Furusato Mokuzai Logistics Iwate, Japan
“Our priority is to realise a stable supply for our customers. Hiab equipment enables us to deliver our transport services efficiently and safely at a high speed with good accuracy. We have had very little malfunction. The few times we have had problems Hiab has provided speedy service and delivery of spare parts, resulting in practically no interruption to our operation.”
- Tadashi Hatakeyama
Beautifully painted at the back of a brand new Japanese timber truck is an image of Mount Fuji, complete with seven happy gods, cherry blossom trees, and two eagles riding the winds. It is an image of happiness, prosperity and all things good, but it is also a tribute to a family. The truck belongs to Mr Tadashi Hatakeyama, the founder and owner of Furusato Mokuzai Logistics, and it carries a LOGLIFT 118S HiVision crane. It is his latest investment.
Mr Hatakeyama comes from a family with long forestry traditions. He himself has been involved in forestry and timber transport business for a total of 37 years, and as the eldest son he was expected to take over the forestry business. But Mr Hatakeyama wanted to follow another path. With a strong mind and a pioneering spirit, he and his wife Mie diverted from the family expectations and while his brother took over the forest, Mr and Mrs Hatakeyama started a transport business, Furusato Mokuzai Logistics.
The company was founded just after the tsunami disaster of 2011. Japan had succumbed to devastation and timber transport companies in the Iwate prefecture were affected. Some perished. The demand for timber logistics was big and Mr and Mrs Hakakiyama seized their chance and started out with two secondhand trucks. One was equipped with a LOGLIFT 70Z, and the other with a HIAB 91Z. In the ensuing seven years, the company has grown into a sizeable operation with an impressive fleet of 24 trucks.
“Every year since the start we have bought three to five trucks for the business. Today we are one of the biggest timber logistics companies in the Tohoku Region (the north-eastern provinces in Japan),” Mr Hatakeyama says.
The business is about transporting timber and wood chips. Some of its trucks are equipped only with a MULTILIFT, and others with both a LOGLIFT and a MULTILIFT. The LOGLIFT and MULTILIFT combination was developed for maximum utility of the fleet. Having transported and delivered wood chips, they pick up logs on the return trip.
The customers vary. Furusato Mokuzai Logistics mainly transports for governmentowned and prefectural forests, but also serves private forest owners. Regardless of whether the customer is the government or a private forest, Furusato Mokuzai Logistics is all about quality in delivery.
“Our priority is to realise a stable supply for our customers,” Mr Hatakeyama says. “We have 24 trucks in operation every day, which enables us to provide prompt service, leading to satisfied customers. So to us the most important is to safely deliver timber as efficiently as possible.” This is one reason why he chose to deploy Hiab equipment. “Hiab equipment enables us to deliver our transport services efficiently and safely at a high speed with good accuracy,” Mr Hatakeyama says. “We have had very little malfunction. The few times we have had problems Hiab has provided speedy service and delivery of spare parts, resulting in practically no interruption to our operation.”
The latest investment is a new truck equipped with a LOGLIFT 118S HiVision crane. “I knew nothing about the HiVision before I saw it for the first time at the forestry exhibition in Japan in 2016,” Mr Hatakeyama says. “But after having seen it, it really got me thinking.” He saw new solutions to everyday problems his operators faced, in particular three areas of concern: safety, comfort and working conditions. In the summer it can be uncomfortable working in the top seat of the crane due to the heat (and bees and mosquitos). In the winter, by contrast, it is often cold and potentially dangerous as the operator is quite exposed. Mr Hatakeyama also realised this was an opportunity to attract a new generation of employees to his business. So arriving at the decision to buy a HiVision crane was as much about the company’s desire to be innovative as the solution to the safety, comfort and work condition related issues.
Now he sees opportunities to pioneer other areas of the timber transport industry. His daughter Ms. Sakura Hatakeyama wants to be the first female timber truck operator in the Iwate prefecture operating the HiVisionTM truck. “We would like to get even more women to work within the industry, and as we see it HiVisionTM opens up the opportunity for more women to work as timber truck drivers,” she explains. They also see that the company’s investment strategy of exchanging the trucks every three and half years will contribute to making the HiVisionTM available to more people in the region. Companies that could not afford a new HiVisionTM will be able to purchase a three and half year old truck in due time. Thus the Hatakeyama’s indirectly help others to improve the safety, comfort and working conditions for crane operators throughout the industry.
One benefit of being a front runner and thought leader in the market is that the company has no trouble recruiting new employees, which is generally considered difficult within the timber transport sector. “We don’t experience difficulties in hiring new employees,” Mr Hatakeyama says. “One reason for this is that we make sure we have new and modern trucks and that we are willing to invest in new solutions. Building our trucks with equipment from Hiab is highly valued among operators due to their quality and comfort.”
With a fleet of 24 trucks Mr Hatakeyama is satisfied with the the dynamically expanding business. “I would like to say that Hiab equipment works very well and that Cargotec Japan is the best partner for us,” he says. “They are helpful and contribute positively to how we perform. I want to develop our business, and in the future buy more Hiab equipment and invest in another HiVision.”
The crane model Tadashi Hatakeyama invested in is LOGLIFT 118S HiVision.