The kendo maker Matsukan Kogyo which was founded in 111 years. It is a maker which developed a big hit bogu bag "Kanmuri" series. It is also known as the maker of baseball balls, judo, etc. We will deliver interviews not only for kendo but also episodes that started producing baseball balls, how to create new ideas, and the management story.
Matsukan kogyo Co.,Ltd.
President of Matsukan kogyo Shingo Ando
Born in 1974. After graduating from university, he studied in the United States for two years. Then he joined ASICS Corporation and involved in work products development and marketing of shoes. Joined Matsukan in 2003, Inaugurated as the president in 2009.
Why Kendo maker producing baseball?
-Well, why you producing baseball? Even you are famous Kendo maker.
Ando: Yes. Most people do not link kendo and baseball. Our company founded in the 1907 and its history is very long. it is the 111th anniversary in this year. We have been engaging in business before world war II , and in that history we became involved with baseball. Our baseball is called "pine ball" from English meaning "pine" .
After the World War Ⅱ, started producing baseball to protect craftsman.
Ando: Japan was a defeated country after the World War II. At that time, Budo was prohibited by the directive from GHQ. We thought that company craftsmen would get lost the jobs, then we decided to make baseball equipment to protect them.
-You started to make baseball materials to protect company craftsman.
Ando: That's right. At that time, we couldn’t get leather anywhere. Our company became a government-approved specific company, and began making globe and baseball balls. Nowadays, our company's share of the high school baseball of Kanto region is still 70-80 %.
-It is surprising for Kendo people that you making baseball for.
Ando: Actually, we had been a Nike's agency of Kanto area before. There wasn’t NIKE Japan yet at that time and we also produced gloves and spikes. Then, about 20 years ago, we decided to focus on making baseball.
Three major meanings that a kendo maker has directly owned stores
-You have 3 directly owned stores. When you open the stores, is there any opinion from your retailers?
Ando: There are other retail stores in Saitama prefecture. I thought that it was important that we received local evaluation and manage our company, we immediately opened a store. However, we also confirmed that the directly operated store only in Saitama prefecture and we do not have e-commerce business at that time. We have consented and have been doing this business since then.
-What is the advantage that you have own retail stores?
Ando: There are three. Firstly, makers should produce new products so it is important to decide discontinued products. If we don't have direct retail shop, it is not easy to find it. Since we have retail shop, we communicate with customers directly. Which contribute understand customer’s needs.
-It is important to decide what you do not do.
Ando: The second point is to spread our information. It’s like an antenna shop. Third point is when we do a wholesale business, information will only come through retailer. And retailers do not necessarily sell what we want to sell. For this reason, biasing of information is born. So, I wanted to create a place to listen to the opinions of the users directly.
-Is there any effect obtained by directly information from users?
Ando: I think that it is great that the consciousness throughout the entire employee that to catch customer needs.
Ideas rather that small profits and quick returns
Ando: Building relationships with the police people in particular. I will carry out the product offering to them, receive feedback, and make better products.
-It is a best way to develop your own line, it’s good way to build a relationship with top players.
Ando: I wanted to take advantage of the brand image of Matsukan, not the line of selling cheaply. While keeping the image that is not cheap but good quality, I wanted to shift to the place where is have unique, easy to use, then our own line was finished. In the past 10 years that young people also recognized the awareness of <Matsukan> through "Kanmuri", "Katsujin", and "Hirameki" lines.
-I think it’s clear your product’s strength.
Ando: The wholesale price is easy to handle, and the user wants products. It was born in the Hirameki series. The awareness is still low, but in fact one third of the players participating in the All Japan Championship are using it.
Ando:There are many makers which sell cheaply. So we want to develop products more attractive.
ーwe could not listen normally, we got a precious management story of the kendo maker. Thank you for today.