Canon Virginia, Inc.: Forging the path

Curtis Hawkins explains the company’s stellar recycling initiatives and its impact in other domains. (Photo by Karen Eure Wilson)

While Canon Virginia, Inc. sits quietly behind its gates on 165 acres of land, its stellar reputation and results resound throughout the Americas and beyond. From its earliest days in the mid-80s until now, the company has been a change agent in advancing its core technologies into non-traditional realms while remaining steadfast to the cultural traditions on which it flourishes.

“There’s a corporate philosophy which is the Japanese Kyosei,” says Curtis Hawkins, vice president, Business Operations Group, Canon Virginia, Inc. “It’s not just a word, it’s what we put into action.”

Canon’s website states, “Our dedication to Kyosei guides our tradition of commitment to protect and preserve our most precious of resources—the world we share, the communities we serve and the lives we touch. We do this through environmental, conservation, recycling and sustainability initiatives. We also practice Kyosei through social and educational programs on behalf of young people and those in need.”

This philosophy has proven successful for this company that forges into new territories to transform its core technologies into industry-changing resources and tools that meet the needs of today and address the challenges of tomorrow. In the early days, it operated as a factory with a focus on printers and copiers. Today, as a regional technical headquarters, Canon Virginia is zooming in on so much more.

Says Rhonda Bunn, director of human resources and public relations, Canon Virginia, Inc., “When Curtis and I first came—we both came about 20 years ago—we were doing mass producing so you had these long assembly lines where you would put your part on and then you’d do it again and again. With the advances in technology, that’s not the way we do that anymore. Our capabilities and how we’re doing things have changed.”

“From that perspective, we’ve gone from an industrial engineering activity from where you’re gaining efficiencies through man, motion, machine, to now you’re actually an advanced manufacturer where you’re looking at robotics—using AI, (artificial intelligence), the internet of things,” says Hawkins.

For the most part, Canon operations fall into five different business units: the Imaging Communication Group includes products such as cameras, lenses and various projectors; Peripheral Projects includes office-imaging products such as copiers for office settings and production copiers; the Inkjet Unit focuses on personal printers performing mass production for mass consumer markets; Medical, which focuses on imaging diagnostics and products and processes such as the DNA Analyzer; and the last group, Industry and Other.

Says Hawkins, “This is really the future development that includes semi-conductors which makes a lot of the chips in your printer circuit boards. We also do LED, which is our new display that is very bright and vivid with a high pixel count. There are other items in this category where we’re trying to branch out into new areas of business.

“We also have very special projects that we work on,” Hawkins continues. For example, “With what’s going on with agriculture right now, we hear reports all the time that in 20 to 30 years from now, water will be scarce. We’re thinking about how Canon’s core technology can be used to support something in that arena.”

With this expanse in outreach and focus, the company’s workforce has also expanded from simple assembly operators to technical operators. Hawkins says, “We’ve organically grown through the help of Rhonda and her workforce development which has been the key. We’ve completely transformed who we are from not only what we do but also in regard to the people who work here.”

Bunn is pleased with the high level and quality of vast professionals and college interns who are part of the team. She emphasizes that people are not referred to as employees, but as members. “It doesn’t matter what your title is, we’re here for a common purpose.”

It’s a purpose that seems well received. Says Bunn, “Canon has been successful in part because of the community—because of the support we
get from community members, from our employees and really the city
[of Newport News]. We have a very unique relationship with the city that a lot of our other Canon companies in the U.S. just don’t have and it has helped us be successful.” Bunn also recognizes and applauds the work that Hawkins has done to build Canon Virginia into the global powerhouse that it is today.

As Canon continues to boldly move into new territories, Hawkins predicts that Canon will no longer be known as the camera company. He says, “It will be known as the solutions company for bigger problems using our core technologies,” for the greater purpose.

TO THE POINT:
Canon Virginia, Inc.
Address: 12000 Canon Blvd.,
Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Rhonda Bunn, human resources and public relations
Phone: 757-881-6229
Website: www.cvi.canon.com

Karen Eure Wilson
About Karen Eure Wilson 11 Articles
Karen Eure Wilson is a mother, an evangelist, entrepreneur, print journalist, author, speaker and broadcast producer. She entered the world of journalism as a mass media major at Hampton University and honed those skills as a public affairs specialist at Fort Eustis and Langley AFB. In this "second season" of her life, she has coined the term "DIP" (deliberate, intentional and protective) as her map for navigating the adventures and opportunities that lie ahead. Karen wrote for the Oyster Pointer for three years, 2010 - 2013, and happily returns to help highlight the great people and programs of Newport News and the surrounding area.

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