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PCB007-May2019

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MAY 2019 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 93 manufacturers. Now, that kind of knowledge is being driven down to front-level people with- in our partners around the world. These folks are not Panasonic employees; they're working with Panasonic on a much higher level than just, "Here's a piece of literature and data, and if you have any questions, call Panasonic." Johnson: The approach, then, is technical train- ing further down—deeper and wider—into the organization. Senese: Correct. You can't just go call on your three favorite customers, drop off some lami- nate in the afternoon, and play nine holes of golf; that doesn't work anymore. The most successful marketing and salespeople in our business are able to expand. Somewhere in the late '80s and early '90s, most of the American laminators developed the model where all of the salespeople had to have some technical ex- pertise and all of the tech service people had to be a little more sales and marketing orient- ed. The division between those roles became blurry, and a lot of people took over sales areas doing both jobs. Panasonic has evolved to that model in North America and it is continuing to evolve in Asia and Europe to the point where it's hard to tell who you're talking to. Johnson: That must make for a powerful feed- back mechanism for product development. Senese: And it means that if we need an an- swer to a question, we have a lot of people to ask. We have a lot of interested parties within our partners and within the company. Pana- sonic is a large Japanese company that has been around for 100 years and maintains a col- laborative culture. There are very few single- person decision makers in our company. There are, to my frustration for a few years, a lot of meetings where you have to come to a consen- sus. Because of that, there are a lot of points of intersection. We can handle getting a lot of information. Our biggest problem going forward—even our CEO talks about it—is how we take that culture of people talking to each other through- out the world and make it go fast enough that the industry can keep going and doing what it needs to do. And that's Panasonic's challenge for getting through the next 100 years. Johnson: Do you see these changing conditions affecting or causing Panasonic to adjust how you're manufacturing, stocking, and distribut- ing? Senese: Historically, Panasonic is a company that found a niche—either a single customer or several customers in a certain geographic area—then built a factory to meet the needs of those customers. If that expanded other places, mostly within Japan, they would do a "copy perfect" plan. They would take the first factory and organization and build a new one some- where else. That's still our basic philosophy for building factories and manufacturing. It doesn't always work, though, in terms of how you go to market, listen to the market, and de- velop new products to go forward. That is where we are evolving the most. Pan- asonic as a company has millions of distribu- tors for all of our different products and has a been successful commercializing the products we make. Distribution plays a much bigger role for us than Panasonic as a whole in the form of how we pick and partner with the distri- bution. Being a laminate distributor has had a high mortality rate over the 40 years I've been Konosuke Matsushita museum.

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