The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

For Japanese recruitment agency Apex Inc., which focuses on talent acquisition for domestic and global companies in a variety of industries, the past year has been a good one.

As founder and Chief Executive Officer Kazuhisa Hashimoto explained, it has been a time when a number of positive developments—some dating back a few years—have come to fruition. In 2015, the company was recognized at the inaugural Nikkei Human Resources Agent Awards. They won again in 2016.

Hashimoto said these honors were a great shot in the arm for the company, which was founded in 2006. “Our reputation and recognition in the recruitment industry improved dramatically [after the awards], and we received so many more inquiries from new companies and gained more regis­tered applicants.”

Apex also received a significant boost after it won the Specialist Recruitment Company of the Year Award at the 2018 Recruitment International (RI) Awards. Hashimoto said: “We gained more business from foreign-funded companies, and we now have increased the number of high-class candi­dates who earn a higher income. With these changes, we have seen an increase in the average price per order. And, having higher recognition in the recruitment industry has helped us hire better staff. We are now in a great cycle of receiving more applications, hiring talented and experienced professionals, and bringing in increased revenue through these new hires.”

The company has also posted strong performance over the past year. Hashimoto said that revenue has increased 120 percent compared with last year and, in the past quarter, has risen 150 percent. This, he explained, has enabled Apex to hire more staff, and the company has plans to move to a larger office.

In the past year, Hashimoto has hired five new agents, and says their performance has already exceeded expectations. These agents cover:

  • IT and internet
  • Insurance
  • Accounting and auditing
  • Strategic consulting
  • Construction

Apex has had particularly strong results in banking and finance recently, filling a wide variety of positions for domestic and global companies. But their clients across all industries are very pleased with the results. “We commonly receive positive feedback, and our client companies say that candidates placed through Apex tend to stay longer, show effectiveness immediately, and get great internal evaluations. Our clients trust us because of our extensive positive track record.”

Hashimoto said that one of the secrets to this success is satisfied staff, and he places a high priority on making sure that his employees are satisfied with their work–life balance. Aside from a regular weekly meeting, employees are not required to come into the office every day and can work according to the schedules that suit them best.

He also plans special acti­vities that bolster a strong spirit of pride and comradery. “We have a company dinner party every two months. In our company, it’s been proven that it’s better for team-building to have fewer highly engaged regular meetings than just seeing each other every day with no purpose and having many meetings with low productivity. In October, we are planning on having a company leisure trip to Guam. We believe we can strengthen our team by spending quality time overseas, being far away from work.”

For a recruitment company, establishing a strong brand can be difficult, but Hashimoto believes that a combination of traditional methods and being recognized by their peers has worked well for Apex. “Except for some big companies that are listed on the stock exchange, most recruiting companies struggle with building their own brand, and spend a large amount on advertising. We are not an exception. However, we are proud to say that we are not just gaining recognition by advertising actively, but by winning many awards. In other words, we have improved our branding and recognition by being highly evaluated by other companies.”

And they have their sights set on more. Following their success at last year’s RI Awards, they have been nominated for The Growth Company of the Year Award in the 2019 competition. Hashimoto is quietly confident about his company’s prospects, for the upcoming awards and the years to come.