On April 2nd, the Partnership’s Manufacturer’s Council paid a visit to the Mentholatum Co. for a presentation and tour of the successful products and business practices found in their Orchard Park facility. After being bombarded with stories of economic downturn and low factory output throughout our region, it was thrilling to get an up close view of Mentholatum’s recent record growth.
Mark Cieslinski, VP of Marketing and Sales, told of how a local company founded in 1889 selling soaps and skin care remedies has transformed into a global provider of non-prescription pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and health supplements. As a subsidiary of Japanese-based Rohto Pharmaceutical Co., LTD, Mentholatum has been able to harness opportunities provided by the world’s 18th largest pharmaceutical company and positioned themselves as niche providers of names we all recognize in our medicine cabinet like Oxy and Softlips.
Council members learned about the shift in culture working as a subsidiary of Rohto. When Rohto purchased Mentholatum in 1988, it presented new opportunities and began a new learning process about working within a new corporate culture in not only their business model but also within the Japanese culture. Mark stressed four important pieces of advice about the business culture in Japan: attention to detail, patience, silence (or quiet contemplation) in meetings is normal, and the importance of the team and working towards a common goal.
The Mentholatum story was inspirational to be sure, and offered some important lessons in working within the Japanese culture. Stay tuned for more opportunities from the Manufacturer’s Council to access Buffalo Niagara’s successful manufacturing companies.