HISTORY OF YAMAZEN
Cutting tool business begun in Osaka
Yamazen’s beginnings lie in Osaka Tool Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which was established by Yamazen’s founder, Takeo Yamamoto, after striking out on his own at the age of 22. Yamamoto had previously worked for eight years as an apprentice at a cutting tool trading company in Itachibori in the city of Osaka, having left his birthplace in Fukui Prefecture at the age of 14. However, at that time Japan was in the middle of the Pacific War. Before long Yamamoto received his call-up papers. He closed the business and was sent to the front line in Okinawa. After the end of the war, he was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp before returning home at the end of 1946.
Founder Takeo Yamamoto establishes Yamazen Tool Manufacturing & Sales Co., Ltd.
Air raid fires had left the streets of Osaka a charred wasteland. At this point the work to begin the work of restoration of Osaka, let alone its revitalization, had only just begun. Hammers and shovels were considered more necessary than cutting tools. Although the sign mentioned cutting tools, Yamazen Tool Manufacturing & Sales Co., Ltd. was established in May 1947 with the short-term aim of selling those goods required for the restoration of daily life. In this way the Yamazen we know today first came into the world.
Company name is changed to Yamazen Co., Ltd.
“You only have a business when you respond to the needs of customers, and make them happy.” Based on this business philosophy espoused by the founder, the company actively worked to expand the range of products it handled, from cutting tools to industrial equipment and equipment used in public works and construction. In this way the company began down the path to becoming a general wholesaler, and changed its name to reflect the tremendous future potential.
Company stock is listed on second section of Osaka Stock Exchange
On the 10th anniversary of the company, sales exceeded ¥1 billion. By this point Yamazen had grown to be one of the top five companies in the cutting tool distribution industry, and the founder’s long-held dream of listing the company had become a clearly defined goal. In addition to expanding and enhancing the lineup of products, the company maintained and bolstered its sales network, while moving ahead aggressively with other initiatives such as putting in place an organizational structure and educating employees. In the 15th year of its existence, the company achieved the founder’s heartfelt desire of listing on the second section of the Osaka Stock Exchange in October 1, 1962, which was followed by a listing on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on September 25, 1963.
Yamazen enters the housing equipment market
After the war, the reconstruction and installation of water and sewerage systems led to strong demand for related materials, such as pipes, couplings and valves, as well as pipe wrenches and other associated tools. Yamazen did enter the housing equipment market, but in addition to requiring a significant amount of inventory, the process from receipt of orders to delivery of items was burdensome. Unable to turn a profit, the company temporarily withdrew. However, in July 1965 the company made a full-scale entry into the housing equipment market centered on sales of kitchen sinks and oil heaters, which came under the newly launched “Cultural Equipment Department” set up to handle housing equipment for cultural life. This marked the beginning of what is now the Building Materials division.
Subsequently, with the appearance of household room coolers, the company started full-scale sales of air conditioning equipment.
Local subsidiary is established in the United States
Takeo Yamamoto had been observing the industry in the United States and Canada and gained an intuitive sense of the size and potential of the North American market. He then decided to open a sales office in the United States, which was at that point the largest overseas market, and established the Chicago office in April 1963, which became a local subsidiary in 1967.
This was Yamazen’s first foray overseas, and it has become the foundation for our current expansion outside Japan.
Company is listed on the first sections of the Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges
During Japan's high-speed growth era, Yamazen had attracted attention as a “fierce” company led by a “fierce” president. In 1966, Yamazen hammered out a “5-Year Plan For Building a First Section Listed Company,” which was to run to 1971. The aim of the plan was to build a robust foundation for a specialized cutting tools trading company, and to create the scale and the depth appropriate to such an organization. By focusing on strengthening the makeup of management and putting in place internal infrastructure, the company accomplished the objectives of the plan a year ahead of schedule, and in the year of the 23rd anniversary of its founding achieved listings on the first sections of the Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges.
Company name is changed to Yamazen Corporation
As the proportion of sales accounted for by the housing department, pollution prevention and medical equipment, living and leisure products increased, the company changed its name once again with the aim of shattering the fixed perception of “Yamazen for machines and tools,” and of developing into a specialized trading company engaged in a wide range of functions and business areas.
Yamazen enters the construction/real estate business
In 1972 plans for “Rebuilding the Japanese Archipelago” were announced, leading to a terrific boom in land and real estate. Yamazen began a full-scale entry into the construction, real estate and housing markets in order to create a second pillar after that of machinery and tools. The company began subcontracted construction of facilities such as condominiums, bowling alleys, hotels, golf courses, and hospitals, as well as a business for the construction and sale of its own condominiums, and extended its reach further from development, embarking on the sale of materials and major equipment connected to construction.
The founder as role model “Doterai Yatsu” novel is televised
In July 1972 a novel by Kobako Hanato called “Doterai Yatsu,” based on the life of Takeo Yamamoto, the founder of Yamazen, was published and became popular. In October 1973, the novel was dramatized as a television series and broadcast nationwide on networks affiliated with Fuji Television and Kansai Television. The story of how the main character “Mo-yan” hurls himself against a succession of difficulties using a combination of pride, courage and wisdom, while gradually becoming a successful businessman, attracted the attention of viewers. The drama series became extraordinarily popular, reaching an average viewing rating of 27%, and a peak viewing rating of more than 35%.
Specialized trade show
“Doterai-Ichi” is held
The “New Living Exhibition” specialized trade show for housing equipment was held in July 1974. The operation and preparations for the exhibition venue, as well as the layout of products, etc., were conducted primarily by younger employees, and was more successful than expected. This experience and know-how was drawn together to hold the “1st Doterai-Ichi” trade show in April 1975, using the Western Japan Yamazen Warehouse Center in Higashi Osaka City as a venue. Unusually for the time, this was a “look, touch, check” style of trade show, and rapidly attracted attention within the industry, becoming a major talking point. The “Doterai-Ichi” show, whose “sales offices, manufacturers, Yamazen” tripartite business model was conceived by front-line sales teams, is still held nationwide today, more than 40 years after it was launched.
Declaration of a state of emergency
During the largest recession of the post-war era that followed the first oil shock, Yamazen posted enormous ordinary losses, and was confronted by the greatest crisis since the founding of the company. The most significant factor behind the deterioration in performance was excessive investment in real estate, and 1976 saw “Emergency Communications from the President” sent to the managers of each department, while missives such as “The 30 Yamazen Management Strategies” were sent to all employees. The company began to withdraw from the real estate business, and began to work on a drastic reform of management and downsizing.
Yamazen enters the home products market
In order to expand the number of sales routes for the tools department in 1972, Yamazen began wholesaling items such as safes, steel shelves, and electrical tools, a move that became the catalyst for the birth of the predecessor “Special Sales Unit.” Subsequently, supported by the success of sales routes for retail distribution and the sudden emergence of DIY home centers, Yamazen set up the “Home Products Section” in 1978, and made a full-scale entry into the market. This was the beginning of what is now the Home Products division. In 1983-1984, original products developed jointly with the manufacturer, such as heated electric carpets, under-table heaters, and fans grew to become a mainstay product line for home centers.
Long-term management plan
The “Zeus Plan” begins
With the development of an information age centered on computers, and the rapid move towards internationalization, Yamazen became aware that its makeup and its reserves of strength were not necessarily sufficient to allow it to survive in a borderless world, and that it did not have a clear vision or plan for the coming era. The company subsequently initiated the 12-year “Zeus Plan” based on the two pillars of “rebuilding the structure of the trading area,” and “rebuilding the new internal structure,” as an idea of constructing a new company focused on the 21st century.
Deployment of Visual Identity (VI) Change in corporate emblem
With the move to a new management style leading to an expansion in the business domain, a committee driven primarily by younger employees was launched. Based on the data obtained by means of interviews, discussions and internal recruitment, the current logo was determined.
New “Management Philosophy” and “Yamazen Employee Code of Conduct” established
The year after the 50th anniversary of the company, a new Management Philosophy was established based on the idea of taking up the challenge to build a sounder, healthier Yamazen focused on the next 50 years. At the same time the “Yamazen Employee Code of Conduct” for determining the daily behavior of employees was decided, and this is still chanted in chorus at morning meetings every day.
“Yamazen Group Corporate Activity Charter” established
In order to promote activities that raise corporate value by fulfilling the social responsibilities of the company, Yamazen set out 10 principles of corporate activity to be obeyed.。
Establishes PROCUEbyNET CORPORATION
as joint venture with NICHIDEN Corporation
Yamazen established a company to operate the PROCUEbyNET portal site for electronic transactions between companies in the production equipment sector as a joint venture with NICHIDEN Corporation As an electronic procurement support site that provides back up for standardization and improvements in efficiency with regard to procurement of MRO products for use in front-line manufacturing in factories, it enables one-stop shopping for sales offices for a wide range of products from both companies. The number of items handled is one of the highest in Japan, at 7.7 million.
Start of “Green Ball Project”
Yamazen has begun an environmental business that aims to popularize and expand environmentally friendly technologies, such as solar panels and EcoCute, which are expected to have an impact in the fight against global warming, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions. The intention of the business is to grow “small ecological actions” represented by the purchase of individual items of ecologically friendly equipment, into “big ecological actions” by encouraging a variety of companies to participate.
Introduction of a divisional organization system
In order to respond to the dizzyingly rapid changes in markets, clarify business domains by products and services offered, and enable the company to provide integrated solutions and measures to customers as quickly as possible, Yamazen has introduced a divisional organization system to facilitate an agile and fast-moving business organization.
BCP established at Osaka head office
BCP = Business Continuity Plan
By analyzing in advance the impact and damage caused by potential threats such as natural disasters, and investigating and deploying countermeasures based on the results of this analysis, Yamazen has drawn up concrete plans of action that document information and various procedures in order to ensure business continuity in the event of such threats emerging.
Becomes first trading company to acquire “Resilience Certification”
Based on the guidelines established by the Cabinet Secretariat’s National Resilience Promotion Office, Yamazen became the first trading company to acquire Resilience Certification. The company has introduced BCP at major bases such as Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya, implemented periodic reviews and education and training of employees, and is working to strengthen the business continuity structure in times of emergency.
TOHO INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. becomes wholly owned subsidiary
TOHO INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. which offers an integrated flow from conceptual design to manufacturing in the area of robot systems integration, has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamazen. As a result, we aim to achieve further improvements to our systems integration function to help customers enhance their competitiveness, in terms of the need for automation and reductions in power usage at production sites.
Begins support for business succession at small and medium-sized enterprises
Yamazen is providing support to small and medium-sized enterprises and micro-businesses facing problems of business succession, in the areas of the nurturing of successors, the setting up of internal systems, and the inheritance of stocks and business assets. In our first such case, in October, we used a special purpose company to acquire the shares of ISHIHARA-GIKEN CO., LTD. which is involved in the design, manufacturing, installation and aftermarket maintenance of conveyor lines and equipment for reducing power and labor requirements. We will create a management environment aimed at achieving sustainable growth for the Yamazen Group.