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Yamato Transport Co.’s parcel delivery fleet with its black cat logo has made “takkyubin” a household word.

How did Yamato Transport build its door-to-door takkyubin delivery success, and how does it feel about the April demise of the Postal Services Agency and debut of its public corporation successor, Japan Post?

Since Yamato Transport launched its parcel service in 1976, the carrier has led the industry, often by cultivating niche markets. It has also pressed for deregulation of postal services.

During the fiscal year that ended March 31, Yamato Transport delivered 983 million parcels, up 36 million from the previous year. The firm logged 651 billion yen in parcel delivery sales, up 15 billion yen from the previous year.

Yamato Transport has a nationwide network of 300,000 delivery points of origin, including small shops and convenience stores where orders can be taken. Ubiquitous as cats, these sites can be found in most communities in Japan.

The carrier is now gearing up to deliver packages anywhere in Japan within 24 hours.

“We developed the home-to-home parcel delivery market by carefully assessing our customers’ needs and creating a barrier-free corporate organization,” Masatoshi Chosho, assistant manager of Yamato Transport’s takkyubin division, said, adding that customers can convey their opinions directly to top Yamato Transport managers via e-mail.

Yamato Transport in addition solicits ideas for new or better services from workers outside the planning section, he said.

“Local branches can also get involved in projects led by the Tokyo headquarters and propose new ideas to create better services,” Chosho said.

Yamato Transport’s Saitama branches, for example, started an arrangement June 19 with Tobu Railway Co. and Tobu Landsystem Co. in which lockers at four stations on the Tobu Tojo Line, including Mizuhodai, are used for pickup and delivery of parcels, with customers kept informed of delivery times through e-mail.

Last October, Yamato started providing customers with the mobile phone numbers of its delivery personnel, instead of just distribution centers, so they can keep better track of shipments.

Yamato Transport also has long been at the forefront of efforts to get the postal business deregulated.

Although Japan Post has inherited 24,700 post offices nationwide from the deregulated agency, the carrier, a public corporation, has yet to encroach on Yamato Transport’s takkyubin parcel turf.

“Regardless of what Japan Post or our other rivals do, we will continue developing services to meet the growing demand of our customers,” Chosho said.

Over the years, Yamato Transport has debuted various original takkyubin services, many of which ease the burden on travelers. For example, it delivers people’s ski equipment to resorts and vice versa when their trip is over, takes golf clubs to and from the course and luggage to and from airports.

The ski delivery service, a first in Japan when it started in 1983, became a turning point in Yamato’s quest to develop niche markets, Chosho said.

“No other carrier at the time offered such parcel delivery services focusing on niche markets,” he said. “It is very important to keep a step ahead of our rivals.”

Yamato Transport in 1988 had another first with the debut of its Cool Takkyubin refrigerated parcel service, using temperature-controlled refrigeration vehicles.

“We are proud that Cool Takkyubin became a major service that helped nurture the nation’s business of delivering fresh agricultural products from producers to consumers,” Chosho said.

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