We Discovered a Trove of Hints and Stimulation by Exhibiting at the New Value Creation Exhibition.
It Helps Us Become a Development-Type Company That Creates Innovative ProductsKoeisha & Co., Ltd.
Koeisha & Co., Ltd. is a manufacturer of oral care products with many years of exhibiting history at the New Value Creation Exhibition. It considers exhibiting at the New Value Creation Exhibition a significant factor to transform its corporate structure by pursuing unique business areas, and meeting other highly motivated exhibitors.
Koeisha is a long-standing manufacturer of oral care products that has recently celebrated its 100th-year centennial anniversary in January 2017. We interviewed the company’s Chairman, Osamu Inaba.
Kawachinagano city in Osaka Prefecture, where Koeisha is located, boasted a major share of toothpick manufacturing and it was so to speak the world’s toothpick factory through the Showa era (ending in 1989).
“But others in the industry moved all of their production to China around when entering the Heisei era. Now, 95-96% of domestically sold toothpicks is most likely manufactured overseas. This is a sad result, but we have been able to continue our business because we have been making specialized toothpicks,” explains Mr. Inaba
The toothpick with a triangular plane is the epitome of this “specialized toothpick,” produced by the company for over 50 years.
Mr. Inaba states, “The circular toothpicks which are mainstream in Japan are in reality ‘cooking toothpicks’ to stick into food. Triangular toothpicks are used for teeth in North Europe consisting of advanced countries in oral care, because the gap between teeth is triangular. We want to spread this in Japan, but we have struggled to sell it due to the resilient fixed idea that ‘toothpicks are round.’ We therefore decided to develop oral care products that are not widely used, and we first started developing an interdental brush. Today, these brushes have become quite popular. We create products like this that are yet to be on the market starting from developing the machines for it.
The most representative of the company’s hit product is the Dental Peeling Sponge
Mr. Inaba says, “This sponge cleans the colored stains on teeth without damaging them. It’s a very popular product among dental clinics, too. It’s similar to a melamine sponge used in cleaning, but it has undergone rigorous safety considerations by conducting a special processing to the melamine foam.”
Contributing to the world through dental and oral health
Dental Peeling Sponge is now being used by a large number of people. However, Mr. Inaba is not content with the hit.
He says, “We have mainly worked for dental health, but there is still a tendency in Japan for products that focus on appearance to sell better. I think there is a low awareness of the importance of teeth. I hope to raise the awareness of people about dental health from a young age, and help them care for their teeth easily, and as a result create a society where everyone can eat delicious food to the end of their lives. I hope to be of help toward this end.”
True to these words, the company has released many unique and functional care products such as a tool for cleaning the tongue coat without damaging the tongue or teeth, and a toothbrush that treats specifically for the tooth in the very back, which is often lost first due to the difficulty of cleaning it.
The attraction is the stimulation among creative exhibitors
Koeisha has exhibited at New Value Creation Exhibition for many years going back to when it was still called the Japan International SME Exhibition. Mr. Inaba shared that exhibiting even leads to a change in the company’s structure.
He says, “Exhibiting at the New Value Creation Exhibition means to create something highly original. It means to develop a unique business area not tapped into by other companies. By doing so, the company's personality changes, turning it into a development-oriented company. When actually exhibiting, we encounter many other companies thinking the same way, so it stimulates us, giving us great inspiration.”
Mr. Inaba explains that appealing to visitors is important, but he also finds great significance in achieving connections with unique exhibitors.
He says, “We get many product development hints, and we’ve also met companies at the exhibition that give us business. These connections last for a long time. Fellow exhibitors are full of people driven for unique things.”
Rigorously pursuing one’s own field
“SMEs are currently called upon to create new things that don’t exist in the world and connecting that to vitalize our society. I think that any company can definitely create things that are helpful to society as long as it thoroughly pursues new ideas in its own field. I always appeal to others that ‘if we can do it with toothpicks, then you can do it in any kind of business!’,” says Mr. Inaba, ending the interview with a comical tone.
His deep pursuit of the small world of the mouth, and his unequaled joy in creating new things left a strong impression on us.
We were established in 1917. We developed triangular toothpicks in 1960 and exported them to Europe. In 1988 we developed an interdental toothbrush production machine at the request of a dentist. In 2000 we developed a tongue cleaner that doesn't injure the tongue. In 2008 we developed our own sponge for removing stains on teeth. In 2012 we developed a toothbrush specially for back teeth. All manufacturing and processing machinery were developed in-house.
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