Like most aging chief executives in Japan, Sadatsugu Kishida had a list of demands before handing over the reins of his company.

"No job cuts. No company name change. You must understand and inherit my philosophy in serving customers,” the 77-year-old said. Having dictated every single decision at Kyowa Seiko for four decades, Kishida said he couldn’t think of anyone who could take over his 30-person metal-processing business on the outskirts of Osaka. Private equity funds would resell the company, outside executives would prioritize their own firms, and his employees and family were not ready, he said.

Last month, Next Generation Technology Group convinced Kishida to let go. The Tokyo-based firm was the only suitor who promised to protect every job, keep Kyowa Seiko’s name and honor its commitments to longtime customers like Kyocera. "My bank suggested I meet with them, and I thought they were all going to be elite, college graduate snobs. But I was wrong,” said Kishida, who accepted NGTG’s bid and didn’t even consider other offers on the table. "It was love at first sight.”