I call him "Kame".
Sidekick, the best buddy, fellow, partner. What would be best expression abut him for me ?
We met for the first time at the art school.
The first conversation among us was "There is no pretty girl in this class."
After graduated from the school, I proceed training as craftsman of furniture and he proceeded on metal-craving.
We continued to keep in touch each others.
When I consider to become independent, I asked him to join.
It was an offer to share a factory keeping the status of the owner of small business each other.
Given no experiences to run business, we prepared the business plan watching and imitating samples, which does not seem to make valuable when reviewing from now.
It was fun to feel we proceeded our own lives.
Owning independent small business was never easy at all.
JPY3,000,000, as the initial invested amount of money we put together, run out in short period of time.
Kamei got married with her girl friend pregnant and commutate from Yokohama.
I got second child.
It was the extreme case of the no plan.
There was no order.
We discounted prices and got jobs.
However, we committed to decline subcontracts.
We were not able to make money how much work we had done.
However, we could not complete tasks without working whole through the night.
I had no money to buy gasoline in order to commute to the factory.
I slept on the dirty platform of one-box car presented by someone with blanket for packing our products covered in dust.
I remember that we shared a bowl of ramen noodle after spending significantly long time before decide whether eat or not.
It was the best ramen noodle in our life even now so that we are able to recall it clearly as if it has penetrated into each cell of our body.
Kamei had gotten suffering from health problems after 6 months since we had established the factory.
About one year later after the establishing the factory, he had a traffic accident during his drive from Yokohama.
He fell a sleep at the wheel.
On the road to the hospital, I saw his car completely crashed as if a piece of paper crumple into a ball.
He did not have big damages, however, he heart was broken off.
"I cannot continue the factory."
It is too selfish to walk away from the contract sharing the factory.
How is your heart broken off ?
We got a fight.
I kicked him off from the top of the stair in the Tachikawa station, which would have 30 steps.
A crowded with people emerged.
Then, we have dissolved.
I continued KOMA by myself.
Economically, it became more difficult given my sole obligation to the rent, utility costs.
I thought I would be almost done for.
I would avoid further descriptions given detailed described before, thanks to helps from many people, KOMA has revived from the situation something like hanging by a thread.
Since then, I always had thought of Kame.
It would be obsolete when expressed in words, we have not achieve our goals.
Then, I selfishly started working with assumption of re-join of Kame.
I try to have adequate jobs for Kame with imaging his role in KOMA.
At that time, Kame started training as craftsman of furniture at Hachioji.
After one year since our dissolution, I invited Kame for drinking alcohol.
I would like to say "Shall we work together again ?"
"I will never work with you" was in line with my expectation.
I continued it 6 months.
He came back to KOMA with persuading his wife.
I would be the head of KOMA and Kame takes No.2.
It is not co-managed.
I take the responsibility.
First of all, we made JPY10,000,000 cash in one year.
We started running the company prioritizing relocation of the factory, replacing machines, employment as first goals.
We started three-legged race.
We have spent kaleidoscope changes, which I would not like to describe here given inability to write them completely.
It was tough at the same time fun.
Within recent 3 years, there has emerged a gap between Kame and me.
Although it is appreciated, higher evaluations by third parties have spread like wildfire.
Cover from magazines every month. Special TV programs. KOMA has become more exposed to media.
I felt higher evaluation than real.
I have gotten scared.
I have been under illusion that KOMA needs to catch up to the image before the true color is revealed.
I need to complete it myself.
I cannot stop it.
I just would not like to go back to tough time in KOMA.
I have sticked to continue to win.
Given no history, I thought of continuous wins would be only way for KOMA to survive.
Unconsciously, I fought by myself.
I turned to take care of only outside of the company without considering of inside of the company.
With no changes in business infrastructures for KOMA including number of employees, machinery facilities, and our real ability, in order to match to external evaluations for KOMA, there significantly increased what we are supposed to.
In small company, every single aspect of operations must be done ourselves.
Roles required to us have changed very rapidly and dramatically.
I needed to fill the gaps when anything were missing in the company.
The allocation of roles and responsibilities have become just passing the buck each others.
We tried to leave everything to each other instead of relying on each others.
Effective communications have been decreased and we seldom think and act together.
Unconsciously, the three-legged race between Kame and myself has come apart.
My impatience has ask Kame for more than what he is able to.
I have tended to become mad.
Kame has gotten less motivated.
We have blamed each other when we have encountered anything went well.
We were not able to match the growth of KOMA.
Anyway, everything may not necessarily bad.
Both Kame and myself were bad,
Neither Kame nor myself were bad.
It would be more appropriate description.
Of course, there are many points we need to improve.
Reflections would result in improve.
It is indeed real that KOMA exists now.
KOMA has survived 10 years, whose survival ratio is said to be 3%.
It has not been detour.
We both desperately have made efforts in what are supposed to make KOMA to survive, and, in fact, KOMA still exists.
It is not excuse, while, we have no choices other than what we have experienced.
We have spent time necessary to run KOMA as sustainable business.
Weakness to become more strong in the futures would be inevitable.
It would be weakness to be aware of in order to be more strong.
Now, KOMA is about to become really strong.
Now, we have become aware of what KOMA requires and which Kame and myself would be able to cover.
That is why roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined and allocated.
We have been aware of them due to growths of younger employees retained longer than before.
We have become able to run operations like three legged-race at that time.
And, more importantly, we are no longer two any more.
We all together go forward step by step wrapping arms around members' shoulders.
For me, Kamei is mirror reflecting myself.
He is a sidekick, the best buddy, fellow, partner, at the same time, something beyond all of them.
I am really lucky to become aware of it ahead of the next year.
I cannot remember last time I was really looking forward to beginning of the next year.
Of course, I have many concerns.
Anyway, I really appreciate everything and every colleague.
A happy new year !