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Hagihara Industries Inc.

Patrick, Hugh T.

I visited Hagihara Industries in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, in April 2013, finding a fascinating, highly specialized textile company. The company was founded in 1892, when Fuichi Hagihara entered the tatami (Japanese floor mat) business. In 1946, his son Fuichi Hagihara II entered the company, and in the 1950s invented a very thin polyester monofilament called “flat yarn” to replace the cotton thread holding the mat reeds together. In 1962, the son established Hagihara Industries to produce flat yarn based on equipment he developed and built. Today, the company – still managed by the Hagihara family – produces a wide range of products for industrial uses based on flat yarn. It has two divisions: the synthetic resinprocessed product division makes and sells processed synthetic-resin related products based on flat yarn, and comprises about three-quarters of sales; and the machinery product division designs, manufactures, and sells automation equipment such as slit and winder machinery, a quarter of sales. Its two main strengths are its commitment to innovation and maintenance of a strong corporate culture, emphasizing quality, close working relationships, interdependence, and a widespread feeling of ownership by the workers. Hagihara Industries is an example of a Japanese small listed enterprise that manufactures niche products for broad markets, as distinguished from small- and medium-sized enterprises that sell most of their output to a dominant customer. From tatami to high-tech synthetic-fiber products, the company has woven a history of innovation.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Publisher
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia University
Series
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Occasional Papers, 63
Published Here
August 8, 2013
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