Japanese coming soon.

Tell us about your company, the services you offer, etc.

THIBAUD "T": The Group was formed 100 years ago, started in Asia, Cambodia in particular, in the 1990s. We are agents. We support manufacturers and principals who want to develop their activities within the territory of Cambodia, similar to other countries where EUROP CONTINENTS (EC) has a presence, so that public or private institutions can have access to technical equipment with the same level of expertise, service and after sales that they would expect if they had their own offices in the territory. We are not only distributors. We represent the interest of the company within the country. We mostly focus on core businesses like health care, laboratories, and infrastructure (water supply, water treatment and water sanitation activities).

HISATOSHI "H": You now seem moving towards finance, packaging of equipment hospitals, as well as each individual machine or laboratory equipment.

T: Correct. That seems currently the general trend in the market, in more mature markets like Japan. Clients don't want to pay for the equipment anymore. They now expect package service, either on leasing terms, meaning they are paying every month, or they expect someone to pay for the equipment, share the profit on the usage of the equipment, or find some alternative wherein they can get their return on investment on the equipment. We are working with very technical equipments, quality equipments, so they expect to have a certain lifetime, but they also know well that after a few years, we will renew the technology. So, they expect, after sometime, to be able to exchange their product to move to the next generation.

W recently signed an agreement in Singapore with a Japanese investor, a pool of investment companies from Japan. I think inside you have a lot of companies like Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Bank, or Hitachi Finance, with whom we are financing specific projects in different countries. We signed the first project in Vietnam for radiotherapy center treatment of cancer and we are in discussions for Indonesia and the Philippines for the imaging system. So in that case, we invest totally in the project and we share profit that is generated.

H: Coming back to the beginning of your explanation about your company profile, actually in Asia, which countries do you have your own offices to service countries like Singapore, Bangkok, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, as well as Vietnam?

T: Right now, our Head Office is in Singapore. That is where we can get the support for the financials, operations and logistics to be able to do some grouping and clear some technical requirements for some projects like ODAs for example. Our main offices in terms of activity and operational matters are Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Vietnam, we still have operation activities, but for now, we are focusing on the financial side this project for this radiotherapy we have in Ho Chih Minh. Myanmar, for different reasons, we decided to pull over a few years ago, but it used to be an important country for us. We decided to concentrate on countries where we see more potential today, like Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines.

How did you meet each other and start business?

T: Through a gentle invitation. It's funny because we had discussions today during the JATA meeting when I was introducing myself, telling them how Mr. Shimase and myself, (STELLA CORP and EC) met.
It was 6 years ago. That time, my wife was pregnant and I met this Consultant, Hiro Nakajima, who came to the office one day and we were talking about the project for ODA at that time for immunization program. We had 2 conferences; refrigeration for the vaccines, and infection control with clean incinerators, and when he started to talk about his clean incinerators, we were very interested because we were trying to find such equipment for some project we were working on with the Cambodia government. I think Hiro introduced us at that time. We got an email from Mr. Shimase to initiate the discussion and after a few weeks, he quickly offered for us to have a look at the factory to get a proper opinion of the quality of the incinerator and all the technology that was developed behind it to reach the international and Japanese standards in terms of efficiency.

Can you tell us about the incinerators running in Cambodia?

T: There are 24, 25, 26 units. 25 are made in Japan, and 24 were made for the ODA won by Toyota Tsusho. It was a very nice project, a unique one. JICA was happy to back up this project because there was a lot of preparation, construction, site preparation, training, support, and re-training involved. We developed some user manuals/videos and graphic arts in class. We spent days discussing together about the future of incinerators, reality of Cambodia, the expectations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JICA, consultants and end users. We worked hard for months around this project. There had been some trials, improvements, and changes, all along.
After some time, they expect new things as the technology is evolving because of new experiences and possibilities, so now we want to improve the existing system, not really improving, but adapting even more to the condition of Cambodia, to have better efficiency on the usage of incinerators.

H: As to the cycle of operations, in case of firewood, operator must stay all the time during burning time. But in case of burner type, just one button and it is not necessary to attend to the operation, as it is automatically done. So what we are thinking/planning together is to change the current wood burning type to automatic burning type. Renovation.

T: Time Saving. In some sites, rather than using the incinerator maybe once a day, 3x a week, maybe 2x a day everyday. So there are some cases we could see the condition of the incinerator is good in most of the sites, whatever its usage, they are using it very regularly. They need the incinerators for infection control because in Cambodia, it is far from the standards and it is probably the least of the topics discussed inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and among donors.

H: Regarding Japanese technology transfer to Cambodia, I want to do it while you are still there, as a contribution to the country and for the benefit of the people to improve technology over there.

T: ICM is a company that started many years ago in Cambodia and they are particular in having only trained and able welders who have ISO certificates. As such , they were allowed to produce the first prototype which is working and running today in one of the hospitals in Udon, 45 minutes north of Phnom Phen. The Director is happy. The Consultant for the Ministry of Finance is aware of this unit and we have to admit that even though there are improvements to make in the manufacturing of incinerators, the result for the first system was good.

H: Yes, it was a perfect job.

Where do you see yourselves in the next 10 years? Your vision?

H: Right now, we have good cooperation based on mutual trust. We have good communication, so based on that, I want to make my dream to spread our product in developing countries to help their people solve their waste problems for their health. And you can help us and your company will be very strong as you have mentioned, in the Philippines, Indonesia, etc. I think we can continue to work well together and once we have other projects we can explore, the next generation will also be very happy to work together.

T: This ODA project for EC and for me was the first actual contact with Japan, the Japanese people and their culture six years ago. We now have more and more Japanese partners in various fields--healthcare, laboratories, water and sanitation and we signed this agreement for finance with a Japanese company 2 weeks ago. In order to absolutely compete with this move and alliance with Japanese culture and potential, we recruited Ayu san whose official title is Business Coordinator to help us increase the level of collaboration. I am encouraging Japanese and French companies to collaborate because I see a lot of possible synergies, and the spirit I think are very similar in many ways. All this is coming from the first emails when our relationship started. Maybe, next is for me to move to Tokyo or somewhere in Japan one day, who knows? But for now, I am in Cambodia, with EC. We do not know until when things will remain this way, but for now, it is business as usual for us, and our relationship is totally open for a longtime commitment. Although before that, now I am preparing to have dinner with STELLA.

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