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Winning a cut of the gaming card industry in Japan

Ten years ago the mayor of Tokyo had big plans for his city: he wanted to build a casino. When his idea found little support among the general public, the plan came to nothing, but members of the paper and printing industry pricked up their ears.

At Drupa, a paper and printing trade fair held in Dusseldorf, Germany, Rollem CEO Larry Corwin discussed an agency agreement with Katsuji Kasagi, Head of DKSH’s Technology Printing Machinery (TEC GAP) department in Japan. Larry Corwin figured that a casino would necessitate the increased production of playing cards, and along with this the machinery needed to produce them. Since his company is the top card machine manufacturer worldwide, Rollem was well-placed to supply such equipment to Japanese playing card producers. Unfortunately, although Rollem and DKSH signed an agency agreement, the casino was not built and Rollem’s business failed to take off in Japan.

A few years later, with sports card mania sweeping from America to Japan, a new opportunity arose in the form of character cards. After more than a year of presentations, talks and discussions with two famous Japanese toy and game manufacturers, DKSH’s Satoshi Fukanuma, who is responsible for Rollem, closed lucrative deals with both companies, selling them complete card manufacturing systems. Because of Japan’s strict quality controls, the machines had to be custom-made, using die cutting parts from a German manufacturer to satisfy the requirements.

The sale of these two machines soon turned into real success stories, amounting to 5% of TEC Japan’s total Net Sales in 2009 alone. The Printing Machinery department was also awarded the DKSH Japan Grand Prix, an award which DKSH bestows on the most successful department each year.

Market Expansion Services at work
Today, most of Japan’s character cards are produced using Rollem machinery, and future business looks very promising, with good prospects for moving into other fields such as business card production. As a result, it looks a sure bet that DKSH and Rollem will continue to expand our cut of the Japanese card industry.