Tarred With The Same Brush

In a frenzied attempt to rebuild a destroyed country after World War II, Japanese industry focused on low-value-added, cheap consumer goods—matchsticks, toys, sewing machines, binoculars, radios, cars and cameras— almost  anything.

The occupying army, led by General George MacArthur and directed by Secretary of State George Marshall, encouraged the reconstruction of the industrial infrastructure from military to peacetime use.  They had concluded that instead of a Marshall Plan, Japan should export its way to recovery. Energy was cheap and plentiful, capital was made available, and the United States opened its markets to Japanese goods in order to assist the country’s recovery.

Japanese manufacturers began manufacturing in bulk and attempted to gain market share by pricing their products far below their competitors.  American consumers bought the goods, but the products were often poorly made and “Made In Japan” became synonymous with shoddy, cheap goods—matchsticks that would not fire, plastic camera housings that broke, cars that rattled.  Datsun’s first car exported to the United States was called Bluebird, and it is not remembered fondly.

Within that vast bulk of shoddy, cheap goods, there were exceptions: world-class products that lasted a lifetime and are still in use today.  Examples of these gems are some cameras and lenses.  While many cameras were poorly made, others stood out and were beautifully made, functional and at a par with the best cameras in the world.  Early post-war cameras from companies like Yashica, Minolta and Nikon are still cherished by collectors.  These companies, and others like them, were scorned and tarred with the same brush as the rest of the Japanese goods—cheaply made, prone to breakage, and to be thrown away soon after purchase.

Many industries go through a similar cycle at their start. There is an initial rush of suppliers seeking a market presence by competing on price, with the implicit assumption that quality and good processes will follow once business comes in the door.  There is the inevitable entry-exit of companies until the chaff is shaken out.  The companies remaining have to combat the leftover impression of poor quality and sharp business practices, often for many years thereafter.

The offshore outsourcing industry serving the title insurance market is going through exactly this process, with offshore outsourcing viewed negatively by many. They have seen the poor quality work, the missed documents, the typos in the abstracts, the unexplained delays in completing the work, the rework of many orders done overseas at cheap prices by relatively untrained people prone to rapid movement from company to company.  Blogs and postings on LinkedIn gleefully point out the increase in loss ratios from offshore outsourcing.

And yet, while this process is working itself out, there are outstanding companies whose work has stood the test of time, and whose customers have rewarded them with unswerving loyalty.  HDEP International began serving the title industry in 1989.  The quality and reliability of our work is demonstrated by the loyalty of our customers.  Our median customer has been with us for ten years, and our oldest customer has worked with us since 1989, now celebrating the 30th year of our association.

Please contact us if you think we may be a fit for your needs.

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