日経電子版<私の道しるべ >
The Nikkei ”My Guidepost”

2023.10.24

『Opportunity Knocks』

準備万全に聞き澄まし「好機」をつかむ

Prepare well, Listen carefully, and seize the opportunity, when it knocks your door.

Profile

笠 浩一郎
1958年生まれ、東京都出身。84年米国カリフォルニア州に留学中、日本向けの自動車輸出会社を起業し成功を収める。97年帰国後、ブランド品の輸入雑貨店を渋谷に出店、また羽田空港内に輸入高級ペットブティックを出店。2011年急増する防災関連の多様なニーズを受け防災部門を立ち上げる。16年に次の10年を見据える「The Next Dekade」プロジェクトを立ち上げ、事業拡大に伴い、現在のグリーンデザイン&コンサルティングの代表取締役就任。

Born in 1958 ,originally from Tokyo, this individual achieved success by establishing an automobile export company targeting Japan while studying in California in 1984. Upon returning to Japan in 1997, he opened a boutique importing luxury brands in Shibuya and also launched a high-end imported pet boutique within Haneda Airport. In 2011, in response to the increasing demand for disaster preparedness-related products in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, they founded a disaster preparedness division. In 2016, he initiated “The Next Dekade” project, looking ahead to the next ten years, and with the expansion of the business, he currently serves as the CEO of Green Design & Consulting.

Interview

2011年3月11日、東日本大震災を境に、この国の防災業界は大きく動き出した。GDAC社の主力である「災害用備蓄食」においても、保存期間は3年から5年に、今では7年が主流となった。展示会ではアジア諸国のバイヤーも急増、アレルギーにハラル、多言語対応製品への関心は非常に高い。アジアでは特に信頼の厚い日本の技術。この分野をリードすることで、平和への貢献と陰りの見えた国力回復の一助になればと考える。

On March 11, 2011, following the Great East Japan Earthquake, the disaster preparedness industry in this country underwent significant changes. In Green Design & Consulting(GDAC)’s flagship product, “disaster reserve food,” the shelf life extended from 3 to 5 years, and nowadays, 7 years is the norm. At trade shows, there has been a rapid increase in buyers from various Asian countries, and there is a strong interest in allergy-friendly, halal, and multilingual products. Japan’s technology, which enjoys particular trust in Asia, plays a crucial role in this field. By leading in this sector, they hope to contribute to peace and assist in the nation’s recovery from the visible challenges it has faced.

カリフォルニアでつかんだ最初の「Opportunity」とは
偶然にも私の周りには、作家、映画監督、役者、医師、学者など、自らの価値観を信じ活躍する親族が多く、アカデミックな環境に恵まれ育った。10代の頃は人生を模索しさまよう日々であったが、「米国で学んで来い」という祖母の一言で、20代前半にサンフランシスコへ留学。日米問わず交友関係を広げ、カレッジでは日本語教師のアシスタントを務めたりと、西海岸の自由な空気を楽しんだ。そのような中、友人の叔父で、不動産業で成功を収めていた日系ビジネスマンが、私が車好きなことを知り、「日本への車の輸出をやってみないか」と声を掛けてくれた。それをきっかけに、人気のドイツやイタリアのハイエンドな車を。バブルに躍る日本へ輸出を開始した。インターネットのない時代ゆえ、日本の自動車雑誌をすべて買い、広告を載せていた輸入車販売会社に片っ端から国際電話をするという営業スタイルであった。当時は車さえあれば売れる時代であり、日本全国の輸入車販売会社とつながることができ、一回の取引で何千万円もの金額を動かすことが楽しく、のめり込んで行った。

By chance, I was fortunate to grow up in an academic environment surrounded by relatives who believed in their own values and excelled in various fields such as writers, film directors, actors, doctors, and scholars. During my teenage years, I was constantly searching for my path in life. However, with just one word from my grandmother, “Go study in the United States,” in my early twenties, I embarked on a journey to San Francisco. There, I expanded my social circle without borders between Japan and the U.S., and even worked as an assistant to a Japanese language teacher at college, enjoying the free-spirited atmosphere of the West Coast.
In the midst of all this, a friend’s uncle, a successful Japanese businessman in the real estate industry, learned about my passion for cars and suggested, “Why don’t you try exporting cars to Japan?” This served as a turning point, and I began exporting high-end cars from popular brands in Germany and Italy to Japan during the economic bubble. Since it was a time before the internet, my sales approach involved buying every Japanese automotive magazine and making international phone calls to import car dealerships that advertised. Back then, if you had a car, it would sell, and I established connections with import car dealerships all over Japan. It was exhilarating to move multimillion-yen amounts in a single transaction, and I became deeply engrossed in the business.

米国での生活は13年にも及んだが、為替変動の余波もあり帰国を決意。米国で学んだビジネススキルを日本で試したいと考え、帰国後は渋谷に海外ブランドのセレクトショップ、羽田空港に輸入高級ペットブティックを出店。路面店の経営ははじめてであり、顔を見ながらの接客に日々勤しむ。商品を自分の言葉で説明し相手の思いを聞くことで、ニーズやトレンドといったマーケティングの基礎を学んだ。これは今でも大切にしている一つであり、その中に ビジネス成功のヒントがあると確信している。思い起こせば学生時代、数学は得意科目ではなかったが、商売の勘所である「ソロバン勘定」はうまいようで、大きな失敗もなく売り上げを順調に伸ばすことができた。自分の目を信じ買い付けたものが予想通りに売れていくことに、どん底の景気に落ち込む日本で生き抜く自信を深めて行った。

My life in the United States extended for 13 years, but due to the aftermath of currency fluctuations, I eventually made the decision to return home. I wanted to put the business skills I had learned in the United States to the test in Japan. After returning, I opened a select shop for international brands in Shibuya and an imported luxury pet boutique at Haneda Airport. Managing a brick-and-mortar store was a new experience for me, and I dedicated myself to face-to-face customer service. By explaining products in my own words and listening to the customers’ needs and desires, I learned the fundamentals of marketing, including trends. This is still something I hold dear, and I am confident that within it lies hints for business success.
Reflecting on my student days, I wasn’t particularly skilled in mathematics, but I had a knack for “soroban accounting,” which is crucial in business, and I managed to steadily increase sales without major setbacks. Believing in my own judgment and watching the items I purchased sell as expected gave me the confidence to thrive in the midst of Japan’s challenging economic conditions.

そして2011年3月11日の東日本大震災直後、都内で私学の教員をしていた友人から一本の電話をもらった。震災当日、帰宅できない生徒を校内に宿泊させたが、寝袋や毛布の準備がなく、冷たい硬い床の上でつらい思いをさせてしまったという。そこで多くの輸出入経験がある私に、まとまった数の高機能な寝袋を用意してほしいという相談であった。まさにこの1本の電話が、第二の「Opportunity」との出会いであり、現在の「防災事業」に携わるきっかけとなった。

And shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, I received a phone call from an old friend who was a teacher at a private school in Tokyo. On the day of the earthquake, they had to accommodate students who couldn’t go home, but they were unprepared with sleeping bags or blankets. This left the students in discomfort on cold, hard floors. They reached out to me, given my experience in import and export, and asked if I could provide a substantial number of high-quality sleeping bags. This single phone call was indeed the encounter with the second “Opportunity” and became the catalyst for my involvement in the current “disaster preparedness business.”

防災事業には命を守るという「大義」がある
震災当時、災害用飲食品の備蓄率が5割に満たなかったという現実を知る。そのような中、防衛省に保存水や戦闘糧食Ⅱ型と呼ばれるレトルト加工食を製造するグリーンケミー社と出会った。一般的な保存食の賞味期限は大抵3~5年だが、保存期間7年という超長期のレトルト加工食品を製造するメーカーである。その高い技術を活かし民間用の長期保存食を是非作りたいと考え、種類や味、デザインにこだわり企画したものを、製造してもらうようになった。この卓越したレトルト加工技術を有する製造元との出会いもあり、「The Next Dekade」という防災備蓄用の長期保存飲食品のブランドを立上げ販売を開始。震災をきっかけとした全国的な防災意識の高まりと、東京都の帰宅困難者対策の条例施行により、3日分の災害食を常備する企業や団体、家庭が急増した。私たちのブランドでは、アレルギー28品目対応、ハラルや20カ国もの多言語対応、屋外倉庫や車載備蓄対応、さらには自治体や企業の地域貢献につながる「地産地消」によるご当地米使用での保存食製造と、更なる進化の歩みを進めている。防災事業には、すべて人の命を守るという大義があり、社会貢献に通じるこの事業には大いなる自信を深め、日々精進している。

Then I learned about the harsh reality that the stockpile rate of disaster food and beverages was less than 50% at the time of the earthquake. It was in this context that I came across Green Chemie, a company that manufactures retort-processed foods such as stored water and combat ration Type II for the Ministry of Defense of Japan. While typical emergency food has a shelf life of 3 to 5 years, Green Chemie specializes in producing retort-processed foods with an exceptionally long shelf life of 7 years. I saw the opportunity to leverage their advanced technology to create long-term emergency food for civilian use, and I meticulously planned the variety, taste, and design of these products to be manufactured by them.

This encounter with a manufacturer possessing excellent retort-processing technology led to the launch of the “The Next Dekade” brand of long-term shelf-stable emergency food and its subsequent sales. The increased awareness of disaster preparedness nationwide following the earthquake, along with the implementation of Tokyo’s regulations for the care for people unable to return home, resulted in a rapid increase in businesses, organizations, and households keeping a three-day supply of emergency food.

In our brand, we have continued to advance, offering products that accommodate 28 allergens, provide halal options, support 20 languages, are suitable for outdoor storage or in-car stockpiling, and promote “local production and local consumption” by using locally sourced rice, contributing to the community and businesses.

The disaster preparedness business commits a profound cause of protecting human lives, and I have great confidence in its potential for social contribution. We are dedicated to improving and evolving our products daily in pursuit of this important mission.

普段の食事とは異なり、被災時の食事には選択の余地はない。特に避難所では、決められた時間に支給されたものを食べるしかない。だからこそ誰もが食べられる「みんなの保存食」を定義し、販売して行こうと考えている。手軽さやおいしいことはもちろんのこと、アレルギー疾患を持つ方や宗教上の制約がある方、日本語が読めない海外の方にも安心して食べていただける保存食を目指している。例えば、パッケージのQRコードを読み込むことで、原材料や栄養成分を20言語で表示できるよう工夫し、東京五輪では新国立競技場の非常食に採用された。今後は、既に引き合いの多いアジア地域への輸出を含め、私たちの保存食を世界中で広く使っていただけるよう国内外の方とアライアンスを組み、ワールドワイドにビジネスを展開していきたいと考えている。

Unlike our everyday meals, there is no room for choice when it comes to meals during disasters. Especially in evacuation centers, people have no option but to eat what is provided at designated times. That’s why we are committed to defining and selling “everyone’s emergency food” that can be eaten by anyone. We aim to create emergency food that is not only convenient and delicious but also safe for those with allergies, dietary restrictions due to religious beliefs, and even for non-Japanese speakers. For instance, we have designed packaging with QR codes that, when scanned, display ingredient information and nutritional content in 20 languages. This innovation led to the adoption of our emergency food at the New National Stadium during the Tokyo Olympics.

Looking ahead, we plan to expand our business worldwide by forming alliances with individuals and organizations both domestically and internationally. This includes exporting our emergency food to the already interested Asian regions. We want our emergency food to be widely used around the world, and we are committed to making that vision a reality.

私の座右の銘は「Opportunity Knocks」という言葉であり、「好機は万人の元に訪れ、ドアをノックする」という意味である。だが何より重要なことは、「何時も準備を怠らず、ささいなこともおろそかにせず、何より聞き澄ますことに集中し、突然訪れる『好機』を確実にものにすること」と、私は確信する。この新型コロナウィルス禍で既存のビジネスモデルにも変化が生じ、働き手にも今まで以上に柔軟さが求められている。ある意味、社会構造の再編成が起きていると考えるが、いつの日も「Opportunity Knocks」は突然にやってくる。千載一遇の「好機」を確実にものにするために、今できる最大限の準備を万全にしておこうではないか。

My motto is “Opportunity Knocks,” which means that opportunities come to everyone, knocking on the door. However, what’s most important, I believe, is to always be prepared, not neglect even the smallest details, focus on listening above all, and seize the suddenly arriving “opportunity” with certainty. In this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes in existing business models, and greater flexibility is required from workers than ever before. In a way, I believe that there is a reorganization happening in our societal structure, but “Opportunity Knocks” at any time. To make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime “opportunity,” let’s be fully prepared for what we can do right now.