Being announced as the winner for the Roland Creative Award of North America was the most amazing feeling. To be recognized by a company like Roland for our creative work is such an honor, that it’s really hard to put into words. We have been huge fans of Roland since we first started our company in 2009. We started with a few PC computers and a SP-540v printer. I truly believe that the SP-540v was the foundation of our business and had a huge part of us being successful and aided us to grow into the company we are today.
We knew the solid products Roland made, but who is Roland? I think my favorite part of the trip to Japan was actually meeting the people behind these awesome machines.
When we first met Dave Goward, president/CEO of Roland DGA, it was kind of intimidating. I remember looking back at John and whispering, “Dood, we just shook hands with the president of Roland DGA.” But as we toured the headquarters and hung out more, you start to realize that Dave is super laid back. He was really nice and very funny. To hang out with someone of his stature that cool was refreshing.
We spent most of our days touring Japan with Dede Sabey and Tiffany Wakimoto from Roland’s Marketing Department. What can I say about these two other than they are totally awesome. Even though we just met it felt like I knew them a long time. Very easy to talk to and made our trip comfortable and fun. They did a great job setting everything up for all the guests. I’m glad we got to share these wonderful memories of Japan with them.
We took a tour of the Roland DG headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan. Or as I like to call it, Land of the Unagi. When we first arrived, there was this crazy looking room that looked like something out of a movie. The room was designed to prevent electrostatic discharge while testing machines (I think). I believe they said the entire room was on shocks so it wouldn’t shake during an earthquake. Sugoi!
As we continued the tour of the factory, you realize everything was super clean and organized. All the machines are hand built by one person (a woman) from start to finish, using a cell system production or their own self factory. While following instructions displayed on a monitor, sensors on the tools guide the worker to build these machines with no errors. A rotating carousel swivels on cue providing the correct fasteners so they don’t grab the wrong ones. Training takes only 2 days and anyone off the street can do it. Truly amazing and efficient.
The first night when we arrived at the Act Tower Hotel in Hamamatsu and looked out the window, I couldn’t get over how amazing the view was. The sights in Hamamatsu, Kyoto and Tokyo were incredible. Roland really went all out for all the regional winners. How do I know they really went all out? The last day we were in Tokyo we stayed at The New Otani Hotel. As we were leaving there were bodyguards and news reporters everywhere. John said he thought he saw a celebrity step out of a limo and people were taking photos of him. I asked the manager as we were checking out if someone famous had come to the hotel. He replied yes, the prime minister of Japan was there. I was like OMG, that’s equivalent to Barack Obama being there. I’m pretty sure that means the hotel was top notch.
The hotels we stayed at were very upscale. The food we ate was oh so delicious. The tour we took was phenomenal. The company we had was awesome. Hanging out with people from 16 different countries was out of this world. Thanks Roland for an unforgettable trip. These memories will stay with us for a lifetime. Cheers from John and Phil with our 30 year old sake wishing Roland DG a happy 30th anniversary. =)