This week, we had the honor to accept an invitation to visit the manufacturing plant for our of our clients – SOTO Outdoors. This company makes propane and kerosene powered industrial, gardening, and camping equipment. SOTO USA focuses primarily on the distribution of portable stoves, lanterns, and camping accessories across the country.

My wife and I took two weeks during the holiday break to visit SOTO and many other places in Japan. The business culture here is incredible and robust, to say the least. I remember during my International Business classes at Oregon State University doing a case-study on the differences in business practices between the US and Japan, and seeing things first hand was so neat. The hospitality shown to us in the entire country, and in particular by our client was outstanding. Anytime I needed help, I was able to use my years’ worth of Japanese lessons to ask for directions, etc. Everything here is orderly, clean, and in place. It makes an ideal place for a strong economy and business environment.

At first, it was a bit uncomfortable taking crowded trains that were virtually silent, walking into a room of workers and having everyone bow to me, and being extremely formal with giving and receiving business cards. But now, I understand this was all out of honor and respect for one another, and to me.

SOTO is a family-owned business, operated by two sons of the founder who pivoted the company a few times to get to where they are now. They sell their products all over the world with heavy influences in the Japanese Domestic Market, the USA and Germany. Their roots in family business resonate greatly with me, as my family also has our own family business. We were able to share many of the same stories about the pros and cons about keeping it “in the family” and the challenges and successes that can come from it. We also had a tour of their machinery, quality control, and local distribution center.

One of the best parts of business is getting to travel and if you ever are in the position to go international for your work, GO. You will never regret it. It feels empowering to be a part of helping a business succeed, either domestically or abroad. And love it or not, if you are able to read this blog, your English skills are strong enough to allow you to do business essentially anywhere in the world. This is a gift. Use this to expand your horizons, learn a new language, and engage with culture.

I am very grateful for the networking opportunities that allowed me to become a part of the SOTO family, and to honor them with a new webpage and assist with their future digital marketing needs. Checkout their new website which we launched in 2018: sotooutdoors.com.