Secrets of a Global Sports Wheelchair BrandOX Engineering Co., Ltd.
OX Engineering’s Sports Wheelchair
- OX Engineering is a Japanese manufacturer of wheelchairs used by top athletes competing in the Paralympic Games. This article explores the company's spirit to tackle challenges unaddressed by others.
“I want to create a wheelchair that I would personally want to ride”
The history of OX Engineering Co., Ltd. dates back to the establishment of a motorcycle shop by its founder Shigeyuki Ishii in 1976. Back then, Ishii had been competing in motorcycle racing as a racer while running his motorcycle business. However, in 1984, he damaged his spinal cord in an accident while test riding a motorcycle and had no choice but to use a wheelchair in daily life. Ishii tried several types of existing wheelchairs, but he wasn't satisfied with their function or design.Therefore, he launched his own project to manufacture a wheelchair that he would personally want to ride. Once the wheelchair was completed, it received high praises for its detailed precision, and this eventually led to the commercialization of the wheelchair. But the company was a late-starting manufacturer and needed to improve its brand recognition. Thus, Ishii planned to promote the company’s products in the field of sports wheelchair based on his past experience of doing motorsports. He thought that if customers realize that many of the top athletes are using OX Engineering's wheelchairs, then the brand would gain greater appeal and sales would increase.
Providing sports wheelchairs to the world’s top athletes
OX Engineering signed sponsorship deals with prominent athletes in sports for the physically challenged and supported their endeveours while gathering feedbacks on development and gathered user knowledge. Back in those days, most sports wheelchairs were manufactured overseas, and no manufacturers were able to closely meet the requests of Japanese athletes.
The company also designated talented athletes as ""support athletes"" to whom they provided their wheelchairs for free. The wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda and track and field athlete Masazumi Soejima used the company’s wheelchair and made great achievements in major world competitions. At the Rio Paralympic Games, OX Engineering's wheelchairs were used by a total of 18 Japanese athletes, in track and field, tennis, basketball, and triathlon, and one of the company’s employees accompanied the Japanese team as an official maintenance staff.
Currently, OX Engineering's sports wheelchairs are customized to carefully meet the detailed requests of top athletes down to millimeter scale, and these wheelchairs are manufactured at their head office in Chiba city. The company also receives orders from athletes overseas who are attracted to their wheelchair's functionality.
Tackling challenges the other companies won’t
OX Engineering’s wheelchairs for daily use are manufactured in Nagaoka city, Niigata Prefecture. The company have made progress in modular designs for parts used on daily wheelchairs, featuring easier repair and maintenance in addition to a broad selection of options and colors. In some cases, custom made wheelchairs by other companies can only be repaired by the craftsman who was in charge of the wheelchair, but OX Engineering’s wheelchair can be repaired just by replacing the parts.
OX Engineering has bolstered their presence in the wheelchair market through their brand power and business attitude to propose products that go one step beyond user expectations by sincerely listening to users voices. Many fans have high hopes for the company's spirit to tackle challenges that other companies won’t.
“The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo is a major goal, but we want to think beyond that, too” states Katsuyuki Ishii, CEO & President of OX Engineering. The company also sells a sports wheelchair for children called WeeGo. They developed WeeGo with the hope that children using wheelchairs will take interest in sports for disabled people. Some day in the future, children using WeeGo may make great achievements in future Paralympic Games.
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