1-1, Ojima 2-chome

Telephone: (03) 3638-8111
Fax: (03) 3638-8254

Public Company
Incorporated: 1949 as Myokenya Home Fixtures Wholesaling Co., Ltd.
Employees: 9,571
Sales: ¥412.03 billion (US$2.87 billion)
Stock Index: Tokyo Osaka

Company History:

Toyo Sash Co., Ltd. is Japan's leading manufacturer and supplier of aluminum building materials, with more than 30% of the domestic market. The company serves the needs of both the housing and the commercial building industries. To the housing industry it contributes window-related products, interior products such as kitchen and bathroom units, wooden floors and doors, and exterior products such as balconies, carports, and ceramic siding. Toyo Sash's products for the commercial building industry range from skylights to steel doors, and during the late 1980s expanded to non-metal materials such as wood and stone. The company's four operating divisions are housing sash, commercial building sash, housing materials, and fabricated home products.

In 1923 Myokenya, a retail fixture dealership, was formed. The company grew modestly until 1947, when it also began to sell wooden fixtures--such as window sashes--wholesale. The company profited from the post-World War II building boom in Japan. Myokenya--and later Toyo Sash--grew very quickly as Japan's wood-frame houses were replaced by more modern structures. In 1949 the business was incorporated as Myokenya Home Fixtures Wholesaling Co., Ltd. In 1953 the company completed its first plant in Katsushika, for the production of standard wooden fixtures.

This steady growth became characteristic of the company. In 1964 Myokenya began preparing to produce aluminum sashes. Also in 1964, the company opened its second plant, in Oyama. Unlike many countries, Japan's aluminum-sash producers are not small independent operations; they are an integral part of the competitive building materials industry. The company entered the aluminum-building-materials market in 1966, with the introduction of a home-window-sash product.

In the fall of 1967 a production subsidiary called Toyo Sash was formed, as was Toyo Sash Sales Company. That same year, the Nanakodai plant was completed. In 1968 Myokenya changed its name to Toyo Sash Housing Company, and Toyo Juko Company--later Tostem Cera Company--was established as a subsidiary. Myokenya's Naruto plant was finished that same year. In 1969 the Nakasato (now Noda) plant--the first plant to be equipped with an integrated production line--opened. A sixth plant was built in 1970, while the company continued to conceive new products. Among these were light storm shutters and the new Taiyo home sash, with two-tier lower-edge design, introduced in 1971.

In October 1971 Toyo Housing Company and its associated companies were merged to form Toyo Sash Company. In 1973 three new plants were completed in Kanuma, Shimotsuma, and Fujihana. August of that year marked the opening of the first Toyo Sash franchise chain outlet.

In the mid- 1970s, with confidence inspired by steady growth, the company branched into the housing-exterior industry. In 1975 Toyo Sash began to manufacture storefronts. By 1977, four distribution centers were opened to offer the expanding line of Toyo Sash products to the public--including aluminum bay windows and standardized aluminum balconies. Four more plants were completed during that span. In addition, 1977 saw the creation of four new subsidiaries: Viva Home Company, Toyo Building Sash Company, Taiyo Metal Manufacturing Company, and Royal Sash Manufacturing Company. Viva signaled the company's entry into the home-improvement business. Toyo Building Sash established the start of commercial-buildings sash production; a new series of building sashes was introduced in 1978. Royal Sash marked production of high-quality aluminum doors. The decade closed with the construction of two more plants, and the establishment of Toyo Distribution Service Company, the overseer of the company's entire distribution system.

Toyo Sash devised a new sales system in 1980, creating 45 sales subsidiaries throughout Japan. Having its own sales force has allowed Toyo Sash to undercut its competitors with prices kept low by the absence of middlemen, and customers kept happy by fast, efficient delivery. In what was also to become a key company strategy, Toyo Sash acquired the Nihol Repol Corporation in 1980. It became a stated company policy to acquire only companies that would enhance Toyo Sash's product line, increase technological expertise, or strengthen marketing channels.

A new plant and a new distribution center were opened in 1981, and the company's first electronic data-processing system was installed. Called TRAIN--for Toyo Sash Real Time Advanced Information Network--this system permits wholesalers, distribution centers, plants, and offices to access centralized information on all products, thus assuring fast, efficient service and delivery. With the establishment of Clean Window Remodelings Company in 1982, Toyo Sash entered another market--building-sash remodeling. That same year, a production and a sales company merged with Toyo Sash. At this point, the company's reputation was such that Toyo Sash was awarded the Japanese sash industry's first order from the People's Republic of China.

In 1983, the company's Noda plant received an award for product quality and standardization. Toyo Sash adopted the nickname Tostem in 1984. The company's Shinjuku, Tokyo showroom was opened in 1984; it is the largest showroom in the building materials industry. That same year, Kowa Metal Manufacturing Company was acquired and a new production plant completed.

The following year was distinguished by a flurry of acquisitions, in the midst of which Toyo Sash was first listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Mitsui Light Metal Processing Company and Dai-Ichi Mokko Company were acquired in the first half of 1985. Meiwa Manufacturing Company, Meiwa Company, Nihon Lumber Land Company, Nittetsu Curtainwall Corporation, and Nittetsu Sash Sales Corporation were acquired, later in the year. During this time, Tostem paused in its introduction of new products to concentrate on assimilating these new entities. In November of that busy year, the company opened its first overseas representative office in Hong Kong.

Products introduced in 1986 included a new terrace series and an electrical storm shutter called Al-ease. Al-ease enjoyed such success in the housing industry that the company later developed an electric window shutter for the commercial building industry. These shutters feature soundproofing, remote control, and excellent ventilation. Also inaugurated in 1986 was TOPICS--Toyo Sash Prosperous Information for Customers System. This data-processing system provides current inventory data and price quotes to dealers. Tostem changed its sales structure that year to its present system of subsidiaries. There were also three more acquisitions: Eyeful Home Company, Comalco Fabricators (Hong Kong) Ltd., and Sanyo Chemical Manufacturing Company. Toyo Sash's Ariake plant received the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology Award at the close of 1986.

In 1987 Tostem Thai Company and Kyodo Dieworks Thailand Company were established. The construction of a Toyo Sash plant was begun in Hong Kong, while the Teine and Ichinoseki plants were completed and an Osaka showroom opened. By year's end, Tostem's plants had received two more awards, including another Agency of Industrial Science and Technology Award.

Toyo Sash's growth strategies paid off in 1988, when the company outsold all Japanese competitors during the country's housing boom. That boom was the result of lower interest rates on housing loans and a change in government regulations that allowed larger wooden homes to be built on more sites. At the same time, a commercial redevelopment boom was taking place, boosting Toyo Sash's commercial-building-materials market. At this point, Tostem was clearly the industry's leader; with 35% of the housing sash market, it was setting prices and producing 80 meters of aluminum bars per minute per machine--almost double its competitors' rates. The company's reputation was such that architects were designing around Toyo Sash's casements, avoiding custom-made orders. In all, 1988 was an exceptional year, financially, for the company, and many new products were introduced, including ceramic siding and windows with built-in thermometers and rain sensors.

Most of Toyo Sash's international activities have been geared toward developing production and materials procurement capabilities, and toward expanding markets.

The Tostem Thai plant is the company's first full-scale overseas production facility. It is a low-cost manufacturer whose products initially were sold only in Japan, but Tostem projected eventual marketing throughout Southeast Asia. The company's Hong Kong facilities have taken advantage of the high-rise construction boom taking place there. Part ownership of two U.S. facilities of Alumax Company acquired in 1988 is intended to assure a low-cost supply of aluminum ingots.

Japan Try Company was merged into Tostem in 1989. The company had expected a slow-down in the home-building boom, to be offset by an increase in home renovation. Toward this end, it developed a line of high-value items such as wooden products, prefabricated kitchen and bathroom units, and metal and ceramic sidings. Tostem continued record gains during 1989 as the Japanese economy remained strong. Anticipating the home-renovation and urban-redevelopment market needs has paid off for Toyo Sash.

For fiscal 1990, the housing-sash division represented 68% of the company's total sales, a slight dip from the previous year. The building-sash and fabricated-home-products divisions saw a slight increase, while housing materials stayed roughly the same. Given the company's solid base in the industry, its award-winning product quality and innovation, and its market sensitivity, Toyo Sash Company is equipped for continued success.

Principal Subsidiaries: Tostem Cera Co., Ltd.; Toyo Sash Building Materials Co., Ltd.; Tostem Thai Co., Ltd. (Thailand); Okinawa Toyo Sash Co., Ltd.; ATMOS (U.S.A.) Inc.; Tostem Fudosan Corporation; Kyodo Veneer and Plywood Co., Ltd. (95%).

Further Reading:

Group Guide '90, Tokyo, Toyo Sash Co., Ltd., 1990.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 3. St. James Press, 1991.