Story of The Founder

Founder Tamaki Sakamoto was involved in the forestry industry after graduating middle school. He was transporting trees cut in the mountains. Back in those days it was all transported by using horse, but finally he bought a truck and was also helping with all sorts of hauling needs. One day, looking up in the blue skies, he thought to himself. “Is this really what I want to do?” This is when he reached out to his brother in law for some advice to ask “Do you know of anything interesting?” At the time, his brother in law, thru a colleague from the same village, had been working at busy company in Himeji city called “Taiyo Golf”

Customers from Tokyo would actually hand carry their pre-payment funds and a gift to the craftsmen to beg them to make clubs for them. It was that kind of time.

Tamaki’s brother in law thought it would be really beneficial to learn this technique and worked really hard to become a craftsman. That is when his brother in law, Tamaki came to him for advice. This is also when the two of them said “Let’s start up our own golf equipment company!!“ and thus started “Kyoei Golf Equipment Manufacturing.”

Tamaki’s brother in law would grind the heads and Tamaki would go sell them and initial funding came from Tamaki’s oldest brother.

One day, when Tamaki was on a sales trip to Nagoya area, he was asked by a client

“we want you to make something extraordinary.” He took back the request to his brother in law and had him change the shape a bit, and when he revisited the client, they were ecstatic! This client was Akagi Golf. There was also a company called Nitto Sports in Osaka. It took Tamaki 6 Months just to meet with the president of Nitto but when he finally was given the opportunity to show their iron head to him, he started to tell him “this is bad” “that is not good” and put difficult requests to Tamaki.

After making all requested modifications, they would revisit Nitto but again they would find things that needed to be changed. After several rounds, they were finally able to deliver a design that Nitto was satisfied with. Then Tamaki asked Nitto “How much would you pay for something like this?“ Nitto’s president then mentions “I feel no passion/spirit in this product!”

Tamaki’s brother in law who was responsible for the manufacturing really thought hard to try and figure out “How do I implement spirit & passion in our products?” But he also mentioned that Nitto Sports’ president taught him something important in life. He taught that one must never be self conceited and should always maintain devotion.

創業者 坂本環のものがたり

創業者・坂本環は中学を卒業して林業に携わっていた。山から切った木を運んでいた。当時は馬力だったが、やっとトラックを買って、運送業のようなことをしていた。ある日、青い空を見上げて「このままでいいのか・・・」と思ったのだ。そこで義理の兄に「何か面白いことはないか」と相談に行ったのだった。その義兄は当時同じ村の先輩に請われて姫路で忙しい「太陽ゴルフ」というところで仕事をしていた、東京から客人が前金と職人への土産も持って、どうぞ作ってください、と言ってくるような、そんな時代であった。この技術を習ったら得だ、と思った環の義兄は必死で修行して職人になった。そこへ弟が相談に来たのだった。では、兄弟でゴルフの会社をつくるか!というので始めたのが共栄ゴルフ器具製作所であった。兄の削ったヘッドを弟が営業してくるスタイルで、資金は環の一番上の兄が出してくれた。あるとき、環が名古屋方面に営業に行くと、「何か変わったもの作ってくれ」と言われたので、その話を持ち帰り義兄に相談し少し形を変えてヘッドを造り再度訪問すると大変喜ばれたそうである。赤木ゴルフであった。また、大阪に日東スポーツという会社があった。日東の社長に会うまでに半年かかり、やっと会うこと叶いヘッドを見せると、「ここがあかん」、「あそこがあかん」と、無理難題を言う。言われたとおりにやり直して持って行くとまた今度は「ここがだめ」と無理難題を吹っ掛けられる。それでも全部その通りにつくりなおしてやっと文句の付けどころのないヘッドを完成させた。「何ぼやったらこうてくれる?」すると、日東の社長は最後に「魂がはいっとらん」と言われた。製造を担当した義兄は「魂ってどうやっていれるんや」と悩んだと言う。しかし、日東スポーツの社長は人生の師匠だった、とも聞いた。慢心をしたらいけない、毎日精進するということを教えられた、と。共栄のヘッドにはこの遺伝子がある。「魂ってどうやったらはいるんや?」と悩んだ遺伝子が共栄製のヘッドにはある。魂の入れ方は職人によって違うかもしれない。でも共栄のヘッドには確かに魂がはいっている。そうでなければ、あんなに美しいヘッドにはならない。

 

The genetics of “How do I implement spirit & passion in our products?” are inherited in Kyoei heads. The approach in which passion are implemented in their products may differ from one craftsman to another, but for sure, passion is inside each Kyoei head. We would not have such beautiful head unless that is true.

That is the story of how Kyoei started. Initially we used Stainless Steel. We polished stainless steel to finish our heads. Since Stainless Steel does not rust, we did not plate our heads. However, when we first saw a head made in America, we were shocked at how beautiful a finish they had. American made heads were made of Soft Carbon Steel and had plated finish. Since then, Kyoei also started to forge their heads in house and later invested in plating equipment. All of this was because of Tamaki’s goal of “Manufacturing the best head in Japan” He strongly believed that in order to produce good heads they needed to do their own forging and not just grinding. To produce good heads, they needed to do their own plating. But plating was a bit of a challenge. After the Tokyo Olympics, the golf industry experienced a big boost and came along a wave of technological innovations.

When the mass production era arrived, due to numerous limitations with forged manufacturing, we had to lean on lost-wax casting methods.

As a company that roots back to its forging capabilities, Kyoei was heavily impacted by these changes at the time, but with the assistance and technical guidance from Spalding U.S. , Kyoei was able to survive the times by contributing to the revival of the legendary Spalding Top Flite Synchro-Dyned Professional (AKA in Japan “Black Top”) model. In 1995, they were finally able to complete their in house plating facility.

This is when Kyoei became a one stop manufacturing company. Kyoei is still the only company in Japan with full forging to plating process capabilities.

そうやって始まった共栄の歴史である。最初はステンレスが材料だった。ステンレスを磨いて仕上げていた。さびないからめっきはしていなかった。しかし初めてアメリカ製のヘッドを見たときに、なんと美しい仕上がりだと驚いたという。アメリカ製のヘッドは軟鉄素材で、めっきが施されていたのだ。その後共栄でも鍛造を自社でするようになり、またのちにはめっきの設備を持つようになった。すべては環の「日本一のヘッドを造る」という決意のもとのことであった。いいヘッドにするためには研磨だけではなく鍛造も自社でしたい。いいヘッドを造るためには、めっきも自社でしなくては。との強い思いがあったのだ。しかしめっきは難しかった。オリンピック開催を挟んでゴルフ産業が飛躍し、そのうち、技術革新の波も押し寄せた。大量生産の時代がくると、鍛造製は制約が多く、どうしてもロストワックス製法に傾いていった。鍛造にこだわった共栄は時代に押し流されそうになりながらも、米国からスポルデイング社の技術指導が入ることによって生き残ることができたのだった。名器黒トップの復活に貢献したのである。そしてその後1995年念願のめっき設備を持つことができた。これで共栄の一貫生産体制が整ったのだった。このヘッド一貫生産体制は国内ここだけである。

 

The founder Tamaki Sakamoto worked in forestry after middle school and later founded Kyoei Golf. Kyoei Golf has led the industry development movement as a pioneer within the Harima region (currently known as Hyogo prefecture)

Golf is an imported sport from the western world but Tamaki was not necessarily good at English. Here’s a story. As he landed at an airport in America, there was no one to pick him up. He waited and waited… but not for long. Eventually he ran to a phone booth and started making calls stating from the first page of the phone directory!

“Moshi Moshi” he would speak in Japanese. ?? He was hung up on many calls before a person on the other end finally responded – in Japanese! Tamaki got a hold of someone who speaks Japanese. This is a show of his willingness and vitality to go and explore a brand new market. Quick thinking, courage and persistency. These are the founder’s strength in communicating.

PGA Merchandise Show – the biggest golf industry show in the world. Tamaki took a few of his heads wrapped up in a “Furoshiki” wrapper (Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth) and showed them at the PGA show. “What do you think?” Even if he could not speak the language, they can see the quality in his products. This is how he gradually made Kyoei forged irons known in the U.S.

After several years of visiting the show, he discovers “Cavity Back” irons for the first time. “ Yup, I am going to produce forged Cavity Backs” No one believed that he would be able to produce such thing. People around him said “it’s not possible” ” Don’t do it”… but Tamaki did not give up. Eventually, he succeeds in creating Japan’s first Forged Cavity Back irons. The now popular Forged Cavity Backs are a result of Tamaki’s passion. In more recent years, people would call him “Mister Forged” at the PGA show.

“Challenges of today” may be “gifts” from the future.

When time and effort are relentlessly spent in overcoming those challenges, there will be scenery never before seen by anyone else. Perhaps the my future being knows this and is possibly providing me with these challenges?

Pioneers of an industry are people who can make way for others to follow. They are also the ones to face the most challenges. But Kyoei will remain being that pioneer.

“Facing the challenges” is inherent within Kyoei’s DNA

創業者・坂本環は中学を卒業して林業に携わり、その後共栄ゴルフを創業した。播磨の地場産業のパイオニアとなって業界をけん引してきた。ゴルフは舶来のスポーツであるが、環は英語ができるわけではなかった。こんなエピソードがある。
アメリカの空港に降り立ったものの、迎えが来ない、ということがあった。待てど暮らせど迎えは来ず、途方にくれた。ただじっと迎えを待ったのだろうか?
いやいや、そんなことは無かった。公衆電話ボックスに飛び込み、電話帳の一番上から、片っ端から電話をかけた。「もしもし。もしもし。」
環は「もしもし」しか言わない、言えない。相手には「?」「ガチャン」と切られる。それを繰り返し、
やっとのことで「もしもし」と返してくる人に当たった!日本語を話せる人を捕まえたわけだ!
たった一人で、市場を切り開くバイタリテイとはこういうことだ。咄嗟の気転と度胸と粘り。これが創業者のコミュニケーション能力である。
世界最大のゴルフ業界の展示会PGAマーチャンダイズショウ。環は風呂敷に自社で製造したアイアンを詰め込みアメリカに行って、ショウの軒先で風呂敷を広げた。「どうや。」言葉ができなくても品質はわかる。そうやって少しずつ、共栄の鍛造アイアンを浸透させていった。
何年か視察を続けるなかで、「キャビテイバック」を初めてショウで目にする。「よし、これを鍛造で作ろう」しかし、誰もそのようなことを実現できるとは思ってはいなかった。周りの反応は「できる筈がない。」「やめておけ」だった。環は諦めなかった。そして日本で、初めて、キャビテイバックの鍛造を作り上げる。今や常識となった鍛造キャビテイは、環の情熱から生まれたものだ。
そして晩年には、PGAショウに行くと「ミスターフォージド」と呼びとめられるくらいになったのである。
「困難」とは未来からのギフトかもしれない。今、その困難に一生懸命に取り組み克服すれば、困難を超えたのちには、だれもみたことの無い景色を見ることができる。
「未来の自分」がそれを解った上で、「今の自分」に困難を「与えて」いるのではないか。
業界のパイオニアとは、道を切り開く先駆者である。1番辛い役回りだ。しかし共栄ゴルフはそうあり続ける。
困難に立ち向かうことは共栄ゴルフのDNAである。

 

The founder’s beliefs are still alive at Kyoei.

The founder Tamaki Sakamoto worked in forestry after middle school and later founded Kyoei Golf. Kyoei Golf has led the industry development movement as a pioneer within the Harima region (currently known as Hyogo prefecture)

The current headquarter location, Kanzaki-gun, Ichikawa-cho, Nishi Kawanabe from 1 Banchi to 6 Banchi is approx. 9900 square meter property. From Himeji you take the Bantan Expressway towards Sea of Japan. It is situated by Ichikawa between the Ichikawa Minami exit and Ichikawa Kita exits. It is a very spacious property away from residential properties. Prior to moving to this location, Kyoei Golf was located within the Nishi Kawanabe village.

Tamaki’s dream is to “Manufacture the best irons in Japan” But to be that number one iron manufacturer in Japan, it was not enough to just have a grinding department. Even though we were training and developing the best craftsmen, it was not enough. “In order to make good grinds, you need good forging. “ Tamaki decided to establish a forging department and invested in a furnace and forging machinery.

The first furnaces were not electric as they are today and temperature was manually adjusted by throwing in coke like a steam engine locomotive.

Forging machine was “Forge Ace”

We thought we had everything that we needed to make good irons heads now. But we encountered an issue. Noise. Because we were originally located within the Nishi Kawanabe village, the thundering pounding noise from the forging process was a huge issue. During the high economical growth era, the more we could forge, the more we could sell. The main method of transporting the products was by train and the freight trains would even wait for the Kyoei shipments to load up before leaving the local Amachi station. Kyoei’s forging was known as “Precision Forging.”

We wanted to continue with the forging day and night but that was not possible. The noise issue was a serious issue.

Back when Route 312 from Ichikawabashi was on the other side of the river, the road from Ichikawa City Municipal office to Asano was not necessarily a nice road. It ran beside the mountainous area with many bamboo forests and rice fields.

Tamaki had his eyes on that property. However, that property was owned by 10 or more people. There was rumor that some of them were Yakuza (Mafia) too.

He really wanted to consolidate and own that property. It is unknown how challenging and possibly scary the experiences were in negotiating to buy those properties.

There were probably many other challenges that he did not share with his family and all we can do now is wonder. Only with his strong will to “Make it happen” could he have negotiated his way in obtaining all the property that Kyoei owns today.

Pioneers of an industry are people who can make way for others to follow. They are also the ones to face the most challenges. But Kyoei will remain being that pioneer.

“Facing the challenges” is inherent within Kyoei’s DNA

The founder’s beliefs are still alive at Kyoei.

創業者の想いは、今もこの会社の中に引き継がれている。
創業者・坂本環は中学を卒業して林業に携わり、その後共栄ゴルフを創業した。播磨の地場産業のパイオニアとなって業界をけん引してきた。現在の神崎郡市川町西川辺の本社土地は、番地でいうと西川辺1番地から6番地まで、約3000坪の土地である。姫路から日本海に抜ける、播但有料道路。市川南インターを北インターへと向かう途中で、市川添いに見えてくる、民家を避けた、広々とした土地だ。この地に移る前は、西川辺の村の中に共栄ゴルフは、あった。環の夢は「日本一のアイアンをつくる」こと。その日本一のアイアンづくりのためには、研磨部門だけでは足りなかった。いくら腕の良い職人が育っても、満足できなかった。「いいヘッドを研磨するためには、いい鍛造が要る。」環は、鍛造部門を持つことを決め、炉と鍛造機を導入する。炉は、現在のような電気炉ではなく、人手で温度調整をした。コークスを、昔の蒸気機関車のように放り込んでは、温度調整をした。鍛造機はフォージエス。
いいアイアンヘッドを作るための環境は整ったかに見えたが、ここで問題が起こる。騒音だ。西川辺の村の中にあるがために、鍛造の、あの腹に響く音は、騒音となった。時は高度成長期、共栄の鍛造は打てば打つだけ売れ、当時輸の送手段である鉄道・・・甘地駅では、汽車が共栄からの鍛造品を待ってから、発車するほどだった。共栄の鍛造は精密鍛造だと言われた。昼夜問わず打ちたいが、それはできない。騒音の問題は深刻だった。まだ、国道312号線が市川橋から川向う道だったころ、現在の市川町役場から浅野へ向かう道筋は、昔の獣道から発展してはいるものの、良い道ではなかったし、山に添うように道はあり、市川の河原傍は竹藪と田んぼであった。環はその土地に目をつけたのだった。しかし、土地の所有者は十数名にわたり、いわゆる「やくざ」もその中には居たそうである。どうしてもその土地をまとめたい。環のその苦労は、恐怖は、まったく、どのようだったろうか。実は家族も知らない苦労は多々あったようで、今となっては想像するしか他にない。やってやる、という強い思いがなければ、あの土地をまとめることはできなかったろう 業界のパイオニアとは、道を切り開く先駆者である。1番辛い役回りだ。しかし共栄ゴルフはそうあり続ける。
困難に立ち向かうことは共栄ゴルフのDNAである。
創業者の想いは、今もこの会社の中に引き継がれている。