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May 19, 2021 Article 3 min read

Not shy about a challenge, Yusuke has climbed Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak, eight times. He applied that same tenacity to creating our firm’s first Japanese business services practice.

Headshot of Yusuke Kuramochi.Having summitted Mount Fuji eight times, Yusuke Kuramochi isn’t scared of a challenge. So, when he came to Plante Moran in 2005 with a vision for a new practice, he was confident he could convince the firm that he could build a lucrative practice holistically serving Japanese businesses. 

“I’m an aggressive person by nature,” Yusuke said with a laugh. “I told them I could give them a million-dollar-practice in three years with $3 million in five years. I don’t think they were ready to hear those numbers.”

It’s safe to say that most avid mountaineers are invigorated where others are daunted. That’s Yusuke. While most Japanese students might concentrate on learning English in the classroom, Yusuke decided to work on his English while shepherding groups of climbers 3,776 meters up Mount Fuji.

“I’ve been a mountaineer for my entire life, since I could start in junior high. I combined that passion with my other early goal — learning English so I could come to the United States. That’s why I worked as a tour guide to bring tourists up the mountain,” said Yusuke. 

Dan Doescher, Yusuke’s first contact at the firm, remembers feeling excited about the potential of Yusuke’s vision for a Japanese business services practice.

“We would’ve been happy with half of what Yusuke predicted,” recalls Dan. “We loved his plan, and we saw that Plante Moran was the perfect place to launch this holistic practice, Japanese business services (JBS).” 

What was the secret sauce that brought Yusuke’s plan to life? A strong business plan, a strategic view, and Plante Moran’s culture.

“There’s a strong culture connection with Plante Moran and Japanese businesses,” said Yusuke. “Humility, respectfulness, trying to optimize versus maximize profit, a focus on the long-term. These pieces are extremely important when serving Japanese companies.”

Yusuke’s tenacity and the cultural match paid off. They blew their predictions out of the water and doubled their three-year goal. In fact, the practice grew so much, that it led to the opening of our Tokyo office in 2018. Yusuke knew exactly how he wanted to celebrate that milestone — at the top of Mount Fuji, of course.

Ever the persistent salesperson, Yusuke talked 18 of his colleagues into joining him on the expedition. And after a year of training, they summited Mount Fuji in 2019.

“There’s a connection to our teamwork and how it played out on our hike. The guides we hired — I was a little rusty so I thought it best to hire extra help — complimented us on having a cohesive team that helped each other. We were one of their only teams to have everyone make the two-day journey up and down together,” said Yusuke with a smile. “And it’s not easy. We trek seven hours the first day, then sleep awhile in a mountain hut, wake up at 2 a.m. for the three-hour push to the summit, and then make our descent down.”

Yusuke approaches mountain climbing the same way he approached our JBS practice, with smarts, tenacity, and grit.

“Yusuke is to PM like Michael Jordan is to the Bulls. This man is crazy brilliant. We just have to stay out of his way and support his vision,” said Dan. 

For Yusuke and his dream-made-reality of a Japanese business services practice, it’s really an extension of why he came to this country in the first place, for the American dream. “I’m so grateful for PM. I came to America to experience the American dream, to have a fair business opportunity, and I’m so glad to have found it with the help of the firm,” said Yusuke fondly.

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