Local leaders headed to Japan

Five local leaders are heading to Japan for a week to meet with seven Japanese businesses with the goal of building relations with companies that have invested in Johnson County.

The Johnson County Development Corp. is leading the trip to meet with representatives of some of the 14 Japanese businesses that have operations in Johnson County.

The businesses employ nearly 1,900 people in Johnson County out of a workforce of 77,000, so it is important to maintain and expand relationships with them, Johnson County Development Corp. President Cheryl Morphew said.

In the Japanese culture, relationships are a critical part of how they do business, which is why making these trips is important, she said.

Morphew will be joined by Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers; Julia Saltsgaver, executive director of Quality Connection, an Indiana labor management partnership; Pat Sherman, partner of Sherman and Armbruster and Johnson County Development Corp. chairman; and Chris King, executive vice president of Runnebohn Construction and Johnson County Development Corp. board member.

The city of Greenwood is funding Myer’s portion of the trip, with about $10,000 set aside in the 2016 budget, he said.

The Johnson County Development Corp., which gets its funding from local business and governments, has $15,000 set aside for the trip, Morphew said. This will be the third trip to Japan that Morphew has taken and the fifth organized by the Johnson County Development Corp.

The group will leave Sept. 24 and return Sept. 30.

“We have to strategize about who we can see in the five-day period,” Morphew said.

The goal is to meet with businesses that have been growing locally over the past few years, she said.

The trip is important because of the impact the business have on the community, Myers said.

“They are a big part of the economy,” he said.

“We want to thank them for the business they are doing here and try to bring more business back.”

The group will stay in Tokyo and visit Toyama and Nagoya via bullet train.

They took part in a training session last week to become familiar with Japanese culture, customs and protocol.

“While we are there, we want to make sure we are gracious guests and we are respectful of the culture,” Morphew said.

Some of the advice includes being sure to bring socks when going out to eat. Restaurants may ask patrons to remove their shoes and going barefoot isn’t acceptable, Morphew said.

When eating, they’ll need to remember to never leave their chopsticks sticking in a bowl, she said. It’s preferred to lay them next to it instead.

They learned traditional ways to address people, as well as several Japanese words and phrases, Myers said.

Another important part of Japanese culture is gift-giving, and members of the group are bringing locally-made gifts to exchange, including locally-made art. Myers will bring hand-blown glass eggs made by Greenwood resident Greg Thompson of GRT Glass Designs.

This will be his first trip to Japan. Myers said he’s been wanting to go for a while.

At a glance

Local business leaders will meet with corporate representatives of seven Japanese businesses which have operations in Johnson County.

  • KYB
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
  • Mitsubishi Turbo Engine America
  • Nachi
  • NSK
  • Takenaka Corporation
  • Toyota Tsusho
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.