildings. It has also sold inspection devices and analytical software to Brazil.
The Japanese and U.S. governments signed a memorandum on cooperation in infrastructure construction and maintenance for expressways last October. Expansion of infrastructure investments under the Trump administration also opens up business opportunities for Japanese companies. However, U.S. companies are also eager to take advantage of such opportunities. Requirements for “past performance records” also represents a hurdle. Matsumoto notes, “Unless we show them specifically how our technology could be useful rather than just talking about our superior technology in general terms, nobody will pay attention. It is also necessary to have personnel who are willing to take on various challenges in order to build up achievements.” (Abridged)