Saying goodbye, Mr. Koso style

Published May 13, 2022, 8:02 AM

by Pinky Concha-Colmenares

Road Sense

Sitting under the wide canopy of trees, a gurgling river a hundred meters away, the cool afternoon breeze coming and going, was the perfect time to talk about anything. With Mr. Hajime Koso, who will soon be turning over his position as president of Isuzu Philippines Corporation after seven years here, it was the perfect time to talk about what he will be leaving behind.

The setting of our conversation says much about Mr. Koso. In the past two months, he had been visiting friends in the motoring media in extraordinary settings that will certainly not be forgotten. He’s planted a tree in the farm lot of Anjo Perez. He’s “sailed” on a bamboo raft around Yambo Lake on April 21, with nine birthday celebrants – Jenny Pineda (Sunshine Television), Anjo Perez (Wheels Magazine), Inigo Roces (Manila Bulletin), Vernon Sarne (Visor), Dinzo Tabamo (Top Gear), Jeff Reyes (Zigwheels), Andy Sevilla (Market Watch), Aries Espinosa (Business World), and Gelzon dela Cruz (realworlddrive).

And he’s sat with Ron de los Reyes (Auto Review) and me at Camp Well at the foothills of Mt. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal. Mr. Koso had invited us to a day hike, his way to say goodbye to friends who had trekked Mt. Pulag and some minor trails with him. Unfortunately, days of rain before our day hike had swollen the river which prevented us from crossing to get to the trail. We cancelled that and spent more time under the trees at Camp Well, with IPC friends — Joseph Bautista, Yvonne Linchangco and Hermes Canon.

Mr. Koso’s way of seeking a few hours of conversation with friends to say goodbye was unexpected, but much appreciated.

“What I will miss most will be the friends I made here,” he said.

And what is his legacy in IPC? Mr. Koso’s tone turned a little “official.” He told us the story of the Isuzu House; the roof representing the shareholders, team members, dealers and customers; the foundation, the aftersales service and parts. The two pillars holding up the roof represent its products — the light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and the commercial vehicles (CVs). 

Seven years ago, he had told me the story about the Isuzu house, his analogy of a plan to grow the company. That afternoon, the Isuzu house had taken on more form and states the company’s impressive performance in seven years, two of those under various lockdown restrictions caused by the pandemic.

Among these are the 300,000-unit sale milestone, the dominance of Isuzu trucks in the Philippine market with a 47-percent share; and the continued leadership of the Isuzu N-Series in the light commercial truck category, cornering 57 percent.

Its aftersales service, has also improved. The delivery of parts to dealerships is now daily, from the once-a-week schedule then.

A significant member of its team now is the Mobile Medic, a service truck that goes on site to provide maintenance and repair services to customers. There are now 30 Mobile Medic trucks stationed at the dealerships.

A significant contributor to sales created under his term is the Truck Elites. Just like what the name says — it is an elite force who have been trained to get to know each Isuzu truck product and talk about it like an engineer.

Mr. Koso will also be remembered for the development of Isuzu Traviz which was introduced in 2020. This lightweight duty truck was designed for small to medium scale businesses. Its slogan — Transcend your business ؙ— says what it is built for.  It has the body that can carry products and the engine that is a “reliable partner” in business operations.

Someone who leaves behind a stronger Isuzu House will not be forgotten at IPC. And someone who takes time to say goodbye with nature somewhere in the background will never be a forgotten friend.