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· Masanori Mori was Director of Sales Management and Technical Service at J. MORITA EUROPE GMBH (JME) and responsible for all markets outside DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and France. The 61-year-old Japanese director has spent a total of 22 years in Germany during his career with Morita. In this interview he tells us about his history with Morita, with a very special look at life and work in Germany.
Mr Mori, you have worked for over 40 years at Morita. Can you give us a brief summary of this long career?
I was just 20 years old in 1981 and started working as an electrical engineer at Morita in my home town of Kyoto. In the 4 decades that have passed since then, I have undertaken many different jobs from technician to Sales Manager and worked for Morita in a wide variety of places. I was 4 years in Singapore, with three engineers I prepared the foundation of a new subsidiary in Canada and I was based in Germany on three separate occasions for several years: 1987-1991, 2000-2013 and 2017-2022. Basically, I like building something new. If it is successful, I’m happy, but I am also quickly bored and I look for a new challenge. At Morita I can put this curiosity into practice wonderfully anywhere in the world.
Which countries and continents have you visited on your professional travels and assignments for Morita?
It is impossible for me to list all these many places. If I was to give a rough calculation, I was certainly in more than 50 countries, 30 of which were in Europe. I was in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and on the American continent from Mexico to Canada.
You came to Germany for the first time in 1987. How did this come about?
Since I relish the challenge, following my initial years at Morita I could well imagine also working for the company abroad. I didn’t think of Germany at that time. Just like many young people, I also really wanted to go to the USA and asked my manager, whether this was a possibility. But sales weren’t as good as expected exactly at that time and so there wasn’t a position for me in Los Angeles. One day, however, my manager offered me the chance to go to J. MORITA EUROPE in Frankfurt, Germany. I didn’t hesitate long and said yes.
What was your first impression, as you landed in Frankfurt?
At that time there was no direct flight from Japan to Germany. Therefore, after a long journey via Anchorage (Alaska) and Paris I landed in Frankfurt. It was the beginning of January, it was grey, it was cold, I couldn’t speak a word of German and hardly any English, and I felt very lonely. I worked as a technician, repairing and installing our machines. Although I was well received in the company, communication was difficult. At least there were two other Japanese in the company, with whom I could discuss things. At first, I took a language course to learn better English. This was not quite as difficult as German, and I could also use it in many European countries. Spring came at last, and suddenly everything was better and more beautiful. I made friends, with whom I could play golf. This was great, because to play golf in Japan was and is much more expensive than in Germany.
You returned again in 2000 to JME in Germany and remained there for 13 years. What was different from the first time?
In my first time in Germany I had little to do with the organisation of JME and the colleagues. As a technician I was out and about and reported to Japan. In 2000 it was different. The J. MORITA CORP. wanted to increase the export of products to Europe and, above all, sell our X-ray machines on the European market. The 3D Accuitomo was in development and came onto the market in 2001 as one of the first 3-D units worldwide. This was a big opportunity to be successful in Europe with the unit. I therefore came for the second time to Germany, with the task of selling our X-ray machines over here. Personally, it was one of these challenges that appeals to me. Bit by bit I built up a Europe-wide dealer network, authorised dealers, trained technicians and specialist dealers. This was certainly one of the highlights of my career at Morita. In 2013 I took the decision to return and look for a new challenge. This brought me to Singapore for 4 years.
Did you have your family with you during your periods abroad?
I was single during my first years in Germany. But then I met my Japanese wife during an Easter holiday in Zell am See in Austria. And in 2000 we came to Germany together. Our daughter was also born in Germany then.
Despite the many countries that you have got to know, you came for a third time again to Germany in 2017. Why?
By my mid-50s I had been almost 20 years away from Japan and really wanted to take up one last challenge again. My manager offered to send me to the USA. As a young man this had been my great dream. I now had the opportunity, but I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted to go to Europe once again. We had just launched the Veraview X800 there. It didn’t go as we had imagined, however. The unit still had teething troubles and the suppliers were causing problems. Here, I could move the situation forward. I have looked after important customers personally and visited them on occasions as required. It pleases me, if after such a mission at night on the motorway I then receive an email from a customer who appreciates our service and is satisfied. This is also a highlight for me: customer satisfaction! And I would gladly leave this message behind: we must work to ensure that customers are satisfied and always feel that we are there for them.
Will you miss anything about Germany?
I will miss the beautiful natural environment and climate. You don’t see this very often in Japan. There, the land is developed and cultivated almost everywhere. It is particularly beautiful here during summer, when the sun sets only after 9.00 pm. Though the winter is difficult to endure, I now very much appreciate the change of seasons. Everything is clearer in ones memory, if one lives through the changing of the seasons. I still know exactly, for example that it was a cold winter’s day as my daughter was born in Germany. I know very little, however, about the day my son was born, because it was in Singapore where the sun always rises and sets at the same time and the weather is always the same.
You are now returning to Japan and then, at 65, entering a well-deserved retirement. Do you already have plans for this time?
Here at Morita Europe in Dietzenbach everything is progressing well; a suitable time to venture into something new again. I’m going back to Japan and I’m curious as to what challenges are awaiting me there for the last 4 years until my retirement. After that, I will do something completely new. My wife is a language teacher and I have trained countless technicians and sellers in my professional life. Who knows, maybe we will establish a language school in Japan together.