Hideharu Hori is the heir apparent to the top job at Horizon, the grandson of the company’s founder who started the business shortly after the end of the war.
His son Ejiro Hori is now running the business and has no plans to step down. When he does Hideharu is being prepared to replace him. Currently the younger Hori is working at Horizon in Germany, the company’s only overseas business.
He joined the family firm only in August last year having graduated in chemical engineering and joined a digital print business where he had been working on toner formulations. “I am still learning about our company,” he says. “ I did not know about finishing, but laser printing is not so different. It’s about handling paper and the characteristics of that paper.”
“As part of that I have been spending time in Europe to understand the dealers across Europe and the different conditions in each market.
“Fortunately this has pretty much met my expectations of what things would be like before I came here. German people for example are very logical and strict with everything.”
The decision to come to Europe is an indication of the importance the company attaches to the market here. His father had been sent to North America as this was at the time the largest export opportunity and sales to Europe had not yet begun.
These began in the 1980s, the Japanese company finally agreeing to allow Graphic Arts Equipment, the precursor to IFS, to represent and sell its equipment in the UK.
Europe has been good to the Japanese manufacturer. Today it boasts a modern facility not far from Hamburg including a showroom featuring representatives of the latest pieces of equipment and a vast spares store.
Horizon has learned from earlier experiences and now ships a complete set of spares with every new machine it introduces. Parts are only a short flight away rather than the two days it would take to get these from Japan.
Hori himself will be returning to Japan early in the summer having been away from his young family for six months. He will return if not with an appreciation of German culture and the language and an understanding of its food. Some Japanese colleagues have not taken to the diet in the same way, he says. “It has been less easy for some of my colleagues – I am more exile.”
He shares the same outlook as his father. “We want to make something that helps our customers.That will mean more automation, perhaps developments in software to create smarter connections between processes.
“In the meantime I intend to keep learning about the market and to understand the new possibilities in the industry.”
Hideharu Hori is grandson to the company's founder and son of Ejiro Hori who was sent to North America to learn about export markets. Hideharu has been sent to Germany, a mark of the importance of European customers to the Japanese company.