Service key to Shimadzu expansion

August 12, 1992

New Shimadzu Medical Systems general manager Takeshi Nakanishibelieves better service is essential if the Japanese manufacturinggiant is to expand its toehold in the U.S. MRI market. Shimadzu has placed only 12 systems since entering the U.S.market in

New Shimadzu Medical Systems general manager Takeshi Nakanishibelieves better service is essential if the Japanese manufacturinggiant is to expand its toehold in the U.S. MRI market.

Shimadzu has placed only 12 systems since entering the U.S.market in the late 1980s. Half the systems have been installedsince the company introduced its 1-tesla SMT 100X at the 1991Radiological Society of North America meeting.

The company's U.S. sales performance falls near the bottomof the list of 15 firms competing here. Shimadzu ranks fourthin MRI sales in Japan.

The Japanese company aspires to become a major player in allimaging modalities in the U.S. To reach that goal, company officialsadmit they first have to make their MRI product line fly.

"As we are still very small in the U.S., the servicing(after a sale) is very important," Nakanishi said.

As the company develops its service network, SMS will focuson increasing sales of its "bread and butter" systems,such as conventional x-ray equipment, through its dealer/ distributornetwork. Company estimates put Shimadzu's U.S. x-ray market shareat between 4% and 5%.

Nakanishi replaced Toshiaki Udagawa as general manager in June.Udagawa was promoted to general manager of corporate internationaloperations at parent Shimadzu Corp. in Japan.

Nakanishi is a 30-year Shimadzu veteran, with extensive experienceas an engineer in the R&D department. Previous SMS generalmanagers had come directly from sales. Nakanishi's technical backgroundwill give him an advantage in developing products for the U.S.market, he said.

"The Japanese side has a lot of equipment, but it's onlysuitable for the Japanese market," he said, "Since I'mcoming from the R&D department, I can request detailed specificationsnecessary for the American market direct from Japan."

SMS sells its systems through a North American dealer/distributornetwork composed of 50 dealerships and three distributors, Nakanishisaid. Shimadzu directly supervises dealers in the Midwest andWestern regions.

Although some industry analysts cite Shimadzu's reliance onthe dealer/distributor network for its slow start in MRI, SMSwill stay with the network, at least for the time being.

"We want to increase our national service support throughthe distributors so that customer satisfaction will be great,"Nakanishi said. "We then would like to gradually expand ourMRI business."

The joint U.S./Japanese ultrasound R&D program that thecompany launched in January, 1991 (SCAN 2/13/91), is progressing,and the company hopes to display its first product, a color Dopplersystem, at this year's RSNA exhibit, Nakanishi said.

Shimadzu also plans to introduce a mobile x-ray product onAugust 17. The specifications were designed to compete with similarunits from Philips and Siemens, said Harry De Mint, director ofsales and marketing.

Changes have also been made at Shimadzu Corp.:

  • Dr. Minoru Nishihachijo, formerly president, is nowchairman of the board;

  • Kikuo Fujiwara, formerly vice president, is now president;and

  • Sadao Arai, formerly general manager/internationalmarketing, is managing director of the board and supervisor ofcorporate international operations, general planning and financing.