“In Germany, especially during the winter, there was no sunshine,” he said. Nishizawa was named Canon Virginia’s new leader this month after serving for a few months as executive vice president. “Here, it’s not so cold.”
Nishizawa, 55, replaces Yusaka Azuma, who has retired. Married with two children, Nishizawa now lives in Newport News.
Canon Virginia, which has been in Newport News for 27 years, is undergoing a renaissance, as it’s expanded its employment to over 2,000 employees, after dipping to 1,300 employees in 2006. The company manufactures cartridges for laser printers in its 700,000 square-foot automated center that was built in 2009, repairs cameras and does custom manufacturing.
Nishizawa spoke at times through a translator, but also answered some questions in English.
Where do you see Canon Virginia in five years? What goals do you have for the company?
We want to use our manufacturing expertise to have custom-made products. Our factories are going to have a closer relationship with our sales operations. We additionally have to expand our environmental business. We should be accountable to the environment. (Canon’s Gloucester plant recycles the laser printer cartridges, but Nishizawa believes the company can further its commitment to “green” business practices.) We need to develop more harmony with the community, closer relations with the community.
How has the production and quality of laser printers changed compared to 20 years ago?
They have improved dramatically. They are smaller and faster and the prices are lower. Now that we have an automated production system, we have fewer errors and we can produce them faster. This was a very big change for us.
How is the new automated laser cartridge facility performing? Do you anticipate any upgrades to the plant?
Late last year, our factory achieved the same level of quality as our factories in Japan. This is a significant achievement to realize this goal so quickly. It is beyond expectations. (Ron Briggs, Canon Virginia vice president, said the automated laser cartridge plant is about half full. He said Canon Virginia expects to continue to expand the production lines inside the plant until it is full.)
Why is the camera repair business located in Newport News versus overseas? Do you envision camera repair staying here?
It is normal to have it here, but we used to contract the repair work to a third party. We can provide good quality and good lead time to customers by having (camera repair) in-house. Perhaps one day we will build a camera repair facility in the West, to serve our customers better there.
Do you believe the U.S. economy is emerging from the recession and do you anticipate growth for Canon products in the upcoming years?
I’m looking forward to the recovery. Please. Once the economy gets better, more people can afford our products, like cameras. Just because there’s economic gains doesn’t mean we’re going to expand dramatically, especially for mature markets like copiers and printers. The market changes dramatically and frequently, which makes it hard to make plans.