Sym-Tek's Boss Solving Japanese Puzzle

Japan may be a puzzle to many American business people, but it's extremely attractive to Sym-Tek President Ray Twigg.

For starters, Japanese semiconductor manufacturers generate half of his company's sales, up from 20% just five years ago.

But to Twigg, Japan is more than just a place to do business.

The San Diego-based semiconductor equipment manufacturer is a constant reader of books and articles about Japan. He is taking Japanese language lessons and hopes to be speaking Japanese by mid-year.

Twigg hopes to move to Japan in about five years, along with his wife, Masami, a native of that country who came to the United States several years ago. The couple met in San Diego.

Consequently, when it's time to visit Masami Twigg's family, the couple boards a Tokyo-bound airliner.

"When we visit, they're always cooking big Japanese meals for me," Twigg said. "I enjoy eating the local food."

The Twiggs "only recently started discussing" the move to Japan, Twigg said. But when the couple is ready, Twigg will "keep on working and (probably) take a different position" in the electronics industry.

Twigg's interest in Japan has increased at a steady rate--not unlike the rising percentage of sales made by Sym-Tek to Japanese companies.

Domestic sales used to generate 80% of Sym-Tek's revenue. Foreign sales--with the lion's share going to Japan--now account for 50% of Sym-Tek's business.

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