Source of Value Creation DNA of Nippon Soda

Nippon Soda’s Unchanging DNA—
The Spirit of Good People Doing Good Work

The source of value creation at Nippon Soda can be found in the Company’s unceasing efforts in R&D, the technological capabilities that have responded to market changes in each era, and the people that have upheld these activities. Looking back, the strengths and ideas of our founding spirit have been carried forward to today and continue to flourish. In today’s era of diverse change and constant challenges, company growth is supported by our DNA—a confidence that we will choose the correct path without wavering from our convictions, and a passion for research and technology that can solve difficult problems one by one.

Origin of the Company Emblem

The Company emblem for Nippon Soda is a snow rabbit. Specifically, it is a white hare surrounded by a hexagonal snowflake. The emblem is based on the following episode. In the winter of 1920, shortly after the Company’s founding, a meeting was being held at the Nihongi Plant in Niigata Prefecture in regard to the logo to be used on product containers. Suddenly, a pure white rabbit jumped into the room, ran around, and then disappeared outside.

At that time, our Company’s main products were caustic soda and bleaching powder. In the case of these products, a higher purity results in a purer white color. Therefore, the pure white rabbit represented the high quality of our products. Furthermore, rabbits excel at running up mountains but not running down. This was a perfect symbol of Nippon Soda at that time, in terms of how we were striving to become a growth company with high-quality chemical products that are not affected by recessions. The six sides of the hexagonal snowflake represent the following ideals: honesty, industriousness, originality & ingenuity, cooperation, service, and gratitude.

This is a perfect anecdote for Nihongi City, Niigata Prefecture, which receives some of the heaviest snowfall in Japan. Furthermore, this episode is linked to the world of chemistry, where facts, chance and ideas are all linked together.

Historical Background of
Our Founding

Although favorable conditions did not exist
at the time of our founding,
we were able to overcome adversity with the spirit of
“Good people doing good work.”

Nippon Soda was founded in 1920, a period of great recession after World War I. Furthermore, many more difficulties were lying ahead. Conversely, it was also an era when Japanese industry was heading for development. The unceasing efforts for improvement, innovation, and research and development led to the development of today’s Nippon Soda Group. These efforts were supported by valued employees. The spirit of “Good people doing good work” is still alive today.

Words from our founder Tomonori Nakano

In no way does the Nihongi area present any advantages for industry in terms of transportation, terrain, or supply and demand. Furthermore, during one-third of the year, the area suffers from heavy snow that completely buries homes. Shortly after our founding, Nippon Soda faced the Great Depression after World War I. There was no conglomerate backing our company. Indeed, Nippon Soda was founded in a very disadvantageous era. Nevertheless, we were blessed with one thing—the human element. Our employees joined together and worked with great devotion. Even though I was a managing director, together with the factory manager, we would don dirty clothes and crawl under the machines. We worked both day and night. Thanks to these efforts, we were able to build outstanding products and launch them on the market. It was also fortunate that we worked in the chemical industry, which had the highest demand of any industry in Japan. It can also be said that we possessed an exceptional spirit toward business and policy toward management.

The chemical industry must constantly adapt to advances in science and evolve into more efficient methods. We have always maintained our commitment to improving and innovating our equipment and operation, and to researching and industrializing new products. In some areas, our business moved ahead of the scientific principles. Even when the existence of our company was in danger due to extreme financial difficulties, we actively encouraged these kinds of technological advancements. “Good people doing good work.” This was the greatest strength of Nippon Soda. As a result, we were able to overcome our inconvenient location, damage from snow, and industry stagnation.

The DNA of Nippon Soda

From our founding to the present, a large number of outstanding engineers have supported the growth of Nippon Soda and driven our recovery from difficult predicaments. During World War , we were placed under military supervision and forced to respond to development requests in different fields. There is an anecdote that says when the German airship Zeppelin flew to Japan, Nippon Soda was responsible for the emergency supply of depleted high-purity hydrogen. At that time, only Nippon Soda was able to supply such a large amount of high-purity hydrogen.

After the war, the Company continued to face difficulties as it was unable to settle upon its products and business fields. However, even under these circumstances, the Company was committed to launching new businesses. In 1950, we submitted Japan’s first petrochemical business plan to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). However, due to the pioneering nature of the plan, we were unable to receive financing from banks and were forced to abandon the plan. The plan was ahead of its time and was eventually recognized and highly evaluated as having played a leading and enlightening role in the petrochemical industry.

After that, Japan entered a period of high economic growth. Even though Nippon Soda’s sales grew, we continually failed to secure profits due to the interest burden associated with large capital investments. Under these circumstances, engineers focused their research and development in a new direction, namely on fine chemicals such as pesticides and polymer fields centered on urethane. We promoted a shift from quantity to quality. These efforts eventually led to the creation of high-added-value products.

The Nippon Soda Group has been willing to invest in technology even in difficult times, and our engineers have worked hard to develop new products, strengthen cost competitiveness, establish overseas production technology, and reduce our environmental burden. This spirit has been inherited as the DNA of the Group and is the driving force behind all that we have accomplished. The Nippon Soda Group will continue to “contribute to society through the power of chemistry” and realize a future of Brilliance through Chemistry based on technological capability and passion.

Passing On
the Company’s DNA Through Digital Transformations (DX)

We will strive for the accurate transfer of our accumulated technologies to the next generation.

Due to declining the birthrate and aging population, labor shortages are becoming a major social problem in Japan. At Nippon Soda, too, we were seeing an imbalance between the number of experienced employees who could guide our junior employees and the number of new employees, and transferring our technologies to next generations was becoming an issue. Some elements of field technologies can only be taught on the spot. For example, at the Chiba Plant, we provide learning opportunities during our annual maintenance, however, missing these opportunities would lead to a lack of understanding. Moreover, although senior employees could help out when junior employees came up against issues in implementing the techniques they had learned, it was not an efficient process. In response, we added videos to our procedure manuals, which previously comprised text and photos alone, enabling users to visualize on-site situations and learn through on-screen instructions. To date, we have created 70 different videos. The idea to create these videos came from a discussion among field personnel on operational improvements at a time when smartphones were introduced for company use. Although at the Chiba Plant we were already actively promoting DX, for this project, junior employees predominantly in their 20s took the lead through a collaborative project. We now have QR codes on each piece of equipment, and scanning these as and when necessary brings up videos showing procedures and key points. As the manufacturing workforce is expected to shrink, using DX to smoothly transfer technologies is essential. With this project as a springboard, we will enhance our site-led DX initiatives, actively work on further improvements, and accelerate companywide DX by deploying our successes horizontally across the organization.