The other day I had the pleasure of visiting Daito Kentaku as a part of my pre-Japan Home Show activities. It is reported that Daito is the largest single customer of SPF and as a result many people fret over any rumours of Daito switching to domestic wood or steel construction. While rumours are just rumours, the potential loss of this SPF business needs to be taken seriously.
This point was reinforced to me when I arrived at the office and saw the company slogan reading "Pursuing the Effective Use of Land." Their business is managing investment real estate, not building 2×4 apartments. Therefore, if steel were to offer them better returns, why wouldn't they move away from 2×4 construction. For that matter, how would that be any different for Mitsui Home with respect to switching to domestic lumber?
The point is that our industry has to maintain its competetive position in Japan. This means meeting the unique needs of this marketplace. Many Japanese buyers worry that Canadians are forgetting this as they chase big dreams in China. With Minister of Forests, Pat Bell, coming for the Japan Home Show next month, we can hopefully reinforce the fact that Japan is still Canada's most important offshore market and as such we take Japan's needs seriously. If we don't make serious efforts in this area, the domestic wood guys will happily take our place.