'We're serving not just consumers but idols, and that's something we can brag about'
Updated: 2017-03-03 07:00
By Sophie He in Hong Kong(HK Edition)
Motokuni Takaoka, chairman and chief executive of airweave inc, took over the reins of the company owned by his uncle in 2004 when he was just 40.
Initially, he was in charge of running a power line manufacturing business started by his father, with sales reaching $82 million every year.
His uncle's company was selling machines producing fishing nets but competition was fierce, so his father suggested that Takaoka had a go at it.
"I found that my uncle's company was producing a rather unique material that was originally used for fishing nets. We combined that material with new technology to produce mattresses and other bedding products," Takaoka tells China Daily.
The inspiration also came partly from a traffic accident he had when he was a youth, which resulted in him suffering a stiff back. He was also unhappy with the mattresses he had and, applying the knowledge he had garnered while studying engineering, physics and mathematics in college, he started developing the material for mattresses.
"We began making this mattress in 2007. It was my debut in the consumer business, something that's so very different for me," he says.
He was very happy to be in the consumer trade as he had also studied business administration and he knew marketing.
"After I started selling, I found it was indeed tough to penetrate the bedding industry. We might have the best product, but people would only know that by having actually used it and that is after they've bought it. The first three years were very difficult for us, it wasn't easy to get people to understand the product before they bought it."
The company was forced to alter its strategy by cutting out most of the advertising and focusing on building up the brand. It later started supplying the products to athletes, good airlines and hotels, and sales went up.
"My business philosophy is that we should be committed to the customer, otherwise the company won't last," says Takaoka. For the consumer trade, "we can't think that after selling a product to a customer, it's all over".
"We're not selling them just a mattress, but a good sleep. We must be committed to the quality."
Airweave's employees are motivated, happy and proud, he says. They're providing products to their idols - Japanese and Olympic stars from across the globe - and that's something for them to brag about.
Bedding products entrepreneur Motokuni Takaoka, airweave's chairman and chief executive officer, shares the most valuable lessons in the bedding business, and is poised for a big push into the Chinese mainland over the next few years.Parker Zheng / China Daily
(HK Edition 03/03/2017 page9)