In a significant milestone for Hochiki Europe, the leading provider of fire detection and emergency lighting solutions, the company has officially cut the ribbon on its brand-new £5.5 million warehouse facility, Apex House, located in Chatham, Kent. This state-of-the-art distribution centre marks a substantial investment in the company’s future and a reaffirmation of its core values and commitment to the local community.
Not only were Hochiki’s top management from Japan, Italy and the UK present, but also the MP for Gillingham and Rainham, Rehman Chishti and the Mayoress of Medway, Councillor Nina Gurung. After cutting the ribbon and having a guided tour of the facilities, they delivered heartfelt speeches on the importance of this warehouse for Hochiki’s EU and International expansion.
The company started its UK operations 30 years ago, with just six employees and a small factory in Gillingham. It now employs over 200 people.
In a herculean effort, the company took just 21 weeks from acquiring Apex House in February to its opening to be fully operational. The new warehouse is designed to streamline the company’s storage, packaging and delivery of its high-quality life-safety products. It also represents Hochiki’s commitment to supporting the community and its employees.
Hochiki’s Journey in Japan
To understand the significance of Hochiki Europe’s latest achievement, it is essential to trace its roots back to Japan, where the Hochiki Corporation was founded in 1918.
In his address at the warehouse inauguration, Hochiki’s Chairman Akio Yamagata talked about how Hochiki had been at the forefront of innovation in life safety for over a century, establishing itself as a global leader.
Throughout its history, Hochiki has consistently pushed the boundaries of technology and engineering, focusing on producing high-quality products that save lives and protect property. This commitment to innovation has allowed the company to evolve and expand its reach, eventually leading to the establishment of Hochiki Europe in the United Kingdom.
Shinsuke Kubo’s Vision
One of the driving forces behind Hochiki Europe’s success is its Managing Director, Shinsuke Kubo. With a deep appreciation for the company’s culture and values, Kubo has fostered an inclusive and supportive environment for Hochiki’s employees. He understands that the heart of any successful organisation lies in its people.
Kubo’s leadership philosophy revolves around employing local talent and providing them with ample opportunities for growth and development. By retaining dedicated and skilled employees, Hochiki Europe ensures that its workforce is well-trained and deeply connected to the company’s mission of safety and innovation. This commitment to its people is a cornerstone of Hochiki’s success and has been pivotal in establishing the company as an industry leader.
Kubo expressed his excitement about the facility’s grand opening: “The new facility will play a pivotal role in advancing life safety technologies not only here in the UK but across the whole of Hochiki Europe’s regions, thereby contributing to protecting people and property around the world. We are proud to bring together the finest minds in life safety technology under one roof, driving innovation and setting new standards for safety worldwide.”
Nathan Hudson, Hochiki Europe’s Sales and Marketing Director, elaborates on the strategic significance of the newly established warehouse distribution centre, Apex House. Hudson emphasises that this state-of-the-art facility will play a pivotal role in not only propelling Hochiki’s overseas business operations but also sustaining the continuous growth of our UK business.
“Apex House is a physical structure and symbol of Hochiki Europe’s dedication to excellence. It is equipped with the latest technologies and designed to streamline the distribution process, ensuring customers receive their orders promptly and efficiently.”
Key features of the new facility include a state-of-the-art warehouse management system (WMS), brand-new racking systems and pallet identification and tracking via QR codes and reading guns. The new three-storey space increases the company’s storage capacity from 480 to 2,450 pallets and has also more than doubled the picking and packing capability to seven items a minute. With this new warehousing infrastructure, the company can produce and supply life safety devices and systems more promptly and efficiently.
The facility also includes collaborative spaces designed to foster innovation and encourage partnerships with industry stakeholders. The company has a Continuous Improvement initiative, where employees are encouraged to suggest ways to optimise their operations, services or processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements. This year, one employee alone managed to save the company £17K a year just by suggesting they change plastic packaging for paper, making the packaging also more eco-friendly.
To drive advancements in life safety technology, Hochiki Europe aims to create a collaborative ecosystem that will result in competitive advantages.
With the strategic expansion of Apex House, Hochiki Europe is well-positioned to lead the way in the fire detection and emergency lighting solutions industry. As Hudson aptly puts it, this facility will propel the company’s overseas business forward, reinforcing its commitment to safety and unwavering dedication to providing top-quality products and services to its customers. As Hochiki Europe’s journey continues, it is clear that the company’s core values and commitment to excellence remain stronger than ever.
Curious fact: How are Hochiki, Gillingham and explorer William Adams linked?
The connection between Hochiki, Gillingham, and the renowned explorer William Adams is an intriguing aspect of the company’s history. While it may not be immediately apparent, these three elements form an exciting narrative highlighting Hochiki’s deep-rooted ties to the local community and Japanese heritage.
Hochiki Europe, the European subsidiary of the Hochiki Corporation, is based in Gillingham, Kent, UK. The choice of Gillingham as a location for their operations is significant, as it places the company in proximity to the historical connection between the UK and Japan, embodied by William Adams.
William Adams, also known as Miura Anjin in Japan, was a 17th-century English navigator and sailor. He is perhaps best known for being the first Englishman to reach Japan and for his pivotal role in Japanese history. In 1600, Adams and his crew arrived on the shores of Japan when their ship, the Liefde, was shipwrecked. Adams and his knowledge of shipbuilding and navigation became highly valued by the ruling Tokugawa shogunate. He played a crucial role in developing Japan’s maritime capabilities and diplomatic relations with foreign powers. Adams’ legacy as a trusted foreign advisor in Japan is still celebrated today.
Hochiki is 105 years old and has deep ties to its Japanese roots. The company’s heritage is steeped in Japanese craftsmanship and innovation. Over the years, Hochiki has become a global leader in fire detection and emergency lighting solutions, applying its expertise to enhance safety worldwide. The company’s presence in Gillingham, not far from the historical connection of William Adams, serves as a symbolic bridge between its Japanese origins and its commitment to serving the UK and European markets.
The connection between Hochiki, Gillingham, and William Adams is a testament to the company’s dedication to its local community and a reminder of the historical ties between Japan and the UK.
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