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Information on the founder Akira MABUCHI

History of the Corporate Creed “Gratitude to the past, Confidence in the present, and Hope for the future”

The founder: Akira MABUCHI

The founder, Akira Mabuchi, was born in 1925 as the third son of seven brothers and sisters of Family Urushido, in Tatsuno town. Having spent 83 years with the company, he always valued his family and people around him. His parents passed away when he was 11 years old, and inevitably his adolescence was filled with lots of difficulties both physically and mentally. Probably, owing to such a background, he talked very often to other people “Warm thanks are important”, “We are just beings kept alive”, and “What the meaning of Love or Prayer is”, and so on.
The man of spiritual seeking, with his life of resolute will, having stood his ground to aim at the corporate vision without any disarray. He placed much value on the dignity and principles of the company, and eventually established the company, Mabuchi, as it is now. The philosophy of the founder is still alive up to now, and the mind of “Humans are the company’s core” and the spirit of having respect for principles of the company are everlasting, as far as Mabuchi keeps on going.

Dedicated Engineer

Going out every day for his sales work and potential business search as well, Akira Mabuchi, who was a born engineer, understood on his own how lapping emery and diamond pellets physically act on a lens material, how their way of use is, and what the key points are in the method of tool manufacturing. Then, he enthusiastically explained those technical problems to the customers and business partners. Since his understanding was so much comprehensive that even sales staff members of tool manufacturers sometimes admitted that his understanding was far better than theirs.

Corporate Manager & Chorus Master

Akira Mabuchi Conducting

Akira was a member of a chorus group when he was in Nagoya before the War. Then, after returning to his hometown, Tatsuno, in 1947, he started the town’s chorus group, together with other members of the youth club of the town at an opportunity of an autumn festival. For 40 years after returning to the hometown, he continued both activities as a corporate manager and a chorus master.
His pet theory was “From the viewpoint of the pursuit of something better and something beautiful, corporate management and playing music are similar to each other. In both the cases, what we should have there are a harmony of people and a harmony of voice.” When an organization of chorus groups of Nagano prefecture was established in 1959, he also made great efforts to unify chorus groups of the prefecture.

History of Mabuchi Trade House to Mabuchi S&T

Start of Mabuchi Trade House

Family Mabuchi at the Start of Business

In the midst of the Pacific War, Family Mabuchi lived in Nagoya, and lost their house there in an air raid. The family evacuated to Nagano prefecture, looking to their relatives for support. When the war ended, they started again their life from scratch with their best efforts, despite having various difficulties.
Kanzo, Akira’s father in law, restarted selling home-use pigment as a small business by an evacuated family, and meanwhile his daughter, Sumiko, did a dressmaking job in order to earn their bread and butter. However, their earnings were far from enough. So, the family wanted to do something new suitable for the new generation after the war, but they were just worried about the future in vain for a while.

Akira Mabuchi in those days of starting the business

Having married Sumiko, Akira entered her Mabuchi family as an adopted person. “He was a type of scholarly person who did not pay attention to money, thinking and saying with all his heart that people could still live even with nothing but human love.” Sumiko says, remembering the past. Sumiko worrying about doing something for the family’s daily life, and Akira being stubborn about his own thought; they spent their days with a lot of quarrels.
In the meantime around 1950, a cousin of Yoshiko, Kazo’s wife, sent some goods from Tokyo, which the cousin thought to be usable by chance in Nagano. That was something like sands. At first, Akira and Sumiko had no idea about what the sands were. When they realized that the sands were something to be used for polishing lenses, they eventually opened a door to the optical industry and started their small trade house named “Mabuchi Shohten (meaning a shop in Japanese).”

Early Days in “3-Chome” Mabuchi Shohten in Family Mabuchi

Signboard of Early Days

Above the entrance of the home of Family Mabuchi located at Main Street ‘3-Chome (Third block)’, a brand-new signboard of “Trade House Mabuchi Shohten” was placed proudly. However, in fact, there was a trade house renting a room from the family with seven family members; i.e., Akira, Sumiko, Kanzo, Yoshiko, Hirotaro (the first son, a junior high-school student), Takako and Tsutomu (the daughter and the second son, both grade-school pupils). The office had only a minimum amount of furniture, one compact car, and a two-wheeled cart only. Children’s voice easily reached the office, which was actually not like an office. Nevertheless, the office was filled with a lot of energy and hope of the two toward the future.

A Young Newcomer

Approximately in 10 years after Akira and Sumiko started their business, a young man became an employee of Mabuchi. He was K. Watanabe (Later, a senior managing director) who had business experience with a trading company in Okaya, and wanted to try his ability in the trade house, Mabuchi Shohten. With the new member coming in from the outside, the trade house changed its atmosphere of a small family business. Making use of his business experience, Kanzo also started playing a role of a person in accounting. Accordingly, the business territory of the trade house expanded beyond the boarder of Tatsuno town to Ina and Okaya as well.

Expanding Sales: From Domestic Business to Overseas Market

Old Headquarters Building (Completion in 1982)

Around 1974, OLYMPUS opened their new factory in Aizu-wakamatsu. Then, taking an opportunity of frequently visiting Aizu on business trips to OLYMPUS factory there, Mabuchi started their business in Niigata, as well as Tochigi that lately acted as a foothold for business expansion in Kantoh area. From there, Mabuchi’s business further expanded in all Tohoku area, and eventually into the whole area of Japan.
While the business territory of Mabuchi was expanding in various areas, the number of merchandize items they handled also increased. Then, the time of overseas business came up. For Hirotaro (Chairman at present) who entered the trade house with his hope for working in the global market sometime, that was a great new step toward his dream.
Overseas marketing started around 1973 to 1974. At a chance of visiting YASHICA (Currently, KYOCERA ) located in Okaya, Mabuchi left some brochures of the metal polishing material “Skid” for the good of YASHICA, Hong Kong. Then, lately by good luck, Mabuchi received a call from the overseas customer, saying that they wanted to see the product.

Completion of Circular Sphere-centering Lens Polishing Machine Open of New Generation

Circular Sphere-centering Lens Polishing Machine

At the time, Watanabe thought that he should demonstrate some advantages through actually polishing lenses. Then, he rented one of small local factories for his improvement work. In the factory only provided with a lathe, a water supply, and a power line, he placed a prototype machine, and through learning by imitation, he started polishing lenses that he got from a neighboring lens machining firm.
Though the mechanism of the single-piece polishing is already interpreted to a certain extent at present, multiple-piece polishing was much more common at the time, and therefore it seemed very difficult to reach a satisfactory result with polishing convex lenses. However, after tackling various difficulties and solving a lot of problems, his great efforts eventually paid off to complete an extraordinary Sphere-centering Polishing Machine of the pressurizing type.