Miami has become the focal point of Fujifilm’s expansion into Latin America, as the company deftly shifts its core business from film products to health care and optics.
This isn’t the first or second time Fujifilm has changed its business performance. It was originally developed to produce nitrocellulose film for both still and movie cameras. Nitrate based film is extremely flammable.
Remember the scene of the theater fire in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film “Inglourious Basterds, This is how nitrate-based film burns. Film history buffs who want more can Google “Screen, Burn, Kill: The Forgotten Story of Nitrate Film Stock”.
Fuji Photo Film, later Fujifilm, began in 1934 as the first subsidiary of a Japanese company that began in 1919 with a merger of eight celluloid manufacturers.
Within four years of Fuji Photo’s founding, nitrate film was being phased out. The company increasingly focused its production on the joy and accidental discovery of “safety” film, a non-flammable cellulose acetate film.
Medical technology and optics may have become Fujifilm’s new primary focus, but the company has a history in both areas. After World War II, Fujifilm expanded its product base, diversifying into X-ray film and diagnostic equipment, printing, electronic imaging, optical glass and lenses.
Fujifilm, part of the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group financial conglomerate, ramped up the number of overseas sales bases in the mid-1950s. In the 1980s, it increased production and other bases overseas.
When the company turned its attention to Latin America, Miami became the obvious choice for its headquarters, explains Rinne Okame, general manager of the new 8,282-square-foot facility at 6161 Blue Lagoon Dr. Suite 100, just south of Miami International Airport. .
Potential customers can fly into the airport, drive to Fujifilm Medical Systems just south of the Dolphin Expressway, and stay at one of several nearby hotels.
“Miami is considered a gateway to Latin American countries,” Mr. Oukame said. “It’s very convenient for international and direct flights.” He added that Miami is “one of the most visited cities by Latin American visitors and investors.
“With its Spanish-speaking environment, high security and economic stability,” Mr. Oukame said, “Miami is an extension of their homes.”
Manager Aline Fernandez said the Miami facility will produce “MRI, CT, and X-ray machines, portable X-ray machines, as well as” ultrasound machines, blood analyzers, mammographers, and endoscopic equipment.
Currently the Miami division has 16 employees and is hiring more. The staff includes “local employees, expatriates from Japan, and individuals transferred from other Fujifilm subsidiaries,” Mr. Okame said, as well as “searching for talent from Latin America.”
According to a company report, Fujifilm Holdings Corp is a public company headquartered in Japan with an estimated 73,275 employees. “In the US, the company has significant market share in at least two industries: recordable media manufacturing and chemical product manufacturing,” the report said.
According to the financial web site macrotrends.net, its net income in 2021 was $1.7 billion, up 48% from 2020.
The company invented Computed Radiography (CR), which solved many of the issues of conventional radiography, resulting in decreased radiation exposure to both technicians and patients.
In March 2021, Fujifilm acquired Hitachi Diagnostic Imaging for $1.3 billion. “By combining the two organizations’ product line-ups, Fujifilm aims to offer a comprehensive solution that meets a wide range of clinical needs,” said a company report.