During his recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, the CEO of Sigma Global, Mr. Kazuto Yamaki has been kind enough to give an interview to Ming Thein, a photographer who owns a fascinating blog which also hosted the interview. During the discussion, Yamaki-san has given more details about his company and his family’s history, as well as the philosophy that drives their business. From the looks of it, Sigma may just be among the most equitable and sustainable large businesses out there, truly marrying the advantages of a traditional workplace with the grandness of a modern corporation.
This is what we mean by that: first of all, Sigma was founded in the early 1960 by the father of the current CEO, Yamaki-san, and has remained a family owned business to this day, with all the beautiful advantages this curtails. For example, they still maintain the tradition of life-long employment for all their workers. Moreover, the desire to maintain domestic employment has even dictated some of their business decisions over the years as well (such as opting for producing higher volume and less expensive parts and selling them to other companies instead of going for creating more expensive merchandise for bigger profit).
Then, towards the end of the 90s, the company started to slowly move its way up to higher value products, at a pace slow enough to allow them to keep their workforce domestic. This means the world has then begun to know some of Sigma’s iconic products, such as the Faveon cameras and the beautiful lenses which became a hit with the enthusiast photographers of that era.
The philosophy of the Sigma Corporation makes it an unusual place among the world of large corporations, and it embodies the continuity of what the current CEO’s father has set out to do in the 60s. To this day, Yamaki-san rises up very early (4:30 AM), is the first to come to the office and start working, and he doesn’t even have a separate desk of his own, preferring to share a communal space with some of his employees. He also clocks in long hours, preferring to actively get as involved as he can in the actual work done at his family-owned company. If that doesn’t set an positive example and becomes an inspiration to his workers and other companies alike, we don’t know what would.
You can read the full interview here. Also, note that Kazuto Yamaki has promised to answer any questions which arise directly on the page of the interview, and on his own Twitter account (@KazutoYamaki) as well. So, if you want to ask him a question, now is the time to ask.