Established in 1598 as a wholesale dealer of cotton at Iida city, Nagano, Japan.
Great Fire in Iida
On April 20, 1947, while the Nohara family was under the leadership of the thirteenth-generation heir Koichi Nohara, a great fire broke out in Iida City, the location of the the Watahan and Nohara general partnership. The fire almost completely consumed the center of the city.
With only a small part of the Watahan storehouse surviving, the fire motivated Koichi, then 62 years old, to declare that he would transfer the reins of the business to his 32-year-old nephew Tatsuya (the first company president) and 28-year-old firstborn son Kokichi (the second company president).
Although the announcement took the two young men by surprise, they began the work of reconstructing the business from the charred rubble, keeping Koichi's words in mind: "Starting today, I leave you two in charge of Watahan. Do your best to work together. Don't forget the reputation that Watahan has built."
A Popsicle in Summer
What kind of business could be launched immediately in a city devastated by a massive fire? Why, Popsicles of course!
Tatsuya and Kokichi purchased a plot of land measuring about 130 square meters, and built a two-story barracks on it. After buying a state-of-the-art large-size refrigerating machine, they opened a café called "Alaska."
As its popularity grew, they loaded wooden cases of Popsicles onto bicycles and walked all over the city to sell them in places like parks and baseball fields.
Thanks to the strong initiative of the two young owners and their employees, sales of "Alaska" boomed. Within a single summer, they were able to redeem the cost of the refrigerating machine and even make an operating profit.
Tatsuya and Kokichi would later build on this success to leave Iida and finally make moves toward the establishment of a new company in Tokyo.
Nohara is founded in Odawara-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo with ¥195,000 of capital.
"New employees become shareholders"
At the end of the summer, Tatsuya and Kokichi shut down the Popsicle shop and sold the refrigerating machine to generate capital.
Nohara Corporation was born in Tokyo on September 11, 1947.
Tatsuya and Kokichi filled all the other positions on the board of the company with employees of the former shop in Iida, rather than their own relatives.
Having broken away from private management, they expanded their capital more and more until it had increased tenfold within just a year.
Meanwhile, they also implemented an "employee shareholder system" by putting aside 20% of each employee's monthly wages toward the acquisition of company stock.
Nohara's management philosophy of making the best use of human resources and always working together with employees to protect and grow "their own" company served as the foundation for building the massive Watahan and Nohara business groups within a single generation. That core remains unchanged to this day.
"If you can make it three years at Nohara, you'll be successful anywhere." The rigor of the work and strict discipline at Nohara were apparently legendary.
The company put great effort into its mimeographed guides for young employees.
With principles such as "Salesmanship," "28 Rules for Out-of-Store Sales," "The Rational Method and Tips for Collection of Receivables," and "Working Guidelines for Female Employees," Nohara's comprehensive human-resource development characterized by a tough work ethic but fairness and respect toward individuals was reflected in its public reputation.
Iida Office is spun off, establishing Watahan Dotetsu Hardware Store Co., Ltd.
Headquarters are moved to Shintomi-cho in Chuo-ku, Tokyo.
Duro-Test Fluorescent Bulbs
From 1951 to 1953, Nohara intensively sold fluorescent bulbs manufactured by the US-based Duro-Test Corporation, known as "the brightest and longest-lasting in the world."
This was an era when there was considerable variation among domestic goods, so by publicizing the top-ranking quality of the bulbs, the obscure startup company was able to deliver sales results strong enough to threaten major domestic manufacturers.
However, once the company decided to venture beyond mere acquisition of domestic distribution rights and into production and sales in Japan, it experienced the economic climate of tight controls on imports that characterized the postwar economic recovery period, as well as large companies' power to crush small and medium-sized dealers.
Standing at its single most critical juncture, Nohara made the decision to focus on its primary business, construction materials.
Signing a distributor agreement with Nozawa Asbestos Cement Co.
(present Nozawa Corporation) gives the company a foothold in the building materials sales business in addition to the existing line of products such as bolts.
Volunteerism and the Birth of the Ryukyo Foundation
The founders received many requests from their hometown of Iida City to serve in social positions. However, they firmly declined those requests based on the Nohara family's teaching passed down over generations— "Reject all positions, and devote yourself to your primary business."
Nonetheless, they were enthusiastic about welfare targeting the local community. In 1953, a time when the concept of "volunteerism" was not yet entrenched, they launched the Ryukyo Foundation even as the emerging company was still busy trying to secure funds.
Nagoya Branch opens.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, new synthetic resin construction materials such as plastic pipes and corrugated panels emerged in addition to iron and cement.
Around this time, the Matsumoto branch received an offer to partner in the sale of a smokeless furnace. It was a patented product that provided better thermal efficiency and produced less smoke than existing ones.
Showcasing this unique product, Nohara Corporation searched for well-financed, reputable hardware stores throughout the region and actively demonstrated it.
These demonstrations spread steadily but consistently, establishing footholds for business relationships with prestigious local stores.
In other words, Nohara Corporation was able to sell in-demand products such as new construction materials through these newly created routes, leading to tremendous growth in sales.
Headquarters are moved to Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.
"Fuji Lights," invented and produced by the "Fuji Reflection Institute," is dealt.
During the late 1950s, road traffic improvement projects were stepped up as the era of privately owned cars steadily approached.
"Fuji Lights" was reflective sheeting capable of reflecting light like a mirror. It drew attention as a domestic product that could rival "Scotchlite" manufactured by the US-based 3M. In 1958, Nohara Corporation began handling the product on a full scale, with the catchphrase "Fuji Lights shine all day and night."
This product marked Nohara Corporation's first entry into road signage, a brand-new field outside its traditional domain of construction materials.
Concrete Product Division is spun off, establishing Nohara Concrete Industry Co., Ltd.
Road Sign Division is spun off, establishing Fuji Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
The dealership is made with Yoshino Gypsum Co., Ltd., Asano Concrete Co., Ltd. and Tajima Ohyohkakoh Co., Ltd. Trading of construction material starts as major business domain.
Osaka Branch opens.
Fuji Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., a group company, is merged.
Nohara Concrete Industry Co., Ltd., a group company, is merged.
Chiba Office (present Higashi-Kanto Sales Office) opens.
Omiya Office (present Kita-Kanto Branch) opens.
Nozaki Seisakusho, a group company, is merged.
Capital is increased to ¥100 million.
Capital is increased to ¥200 million.
Yokohama Office is upgraded to Yokohama Branch.
Tama Office (present Nishi-Kanto Branch) opens.
Capital is increased to ¥330 million.
Sendai Office opens.
Sendai factory is completed. Sendai Office is moved to the newly completed building and upgraded Tohoku Branch.
Nohara Cement Sales Co., Ltd. is established.
Fukuoka Sales Office opens.
The Sagamihara Steel Factory and Sagamihara Office (present Kanagawa Factory of Nohara Steel Co., Ltd.) open.
Capital is increased to ¥430 million.
Hiroshima Sales Office opens.
Shizuoka Sales Office opens.
Okayama Sales Office opens.
Kobe Sales Office opens.
Yatsugatake Sports Center (present Yatsugatake Training Institute) opens.
Hokuriku Sales Office opens.
Hiroshima Sales Office is moved to the newly completed Hiroshima Nohara Building.
Sapporo Sales Office and Takamatsu Sales Office open.
Minami-Kyushu Sales Office opens.
Yatsugatake Training Institute is completed.
Nagano Sales Office opens.
Koriyama Sales Office and Chiba Sales Office open.
Nasu Factory is completed.
Kobashi Co., Ltd. becomes a subsidiary and is renamed Nohara Ekujin Co., Ltd.
Capital is increased to ¥612.1 million.
Nishi-Kanto Branch and Kita-Kanto Branch are registered.
Niigata Sales Office opens.
Fit Real Estate Co., Ltd. is established.
Shonan Office is moved to Atsugi-city, Kanagawa and is renamed as Kanagawa Central Office.
Plast Co., Ltd. becomes a subsidiary and renamed Nohara Plast Co., Ltd. (present Nohara Steel Co., Ltd.)
Headquarters are moved to Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.
Shinei Kogyo Co., Ltd. becomes a subsidiary and renamed Arc Saitama Co., Ltd. (present Arc Nohara Co., Ltd.)
ISO9001 certification is obtained at headquarters.
Arc Saitama Co., Ltd. is renamed Arc Nohara Co., Ltd.
Arc Nohara takes over construction business of Landscape Engineering Division.
Shuko Japan Co., Ltd. is established.
ISO9001 certification is obtained at Nasu Factory.
Nohara Ekujin Co., Ltd., a subsidiary, is merged.
Utsunomiya Sales Office opens.
Takasaki Sales Office opens.
Nittobo Materials Co., Ltd. becomes a subsidiary. Business alliance is made with Nitto Boseki Co., Ltd.
Nohara Plast Co., Ltd. is renamed Nohara Steel Co., Ltd.
Nohara Workplace Co., Ltd. is established in Shenyang, China.
CAL Co., Ltd. becomes a subsidiary.
NOHARA (SHANGHAI) TRADING CO., LTD. is established in Shanghai, China.
Nohara Engineering Co., Ltd. is established.
Nohara International Pte. Ltd. is established.
Nohara Engineering takes over construction business.
Patia 1st shop opens.
Sanei Sangyou becomed a subsidiary.
PT.NOHARA ALTA INDONESIA is established.
Nohara Trading and Services Indea Pvt. Ltd. is established.
Nohara Living Environment, Inc. is established.
Nohara Holdings, Inc. is established.
GOOD DESIGN STORE TOKYO by NOHARA opens.