March 30, 2012
One Year On from 3/11: Interview with Nissan Prince Miyagi President Masaki Kobayashi
March 30 – Sendai, Miyagi – The Global Media Center interviewed Masaki Kobayashi, president of Nissan Prince Miyagi, in June, just three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated much of the Tohoku region, including large parts of Miyagi. Earlier this week, Kobayashi gave another interview, discussing progress made a year after the twin disasters.
Q1: What is the current condition of Prince Miyagi operations?
A year has passed and we have received great support from all over the country, both in deeds and words of encouragement. That really lifted us up, and I would like to express my thanks, as that helped to encourage further efforts this year.
There were some employees who lost their lives, some who lost families or relatives, and some who lost their homes. However, we all tried our best to deliver new and used cars to customers in need, or fix others when necessary. We wanted to come to their aid, and this stemmed not just from a sense of empathy, but with eyes on the future. I told our team that we wanted to be thought of as not only as having tried our best, but meeting and exceeding the high expectations for Prince Miyagi.
Thanks to the great effort of our team, business results have been quite good, and now we feel more comfortable in operations. In Sendai, perhaps you can see many places that have undergone repairs or are now even in a better state than before. But if you look at places along the coast, some have just been cleared of debris while other buildings are left with only frames, having been destroyed by the tsunami. We still have a lot of work to do to help our customers.
Q2. Speaking of customers, there are many in your showroom this morning. Did their number rise after the earthquake?
In the case of Miyagi prefecture, cars are a necessity for daily transport. It’s hard to live in this region without a car. Since the earthquake and tsunami destroyed some public transportation, namely bus and rail service along the coast, there has been strong demand for cars, either used or new, as some needed any vehicle, if it ran properly. I still foresee strong demand for compact or “kei“ cars.
Serena, as always, as well as Note, Juke, and Cube. For compact and family cars, as well as kei models, we have seen strong sales. For eco-cars, the government incentive program is continuing, and so we are telling our sales team to proactively contact customers and invite them to showrooms. We can make proposals to customers, but we want them to regard us as a reliable partner.
Q4: Is there a special staff training method?
Yes, as a standard we are always training staff depending on their roles and responsibilities. Right after the quake, it was quite hard to ask customers to visit, so we later contacted them to check their safety and conditions in the wake of the disasters. We’ve consulted each customer on their needs, not only for used and new cars, but some have experienced car problems as the disasters created operational issues that needed to be fixed.
We have invited customers to the showroom, but as you will see, some damaged outlets have been consolidated into one dealership. Thus, there are some crowded showrooms, but we are working on this gradually.
Last year’s video can be viewed here.