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No. 363, December 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


During the mid-1980s, HOSOKAWA MICRON CORP.'s New York City subsidiary used acquisitions to build what it calls product recovery products — industrial filter media, filter bags and cloths, for example — into one of its four major businesses. However, those operations, which span North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa, have become a drag on profits. To sharpen its focus on its other activities, particularly powder and particle processing equipment, HOSOKAWA MICRON INTERNATIONAL, INC. has agreed to sell its global product recovery product line to BEACON INDUSTRIAL GROUP LLC of Charlotte, North Carolina for an undisclosed price. The transaction, which is expected to close in January 2000, covers products and services marketed under the MikroPul, Menardi-Criswell, Filtex and Filter Media brand names.

Although operations began only about a year ago, an expansion is underway at bellows manufacturer NABELL CORP.'s plant in New London, North Carolina. A cutting and sewing line has been set up, and a welding machine is scheduled for installation in advance of the start of production of advanced folding bellows. The Nabell subsidiary already has an order for AF bellows from the U.S. affiliate of a Japanese linear motion guide maker. It also has had feelers from a number of semiconductor and medical equipment makers. Those inquiries have convinced Nabell that its U.S. sales could reach $1.3 million in 2000.

Production of KUBOTA CORP.'s new BX-Series of subcompact tractors has started at the company's 11-year-old plant in Gainesville, Georgia. The two models in the line — the BX 1800, which features an 18-horse-power version of Kubota's three-cylinder, liquid-cooled E-TVCS diesel engine, and the 22-hp BX 2200 — were designed specifically for the American and European markets. They are targeted at commercial operations that require more than a lawn and garden tractor but something smaller and more efficient than the company's mainstream compact tractors. Both are equipped with four-wheel drive and a heavy-duty, two-speed hydrostatic transmission. The BX 1800 is priced at $11,000, and the BX 2200 lists at $11,500. KUBOTA MANUFACTURING OF AMERICA CORP. expects to produce 4,000 BX-Series tractors for the U.S. market in 2000 and 1,000 for European sale.

KOMATSU UTILITY CORP. hopes to ride the strong demand in the United States for compact excavators and sell 2,000 units in 2001 versus 500 or so in 1998. Key to the Vernon Hills, Illinois company's ambitious goal are three models in KOMATSU LTD.'s new MRx compact excavator family. These products, which have lifting capacities of 740 pounds (the 4,829-lb. PC20MRx), 925 pounds (the 7,056-lb. PC30MRx) and 1,145 pounds (the 9,900-lb. PC40MRx), can work in tight areas without sacrificing power or performance thanks to their small tail swing radius. The MRx compact excavators also feature the HydrauMind hydraulic control system found in Komatsu's full-size excavators as well as proportional pressure-controlled joysticks and swing booms. Of course, Komatsu is not alone in hoping to boost sales of compact excavators. YANMAR DIESEL ENGINE CO., LTD.'s Buffalo Grove, Illinois subsidiary expects to double sales in FY 2000 from the 500 units projected to be sold in FY 1999. KOBE STEEL, LTD.'s Stafford, Texas construction machinery operation also is eyeing a 100 percent jump in compact excavator sales. However, both of these competitors plan to achieve their targets with their existing product lines.

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