I have spent 15 years in Japan, getting a university education, and then learning, planning and growing the Hertz operations here. While my time spent in Japan during my formal schooling years provided me with many of the linguistic and cultural tools I would need to be a successful businessman in the Japanese marketplace, I could not have navigated many of the pitfalls of managing a company in Japan without the depth of experience Tom Nevins brings to the table.
My “Nevins education” began with his first two books, Labor Pains and The Gaijin Boss and Taking Charge in Japan, which were introduced to me by my predecessor in our Tokyo office. While the insights Tom provides in these two books were priceless (and, may I add, still very much applicable even today), it was not until I had the opportunity to directly utilize the services of Tom and his TMT staff in 1995, that I realized how much Tom’s personal knowledge and skills, as well as those of his staff, bring to the value equation.
Faced with the closure of our rental operations in Japan under a joint venture with our Japanese partner, Hertz needed assistance in extracting our lucrative and vital overseas sales, marketing, and reservation operations, and personnel from the overall JV, and setting up shop as a wholly-owned Hertz subsidiary in Japan. This entailed establishing a new company, implementing new working rules and regulations, and hiring key managerial positions for the new company. The most daunting of these was the problem we faced with a set of working rules and regulations under the JV that must have been developed by our JV partner over 20 years before. They were outdated and inflexible, and it was not going to be easy to get our employees to agree on significant changes.
We signed up for TMT’s “strategic partnering” consulting service, and through the help of Tom’s language ability, bi-cultural people skills, deep factual knowledge and experience – and a great sense of humor – we were able to implement a customized version of the TMT Rules of Employment and Salary System, with no resistance from our current employees, within six months. Running parallel to this, TMT’s Executive Search team completed their assignment, and had all key new hires in place on time.
It is also important to note that Tom does not just throw you a bunch of advice and then leave you to figure it out for yourself. Within months of having implemented the TMT systems, they were tested by a very poor performing employee, backed by a big union lawyer. Had I followed my first instincts, we could have been in court for years. However, one call to Tom, followed by one meeting between Tom and the employee, and the matter was settled without Hertz having to pay any special compensation to the former employee. Without Tom, that employee might still be on the payroll, or would have cost Hertz a lot more money in severance pay. I was already a believer in Tom, but this experience convinced all my managers as well.
Even for long timers like me, who speak and read Japanese fluently, it is often invaluable to be able to turn to a “neutral” entity like Tom in dealing with personnel issues in Japan. For the cost of a few million yen, Hertz received five years of TMT’s Strategic Partnering support, which I estimate has already paid for itself many times over.
No matter what business you are in, it gives you peace of mind to know that Tom is standing in your corner, to give effective advice and reassurance in all aspects of people management in Japan.
Representative Director, Japan
Hertz Asia Pacffic (Japan) Ltd.