Partner Story: APTe
Partner Story: APTe
How APTe and Dinnissen became market leader in Japan
APTe (Advanced Process Technologies) is one of our most valued partners. APTe Japan specializes in importing various machines from Europe and the US and is active in the feed, food and chemical industries. In about 20 years, APTe has sold over a hundred Dinnissen machines in Japan, mainly vacuum coaters and double shaft paddle mixers for the feed market.
In this interview, Kimio and Ryo Aono elaborate on:
- The success story of how APTe and Dinnissen achieved market leadership in Japan
- How APTe has sold 88 mixers and 25 vacuum coating systems in 20 years
- The distinctive way of doing business in Japan
"ONE DAY THERE WAS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE AND ONE OF DINNISSEN'S ENGINEERS IMMEDIATELY TOOK ACTION DURING THE WEEKEND. I HAVE NEVER SEEN OTHER FOREIGN PARTNERS DO THIS."
Mr. Kimio Aono on the start of the partnership
"Before starting my own company, I worked for 20 years at an international equipment manufacturer as manager of the Feed Machinery department in Japan. During my time there, a Japanese fish feed producer inquired about the newly developed vacuum coating technology that Dinnissen had invented in collaboration with an international company. This exciting new technology enabled fish feed producers to add a lot of oil to extruded pellets, making their feed radically more nutritious. However, the company I worked for did not have this new technology, so our head office put me in touch with Dinnissen. So my first encounter with Dinnissen, about 23 years ago, was when I sold their vacuum coating system under the name of another company.
Twenty years later, I visited Dinnissen in the Netherlands to meet Mr. Maes, the owner of Dinnissen at that time. We saw the potential of the combination of Dinnissen's high-tech machinery and my twenty years of industry experience in Japan. Together we would be able to help many feed producers improve the quality of their products and processes. We decided to join forces and start selling vacuum coating systems and double paddle mixers to Japanese feed, fish feed and pet food producers.
In 2001, I founded AEROX Japan and four years later I changed the name to Advanced Process Technologies or APTe Japan. Today, APTe Group is an organization of 20 people, and one of them is my son and successor Ryo. Our strength still lies in the combination of Dinnissen's high-quality solutions and the engineering and technical services of our experienced engineers."
Mr. Ryo Aono (left), Mr. Kimio Aono (middle) & Mr. Jiro Sugiyama (right).
“Dinnissen-machines are top of the line: high-tech, high production capacity and very reliable.”
Selling the first Dinnissen machine
"When I founded the new company, two experienced engineers joined APTe. One of them was Mr. Jiro Sugiyama, our current Technical Director, a valued colleague since day one. Without his technological competence and leadership, we would not be where we are today. Back then, our first and foremost priority was to sell the first machines. The second priority was to do everything possible to make this first customer very satisfied with us and the machines from Dinnissen. Fortunately, my two colleagues performed excellently in this respect. Because if we'd had major problems with the first machine, Dinnissen's chances of a successful future could have been completely gone. In Japan, it is not easy to get a second chance. Japanese organizations are very careful and conservative, especially in feed markets. Selling the first Dinnissen machines (then an unknown brand) proved to be a challenge. So our personal connections and the trust we had built up in the years before were crucial in selling the first machines.”
The turning point of Dinnissen in Japan
“After selling several Dinnissen mixers, an important big project came our way. The largest feed producer in Japan, a cooperative group with 23 plants, approached us. We absolutely could not lose this project and our competitor wanted to win this project at all costs. They tried to price us out of the market and the whole industry was watching.
I decided to contact Mr. Maes and asked him to help with pricing, he replied this way, "Kimio, I trust you, I will follow your pricing strategy, go ahead if you think it is best." We got this project and made the customer very happy. Today we have sold a total of more than 40 Dinnissen machines to this group. Without Mr. Maes' strong leadership and vision, we would never have been able to achieve today's success.”
The biggest vacuum coating system in Japan.
Growing business in Japan
“The key factor for further business expansion was how Dinnissen and we could tailor our services to the Japanese way of doing business. Japanese customers have very high standards. They value quality, are very strict and like to avoid problems or mistakes very much. In Japan, you are responsible for everything, even for minor problems, and when they occur you must respond quickly. To be successful in Japan, we had to adhere to the Japanese way of doing business.
And when you are in the machinery business, problems are inevitable. Especially in Japan, it is crucial to avoid problems. Even rumors of problems travel very rapidly in Japan. In the beginning, Dinnissen was not organized to meet these high Japanese standards. This meant that we sometimes had to cover for Dinnissen. Our engineers worked very hard to solve various technical problems or errors. They often worked late into the night at customers' sites. However even today, in Japan it is very common to work on weekends, even today.
But the more we worked together, the more Dinnissen improved. And step by step, Dinnissen's production processes and quality control improved. Especially in the last ten years, Dinnissen developed strongly. Nowadays, they are more flexible in following the Japanese way, technical problems have been greatly reduced, and they have optimized and automated many of their processes. Meanwhile, the cooperation between the technical teams of Dinnissen and APTe is excellent. This cooperation was important, but it was not the main reason why we were able to become the market leader in Japan. In our way to the top, two things were very important:
- Dinnissen-machines are top of the line: high-tech, high production capacity and very reliable
- Our experienced engineers are commercially strong and provide high-level technical services
Of course, our knowledge of doing business in Japan has also contributed significantly to our joint success. But the excellent reputation of Dinnissen's machines has helped us to sell more year after year. Last year, our company celebrated its 20th anniversary and we passed the milestone of 100 Dinnissen machines sold.
Dinnissen machines are performing well, and our customers are satisfied. This is evident from the fact that we have received many repeat orders. By now, we have sold 88 mixers and 25 vacuum coating systems, and Dinnissen machines have built a strong reputation in Japan.
Dinnissen's employees, both salesmen and engineers, are positive and cooperative and understand the Japanese way of doing business. And when needed, they respond quickly. One day there was an important problem, and one of Dinnissen's engineers immediately took action even on the weekend. I have never seen other foreign partners do this.”
The future of APTe and Dinnissen in Japan
“As in many parts of the world, the problem of labor shortages is growing in Japan. In the feed industry, it is becoming more and more problematic. Most of our customers may not be able to do the maintenance of their machines themselves in the near future. And the service and maintenance requests to us would be increasing from year to year. Soon, we may not even be able to meet them. I therefore see many opportunities in creating new techniques and innovations that make machines maintenance-free. For Dinnissen this is an excellent opportunity to show that they can also lead the market in this area.
We hope that we can continue the successful and reliable relationship with Dinnissen in the future. However, I believe that we cannot rest on our laurels. Further improvement of quality control and continuous efforts to reduce problems and errors remain necessary. This means that Dinnissen and APTe must continue to strive to keep getting better every day.”
Mr. Kimio and Ryo Aono - APTe Japan