We should be particular about products that we use every day
When you take a shower, are you worried things such as water pressure or water efficiency? In fact, your troubles can be solved by just changing the shower head. In an era of diversifying needs, we should be particular about choosing which shower head we use. There is a man that is trying to build a culture of everyone having their own shower head. That man is the Representative Director of Tanaka Metal Factory, Kazuhiro Tanaka. Tanaka says “we should be particular about the shower head we use because we use it every day”. “I’m worried about my skin so I want a soft feeling shower”. “I want to take a quick shower so I want high water pressure”. From his various hotel stays on business trips, Tanaka wondered about each shower experience. Wanting to have more water pressure, Tanaka began taking his own companies shower head with him to use on business trips. So Tanaka developed a micro nano-bubble shower head called “Ariamisto”. It has been in great demand since it “s product debut in 2011. Our company has staged a remarkable recovery due to the substantial orders from domestic and international customers. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
It all began by wanting to break the status quo.
Tanaka Metal factory is located in Yamagata Town, Gifu Prefecture, which is known as the birthplace of the faucet valve. Along with the growth of major faucet manufacturers, many subcontractors made their base in this mountain surrounded area such that they had about 40% of the domestic metal faucet shipments. Our company was one of those faucet valve subcontractors. However a fall in housing starts and more competition pushed the faucet industry into a sump. Due to the downturn, one of our major customers withdrew from that market in 2008. We then focused on developing our own products which lead to the development of the “Ariamisto” water-saving shower head. The birth of this product started from a meeting with a company/
The first step from subcontractor to manufacturer
One day, Tanaka had a meeting with a company that wanted to reduce its enormous water bill, but at that time, the water saving equipment available was extremely expensive. Tanaka began the water saving business because he thought if he could develop a high quality low cost water saving device, it would surely become a popular product. In 2003 he developed an adaptor that could be fitted to a conventional shower head. Instead of being a subcontractor, He wanted to trial this as being his own original product. That was due to the advice from a department chain Tokyu Hands suggesting he sell the product directly to the customer. So Tanaka incorporated the adapter into a complete shower head and so the “Ariamisto” water saving shower head was developed. It was put on sale in May 2005 but the “Ariamisto” was not as popular as he had anticipated. A huge turning point came in 2007 when he had the chance to sell the product on a T,V, shopping channel. The features of his shower head were well received and immediately the “Ariamisto” sales exploded selling as many as 15,000 shower heads in a single day. Tanaka laughs now when he remembers declaring sales would reach 1 billion units! But such good times didn’t last forever.
A long time faucet maker customer decided to manufacture their own product in house slashing the previous sales amounts. One misfortune followed another as an error by a vendor shut down their line halting production and cutting sales by one tenth. Tanaka was left standing on the brink of bankruptcy as his debt had ballooned to 80 million yen. To add insult to injury, the Development Department Manager resigned trapping him with nowhere to go.