7 December 2022

Takara Belmont: Growth and Diversification

This third in a series of 5 articles about the history and evolution of the Takara Belmont brand commemorates another period of growth, development and success.

Takara Belmont celebrated its 100th Anniversary on October 5, 2021, just about one year ago. How does a company start with so little and become a renowned global giant in salon, spa, and dental & medical design? Indeed, over the past century Takara Belmont has survived wars and even overcome multiple natural disasters, only to make a remarkable comeback.

BETTERING BARBERING CHAIRS AND MORE

Following some initial setbacks, Takara Company New York was established in 1956. Indeed, the company had gained a solid foothold in the market in response to their debut at the “International Trade Fair” held in Seattle in 1955.

Encouraged by this breakthrough, Takara set out on further technological innovations. Indeed, a year later Takara began mass-production of a barber chair (No. 57) that used a hydraulic pump. The chair was a huge hit. Soon after, the company achieved a production rate of 2,000 chairs per month.

In 1956, Hidenobu Yoshikawa, the founder of Takara Belmont, was appointed president of Japan Enamel Co., Ltd. (now Takara Standard Co., Ltd.), a prestigious company in the Japanese enamel industry whose business was deteriorating. It was decided to rebuild and reorganize. As a result, Takara entered the housing equipment field. In 1962, he released Japan’s first enamel sink. Always true to their origins, 1962 also saw the launch of the world’s first barber chair (No. 808) equipped with an electrical lift pump. Another outstanding success.

Then in 1965, Takara was presented yet another opportunity for diversification. The company branched into hair care products with the signing of a cosmetic import and sales agreement with the German company Wella. Hence the establishment of the Wella Operations Division. (This business partnership was eventually dissolved in 1976.)

DENTAL CHAIRS: A LOGICAL EVOLUTION

Perhaps it should be mentioned that, during the Middle Ages, barbers doubled as physicians, even performing surgery on customers, as well as tooth extractions. During such interventions it would be advisable for both the patient and the physician to be as ergonomically comfortable as possible. Step in Takara with their own dental chairs. After conducting surveys of America’s dental market, Takara exhibited a dental chair at the dental show in Miami in 1968. This marked the launch of the company’s dental business in the United States.

The following year, Takara acquired renowned American barber chair manufacturer Koken, Incorporated (now Koken Manufacturing Company Inc.), making Takara the top manufacturer in America’s barber chair market.

Takara Isu Hanbai Corporation merged with Takara Chuko Ltd. and Takara Belmont Corporation was established. Then, in 1969, Takara Belmont USA, Inc. headquarters moved to Somerset, NJ, where it can still be found today.

CONTINUED DIVERSIFICATION AND INNOVATION

The Takara Beautilion at EXPO’70 (Japan World Exposition, Osaka 1970) was another huge success, highlighting the incredible potential of salon and spa design. This led to the company’s later collaborations with many world-famous designers.

Over the next decade, Takara Belmont continued with its ventures into barbering, dental, medical, hairdressing, cosmetics, and spa and beauty equipment and innovations. Some of these specific products will be featured in our forthcoming article. Watch this space!

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