Joe Leffler, vice president of sales and marketing for Tanaka
Following their absorption by Hitachi Koki USA Ltd (Hitachi Power Tools) in 2008, it may seem that handheld equipment manufacturer Tanaka has been riding it out in the background. Coming out of a transitional period, they have introduced several new products and hope to become a bigger contender in the outdoor power equipment market.
“Tanaka was purchased by Hitachi three years ago and has been fully integrated as a brand within the group over the last year,” explains Joe Leffler, vice president of sales and marketing for Tanaka. “Now, with Hitachi’s resources and dedication behind the brand, we believe Tanaka will make an impact on the industry and emerge from its niche market into a more mainstream contender in every outdoor power equipment category.”
After the acquisition, some challenges were faced in managing production and logistics. Spending some time fully addressing these issues has left them in a more competitive position with a strong handle on the business.
“We faced what every company deals with during an acquisition of this size: understanding the manufacturing process, logistics challenges, manpower issues, redefining strategy, relocating to be more efficient, and integrating best practices to emerge with a business that makes sense for both Hitachi and Tanaka,” says Leffler. “We have assembled a premier network of distributors to represent the Tanaka brand, and have Hitachi’s support and expertise in global manufacturing and research and development. The Tanaka brand has emerged in a more competitive position.”
Products and Support
The groomed network of distributors they have created after integrating into the Hitachi group has helped them greatly in redefining their dealer network. “We are pleased with the number and quality of committed dealers we established,” says Leffler. “We have a very ambitious strategy to grow the dealer network year after year.”
Tanaka has introduced 13 new products in the last year. Recent product introductions include trimmers, brush cutters, chainsaws, blowers and a multi-task tool.
Tanaka reported strong equipment sales their first full year under the Hitachi group (2010), and they anticipate a steady growth in years to come. “Heading into 2011, we are optimistic,” says Leffler. “We realize it will take time to get where we want to go, but we are on the right track.”
Leffler says Tanaka will soon be introducing 15 or more new low-emission products featuring Tanaka’s PureFire technology including a 40cc chainsaw, a 51cc chainsaw, more trimmers and even a cordless 18V Lithium Ion trimmer that will feature technology developed by Hitachi.
To grow awareness of their products and bring customers to their dealers, Tanaka is aggressively promoting the products to the end-user market and educating on the quality of the brand. Becoming a well-known brand is a principal goal for Tanaka.
“With the backing of Hitachi, we have the resources and dedication to fund these promotions 100%, which helps our dealers and distributors feel confident in promoting the Tanaka brand,” says Leffler. “This isn’t the old Tanaka. We are not looking to fly under the radar and be a niche brand. We have a strong product line and the strength of our parent company behind us to help us reach our goals.”