Interview With Masayuki (Yuki) Murata, Former President And Managing Director (2004–2012)

Replacing Mr Shinichi (Shin) Hoshino who held the position for four years, Mr Masayuki Murata officially took over the role of President and Managing Director of IAL on April 1 2004.

Previous postings with Isuzu included to the Executive Support Office to assist senior management in developing strategic business alliances within Japan.

During this time Mr Murata worked closely with Isuzu Motors Limited President and Representative Director, Mr Yoshinori Ida.

Mr Murata’s time in Australia was highly successful and highlighted by his tough negotiation with Isuzu Motors in Japan, where he doggedly fought for enhanced product for a diverse Australian market thirsty for fit-for-purpose and cost-effective capital equipment.

Your thoughts on three decades of market leadership in Australia?

Let me say, first and foremost, that this is certainly no mean feat and I genuinely congratulate my former colleagues at Isuzu Australia Limited on their epoch-making success. I know what sort of endeavour it entails to keep the market leadership position for such a long time, so I praise them and take great pride in the team I once worked with.

How did you find the experience of being the key liaison point between the manufacturer and local distributor?

I always interpreted the job of a liaison as one of working primarily to enhance the sales and profit of the local operation, which will then contribute to the parent company on the consolidated basis. Precisely for that reason I would often get tough with the parent company in requesting changes and improvements.

Following your tenure at Isuzu Australia Limited, you were posted to the European operations. How did this compare?

I transferred to Europe in 2012 based in Belgium, assigned to look after all the commercial vehicle distribution in Europe at large. This was a hard and complicated job to say the least.  Unlike Australia, what I got confronted with was, so to speak, having to ‘sell Japanese wine in France’, which obviously wasn’t easy!

How was IAL regarded within the Isuzu Motors Limited world?

Australia was (and still is) a market with a huge potential for Isuzu so I always believed we could significantly expand our business going forward and enhance our presence further. As a result, IAL eventually ended up among the most respected and most envied subsidiaries in the world. IAL may have kicked-off as a relatively low-profile organisation but it steadily kept growing into a robust and fully-fledged operation. As a matter of fact, in my time at IAL, I don’t know how many delegates we received altogether from our fellow distributors worldwide, even including a group of Japanese dealers who wanted to learn from us.

How does the distributor/dealer relationship in Australia differ from other regions you have had experience working in?

In this regard, I can only draw a comparison between Australia and Europe, and I believe the distributor/dealer relationship can be correlative to the brand equity in each market. Isuzu is the market leader in Australia so both the distributor and its dealers have a high sense of brand ownership and recognise the social and industrial responsibility they ought to take on.

What do you see as future challenges and opportunities for commercial vehicle manufacturers and distributors?

Unless the world’s economy ceases to exist, there will always be a need for CVs. But the product will need to keep abreast of the global evolution, meaning more sophisticated specifications to comply with future regulations, requiring more resources and higher cost. I personally believe that, having survived the critical phase in the early 2000s and the subsequent GFC, IAL has started anew with its financial health restored, and is equipped with the full capability to keep abreast of any future developments or changes. I trust we will prove to be the winner for sure.

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