A virtuous cycle was generated as our company did not say no to any orders from clients, which increased the number of business inquires we received and then raised the number of employees at our company, with sales growing in a gradual but steady manner. Although there were only a small number of business opportunities socially at that moment, about 4 years after the inauguration, we came to understand gradually from experience that “there was a market for quantity surveying services.”
The economy, however, kept sluggish, and the market did not recover up any further. Our company would never overcome financial difficulties if we only waited until the external business environment turned healthy. Furthermore, the job of quantity surveying is extremely unglamorous and opportunities for business expansion are limited. Most importantly, business strategies should not be gambling. Therefore, I got determined to create a sound and recession-resistant company so that we would never fail to grasp business chances. That is improvement to the internal environment.Our company set up the following 3 objectives for achieving the aforementioned:
① Enhance the capabilities of dealing with jobs, and receive orders for landmark work projects;
② Establish a business environment that encourages new graduates to join SANTEC; and
③ Develop a financial structure that does not turn employees adrift in the streets for at least 6 months.
Aiming to realize these objectives, all of the employees at my company united and made efforts in earnest.
In the fifth year of the inauguration, which is three years after we first moved to a larger office, we received an order that allowed our company to move onto the next level. The order was placed in a bundled manner for calculating subsidies for a redevelopment project. The project itself may have been in response to the demand of the times that was to reconstruct the economic foundation of Japan by leverage from private capital. I believe, however, that receipt of the order is the fruit of our capabilities of handling jobs, which we had enhanced while engaging, even partly, in redevelopment projects even when our company was a greenhorn in business, and our persistent efforts through cooperation with clients. Operations related to redevelopment projects have become one of our specializations now, but at that time, all the employees at SANTEC, including me, studied very hard about them. The capabilities and efforts enabled SANTEC to be involved in myriad projects of landmark works in Japan, including Roppongi Hills. I think that, from that time forward, I started to break free gradually from the nightmare about failure to receive orders and earn profits. Redevelopment projects have grown as the major business domain of SANTEC M&E Q.S. CORPORATION that accounts for one third of our total sales.
Backed up by a steady gradual increase in revenue, we moved into a larger office again. At the same time, our company strived to negotiate with higher educational institutions, such as universities, over recruitment of new graduates; however, there were few institutions that incorporated quantity surveying into their curricula. After years of effort to make teachers at architecture-related faculties aware of the quantity surveying market and understand our business, we, for the first time in 10 years in business, succeeded in gratifying our heart’s desire of recruiting new graduates. This raised the number of employees at SANTEC to 14.
At around the time when we increased employees, the scale of the quantity surveying business began to become larger. In addition to redevelopment projects, the construction scale started getting bigger through the approaches to rationalization, such as constructing a building by merging multiple lands that are adjacent to each other. This change happened when the operating system on which our business was based shifted to Windows XP, and the processing capacities of general-purpose estimation software considerably improved. Such general-purpose software, however, was designed for construction contractors, which means that SANTEC could use general-purpose software only for about 40% of our business. In an attempt to improve the operational efficiency of the remaining 60% and the operability of 40% covered by general-purpose software, we negotiated with general-purpose software development companies and other software development companies, and embarked on developing our own unique estimation software. SANTEC’s 20th anniversary was only 2 years ahead, and we made a considerable decision to launch a big project of establishing a mission-critical system that can support our company for the next 10 years.
In 2012, SANTEC M&E Q.S. CORPORATION, as an organization employing 22 workers, marked the 20th anniversary of inauguration. Of course, I felt so accomplished, but at the same time, to tell the truth, I braced myself up for the tremendous responsibility for supporting the employees at SANTEC and their families. We have regarded the year of 2012 to be the “first year of mechanical and electrical quantity surveying” when a new era of facility quantity surveying began. It is certain that we successfully increased sales every time we moved to a new office and enriched our business resources as demonstrated by our own unique system partially entering an operation stage; however, any of them should not be taken for granted. We have decided to dispel such overfamiliarity and overreliance and recall our original aim set at the time of inauguration, in order to establish our history for the coming 10 years.
I feel that needs for mechanical and electrical quantity surveying will become greater and greater. In fact, SANTEC M&E Q.S. CORPORATION occasionally receives business inquires for our products from those working in other professional industries than the construction industry, beyond the existing frame of estimation for facility installation works. It was inconceivable for me, when I founded SANTEC, that courts would use my company’s product for dispute resolution. The time to discover potential needs that even candidate clients were not aware of had ripened.
Since the inauguration, we have consistently maintained the attitude that every one of the employees conducts sales activities for superior jobs without setting up any department devoted specifically to sales in our organizational structure. This had led to next business inquiries. It is extremely crucial, however, to make modifications to the organizational structure according to changes in needs of the times and clients in order to continue business activities. We established a sales department so that we would not miss any opportunity. After that, as a forerunner that paves the way for becoming a consultant, which has been my dream since I founded SANTEC, we set up a cost consultant office in 2016.
In 2017, thanks to the support from clients, SANTEC marked the 25th anniversary. Looking retrospectively, sales shrank once due to the economic downturn in 2008, but except for that, we have steadily achieved gradual increases to date since the inauguration. Furthermore, amid the briskness in the construction industry due to special orders for Olympics-related projects, we succeeded in fulfilling the objective of improving our financial standing.
Special economic factors are deeply involved with achieving all of the objectives mentioned above. It is no wonder, because both economic chances and risks exist in the external environment surrounding companies; however, if one fails to become aware of a chance, there can be no chance, and one cannot take the advantage of the chance just by waiting. On the other hand, risks that adversely affect particularly the financial industry spread to other industries sooner or later and it is inevitable to be influenced by such unwelcome factors. I believe that, even though the progress was slow and steady, SANTEC’s success in making the aforementioned objectives bear fruit is attributed solely to our thorough preparations to grasp chances, the internal environment that mitigate risks, employees who have trusted and followed the company’s decisions, and their families who have supported them behind their back.
At the juncture that marked the 25th anniversary, we set a new objective of “becoming the top mechanical and electrical quantity surveying company in Japan” for continuing satisfactory business activities from there on. In order to fulfill the goal, we will move ahead with streamlining of operations while cherishing the relationships with existing clients; meanwhile, we will endeavor to enrich our product lineup for facility quantity surveying by keeping the effort to tap into potential needs in mind. It may require years of small efforts, but I am certain that SANTEC is taking a right path to becoming a cost consultant firm that I have been aiming.