Member Focus - Dermot Killoran

1. Could you give us an overview of your company?

I originally set up the company in 2003 as a video production business (Calderwood Productions) to produce corporate films. We had a certain level of success working with US car companies like Jeep, Chrysler & Dodge, reediting and localizing promotional video for their car showrooms in Japan. Working with the Dentsu Agency we also produced a number of TVCMs for Yamaha motor bike division in support of their sales & marketing in SE Asian territories. 

Unfortunately, that business came to a complete stop with the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami at which time my film & art director decided to leave Japan and return to London. I needed to downsize and reorganize the business and decided to concentrate on photography services, something I was very passionate about when I was much younger in Ireland. I now operate as a freelance photographer under the slightly changed name of Calderwood Images. I have two areas of specialty which are portrait/headshots and tourism related photography although I sometimes do other work such as special events.

In these times of widespread use of social media, people recognize the need to have their own professional photos to use as their profile on the various social & business platforms. More recently, we are all using on-line meeting platforms like Zoom etc, but that environment is not conducive to showing us in a good setting or with flattering lighting. For that reason a growing number of people wish to have a professionally taken image of themselves knowing that after an online video session many of the participants will check out their counterpart’s background and status on social media platforms - especially on LinkedIn.

So that’s one of the value propositions that drives my business right now and I am fortunate to have my own professional photo studio in Yotsuya.


2. How did your company first become involved in the IJCC?.

I have been a Professional Member of IJCC for many years - probably from a year or two after it was first established. I have been in Japan for already 30 years and it has been great to see how the Ireland / Japan relationship has grown since I first came here. It is so gratifying to note the close cultural and business links are underpinned by a vibrant amount of ‘people to people’ contact and which the IJCC has always taken a lead role in promoting.

Over the years I participated in many organized events between our two countries, so I got to know most of the people involved in supporting the community. I felt naturally  drawn to contribute to formalizing and further developing that relationship through active engagement as a member of IJCC. 


3. What is your connection to Ireland?

I was born in Dublin and still have family members there. In the past I tried to get back as often as I could, but with Covid – it’s been almost three years since my last trip, the longest ever!

My professional career in Ireland was a 23-year career with the Bank of Ireland.

In 1990, I was tasked with setting up the bank’s representative office in Tokyo. However, due to business reorganization the bank decided to close the office after three years. During that time I was totally focused on supporting Japanese manufacturing & investment projects locating in Ireland. My role was to market the various banking and lending services to Japanese corporates which bank sought to develop with these inward investment projects. I still take great interest in seeing the businesses links continue to develop and proposer and especially how the Irish economy has expanded over the years with the participation of many Japanese companies.


4. What do you like about Japan?

After living here for 30 years there are many things to love and appreciate about Japan.  Being here with my wife Yumiko and our four sons means I am supported with a strong family foundation. Recently we had a third generation arrival with the birth of my first grandson. So I can say that the ‘Killoran’ roots are now firmly established in Japan.

I really like the way Japanese society works by being orderly, reliable and efficient. In business it’s not just price and quality that matters, but also the ‘person’ component is very important in how you can have success. Developing personal relationships with Japanese counterparts becomes the foundations for reliability and trustworthiness in creating success over the long term. Coming from a ‘local’ society of Ireland, I think we can all understand and be relaxed with these concepts. In short, there are many things I personally find appealing about Japan (and even familiar and comforting!).


5. How has COVID-19 pandemic changed your business in a year?

Socially it has impacted me quite severely as my social connections frequently open the door to business opportunities. Due to health risks and restrictions there is less opportunity to engage in business networking or meet up with people in person.

Also, I am working with partners on a new business venture to promote inward tourism called Visit2Japan. However, travel plans to secure the promotional photographic content in local areas and meet with tourism promotion businesses has been delayed by the ongoing Covid travel restrictions. So we are six months or so behind in that project.


6. What areas of growth do you see for your company (or sector) in the next 12 to 24 months?

Right now the outlook for my business uncertain and somewhat challenging. Much depends on how the overall Japanese economy develops and whether there will be a meaningful post-Olympics boost to the economy. 

Again, the Covid Pandemic is a big factor as to whether the economy will improve and whether a foreign tourism boom can be restarted anytime soon?

To survive in my business I have minimized my fixed overhead as far as possible. As an owner-manager of a small business I can fortunately quickly react to any changes in the business environment. Therefore, I can say, I am looking to the future with a degree, of cautious optimism!