CANYCOM

Winning Customer Love

A manufacturer of carriers and mowers for agriculture and construction,
Canycom has a highly distinctive approach to business.

The factory of Kyushu-based Canycom is adorned with enormous signs that proclaim “Manufacturing is like a love song.”

The phrase actually comes from the title of a book by Hitoshi Kaniyuki, Canycom’s chairman, in which he expounds his business philosophy. What exactly does he mean? “Big companies make products for everyone, ” he explains. “Small companies like us craft things for a single person as though singing a song to their lover.”

Canycom, in other words, believes in responding to its customers’ personal concerns and helping them overcome real, everyday problems. “We make products that address the gripes of one individual, but inevitably lots of other people share the same needs,” explains Kaniyuki. “In that way, a single ‘love song’ product ends up pleasing a broad audience.”

As an example, take Canycom’s bestselling 4WD riding mower, which boasts numerous features not found on rival machines. Thanks to four-wheel drive, it is stable enough to mow the grass safely on steep inclines like river embankments or on ground made bumpy and irregular by molehills. Thanks to its low profile, it can mow under low boughs in orchards and vineyards. And thanks to a blade that can be adjusted in small increments, it can cut grass to the optimum height for insect control.

“Everything we make is a ‘world first,’” Kaneyuki declares. “We don’t produce any me-too products. That doesn’t mean we show off technology for its own sake. It’s technology to serve customer needs.”

Kusakariki Masao

Kusakariki Masao

Designer at work

Designer at work

Innovation Focus

Of course, coming up exclusively with innovative products is far from easy. For example, it took Canycom six years to create the 4WD rider mower, because of challenges like devising a drive shaft that bent around the mower blade beneath the chassis.

To solve these sort of technical challenges, Canycom employs 30 R&D staff and 6 designers—or almost 15% of all the firm’s 250 employees. Such is Kaneyuki’s passion for design that he hopes to promote someone from his design team to the board to boost design’s influence.

Inspiration for the design of the rider mower came from a number of sources. The low seat came from Formula 1 cars and the distinctive multicolor bodywork from Kutani ware, a variety of seventeenth-century Japanese porcelain. “Colorful machines are more visible and safer as a result,” Kaneyuki says. “Besides, everyone loves their colorful look.”

The same playful spirit permeates Canycom’s brand identity, with the last three letters of the corporate brand mark tilting at an angle of 30 degrees to communicate the ability of the company’s vehicles to operate on challenging terrain. Jokey product names like Bush Cutter George—a large mower named after the 43rd president of the United States—generate a positive response all around the world. “Agricultural machinery has such a boring image,” Kaneyuki explains. “We were determined to get away from that.”

Bush Cutter George

Bush Cutter George

Corporate brand logo

Corporate brand logo

Expansion Plans

And Canycom is a truly global company. Since its first ventures into the Swiss market in the early 1980s, the company now sells into 42 countries around the world, with United States, Germany, France and Scandinavia are its top overseas markets.

Kaneyuki’s ambition is to establish a presence in one hundred markets worldwide. To supercharge the company’s export drive, he has hired a swathe of new, non-Japanese employees. They now account for around 10% of staff, a high proportion in Japan’s conservative business culture.

“If I tell my people, ‘I want to move into Africa,’ they may not take me seriously. But if I hire someone from Africa, then they know I mean business,” says Kaneyuki, who is expecting demand to surge in Africa, China and India.

Having managed to increase sales by around 10 times over the last thirty years, Kaneyuki is no less upbeat about Canycom’s future. “We are successful because our products are expensive,” he concludes with typical forthrightness. “Cheap manufacturers have no grasp of the real issues. Their machines are functionally inferior,
even dangerous. At Canycom, we listen to our customers and make what they want us to make. We are not popular because we are cheap. We are popular because we are the best.”

Chairman Kaneyuki

Chairman Kaneyuki

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