Faces of Lubricants: Yasu Wakabayashi

Sep 23, 2020

Yasu Wakabayashi is an open-minded sales manager who’s dedicated to successfully growing Ingevity’s Lubricants business in Japan. Yasu has been with Ingevity since July 2017. He splits his time between performance materials and performance chemicals businesses. Yasu was in sales and marketing in the petroleum/petrochemicals industries for more than 30 years before joining Ingevity. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Tokyo University of Agriculture, and a master’s degree in marketing from University of Southern California. Yasu was born in Tokyo and currently lives in Chiba with his wife and two daughters.

Tell us about the experience you bring to your role and what you do at Ingevity.

As a local sales manager for Ingevity’s Lubricants business, I have the responsibility of growing business through close communication with management and peers. I have been in the chemical and petroleum industries for more than 30 years and excel in communication with end users in an effort to gain trust by the customers. Japanese customers are typically quite conservative and relationship-oriented culture driven, therefore regular interval communication and exchanging broad market information are vital. In many cases they will ask for long-term relationship with cross-function coordination from the management to front line. I confidently enjoy navigating these relationships to achieve success in the Japanese market.

We know you travel quite a bit. What are a few of your favorite places you’ve been?

Yasu with his family.

Of course, Charleston is a great place although I have been there only once during my induction training for Ingevity in August 2017. The people are so friendly and wonderful. I’d love to extend my next visit and explore more of the U.S. east coast in the future. I love visiting historical places and enjoy learning about the architecture.

What’s one of your favorite memories from a project?

Japan has a local competitor to our business and it’s my job to help strategize how to differentiate our position against them. By insisting on business continuity plan (BCP) concepts, one of the key customers is now showing interest in ISO tank business to share the “base-load” position for Ingevity. I am currently tackling this business with the help from my team and look forward to working on this project.

What are you most proud of?

I take pride in the idea that at Ingevity, “small is beautiful.” The U.S. team is so quick to help any customer inquiries or questions, and the Tokyo team is dedicated to the customers 24/7. The local Japanese customers value our world class co-working and find it to be extremely effective and competitive.

When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

All of my family loves to travel as well. Our two grown daughters join us once a year for a family vacation. We love visiting the Disney theme parks in Florida and California, Hawaii, UK, France, Spain and Asian beaches. Since overseas travel is currently limited, we explore Mt. Fuji and other mountainous areas later this summer.

What’s the first concert you attended? Favorite musician?

My first concert was most likely a classical piano concert because I grew up with a mother who loves any kind of music. Simon and Garfunkel are some of my favorite musicians that my mother taught me. I’ve recently been listening to a lot of rock and roll — it energizes me a lot!

What is your dream vacation?

Aurora watching in Alaska is something I’ve always wanted to do. And if possible, I would like to visit the Antarctic continent.

What natural talent would you like to have?

How NOT to upset women! Being married for 28 years, I’ve had but no days that I don’t upset my wife or daughters. I have naturally learned three things that I should do at home: stay quiet, pay finances and carry things. Am I right? 🙂