2008-03-05 at 2:48:43 pm #21417
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.
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.”
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.”