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 user 2008-03-05 at 2:48:43 pm Views: 53
  • #21417

    Ricoh’s Secrets
    Company has 1.4M square feet, 835 workers
    County Calif :Japan’s Ricoh Co. has amassed an empire along the Costa
    Mesa (55) Freeway.But for those who pass by each day, what goes on
    inside the buildings emblazoned with Ricoh’s red logo largely is a

    maker of digital cameras, copiers, fax machines, scanners, printers and
    all-in-one devices for offices is the 10th-largest foreign-owned
    company in Orange County with about 835 workers. It’s the third-largest
    Japanese company here, after Union Bank of California and Toshiba Corp.
    is home to Ricoh Electronics Inc., the manufacturing arm of West
    Caldwell, N.J.-based Ricoh Americas Corp., the U.S. headquarters of the
    Tokyo-based parent company.Ricoh got its start in Japan in 1936. It
    lays claim to the first copier in 1953 and the first digital fax
    machine in 1973.Its presence here is huge: Ricoh has more than 1.4
    million square feet of industrial space spread among eight buildings in
    Irvine, Santa Ana and Tustin.The local operation also has factories in
    Lawrenceville, Ga., and Toluca, Mexico.

    Ricoh’s name has been a
    fixture along the 55 freeway for more than 30 years. Proximity to the
    Port of Long Beach brought it here, said Jeff Briwick, executive vice
    president and group manager of Ricoh Electronics’ corporate strategy
    group.“Back then, product could flow from the parent company in Japan
    into the West Coast and then be deployed across the country to the East
    Coast,” he said. “More than 35 years later, it still works that way.
    Orange County is perfect from a supply chain and distribution

    Ricoh Americas was started in 1962 and does more
    than $3 billion in sales a year. The company doesn’t break down sales
    for any of its subsidiaries, including its local operations.In Tustin,
    Ricoh has three buildings with about 475 workers.One building doubles
    as the administrative headquarters for Ricoh Electronics and as a
    manufacturing plant for digital copiers.In another building, Ricoh
    assembles chips onto circuit boards that go inside its all-in-one
    machines, which are built in the other Tustin building.The all-in-one
    machines are hooked up to a network within an office and can print,
    copy, scan and fax.

    Ricoh also does a bit of contract manufacturing of circuit boards for other companies.
    the same building where Ricoh assembles the circuit boards, it makes
    toner cartridges and recycles empty ones.“We put return mailing labels
    on them so that the customer can send them back at our cost,” Briwick
    said. “It’s part of our environmental policy and it makes sure the
    cartridges don’t go into landfills.”

    The company has three buildings in Santa Ana with roughly 240 workers.
    produces “thermal media” products, or special paper that allows for
    heat-sensitive printing instead of ink. The paper is used to print
    luggage tracking tags by airlines, receipts at gas stations and to
    label meat at supermarket butcher counters.Ricoh puts a special
    chemical coating on the paper, which it gets from other suppliers,
    Briwick said.Another Santa Ana site makes toner—ink that goes into its
    copiers and printers.The last is a huge warehouse, where Ricoh ships
    finished goods throughout North and South America.“We are the primary
    distribution center,” Briwick said.

    The company has two buildings in Irvine, one of which it leases out to other companies.
    other Irvine building is the heart of Ricoh’s local operations, where
    parts for digital copiers and all-in-one machines are made. It has
    about 120 workers.The facility takes raw materials—sheet metal and
    plastic pellets—and shapes the bodies and insides of copiers and
    all-in-ones through a variety of metal stamping and plastic injection
    molding. The pieces get powder coatings and are painted before being
    sent to the factories in Tustin and Santa Ana.

    Local Boss
    Electronics is divided into three operational business groups that each
    report financial results to Chief Executive Shunsuke “Sean” Nakanishi,
    who is based in Tustin.The office machines group handles the copiers,
    circuit board production and the all-in-one devices.The reprographics
    supply group covers toner and thermal printing paper. The third is the
    corporate strategy group.The three groups share some basic operations,
    such as planning, sales forecasting and purchasing, and all work on the
    same production schedule, according to Briwick.

    The big trend for Ricoh is making office machines that print in color.
    output is coming on strong,” Briwick said. “From a communications
    perspective, it’s more appealing. On the technology side, the equipment
    has advanced to the point where the cost of printing in color has
    really come down. It’s more economical to use color in a business
    environment than it was just a few years ago.”

    ‘Cultural Thing’
    many Japanese companies, Ricoh is big on long-term employment.“I’ve
    been here for 20 years, and I’m one of the new kids on the block,”
    Briwick said. “We have people who have been here for 35 years, from the
    beginning. There’s a certain level of job security attached to working
    for a Japanese company. It’s a cultural thing.”Ricoh hasn’t looked to
    outsource any of its local manufacturing because the company takes the
    long view, Briwick said.“The local environment has changed but we still
    have the advantages we had when we first came here,” he said. “Our
    company’s strength is in the long term.”