Over 80 years ago, a Japanese merchant named Taikichi Nagase began manufacturing a rubber baseball that has become a Japanese tradition.
Combining a textured rubber surface with a hollow air center, “nankyu” baseballs are renowned in Japan for their safety and durability. More than 90 percent of Japanese children play with this safety baseball, and Nagase Kenko Corporation (NKC) is far and away the industry leader – holding a market share of more than 60%. In the eighty years it has been manufacturing this product, over 6 billion NKC balls have been sold – without a single serious injury.
Formally incorporated in 1936, NKC has now, under the leadership of President Jiro Nagase, developed into a global, multi-line sporting goods company. It has also become a worldwide leader in innovative research and the development of sports programs. In addition to its line of nankyu baseballs, NKC markets a wide range of sporting good products and services through its Team Sports and Tennis, Sports Flooring and Gymnastics Equipment and International Sales and Marketing divisions.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, the Nagase Kenko Corporation presently employs a staff of over 250 individuals around the world. It maintains four Japanese manufacturing facilities and three regional sales offices in Osaka, Fukuoka and Hokkaido. In addition, it maintains an extensive network of agents, distributors and representatives who help to manage its sales and marketing and promotional activities around the world.
Nagase Kenko Corporation
35-6 Sumida 2-Chome, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, Japan 131-8520
◆TEL & FAX
• Team Sports and Tennis
• Floor Mats
• International Sales and Marketing Research and Development
• Production and Procurement
• Finance and Administration
Baseball, Floor Mats, Softballs and other Sporting Goods Products
35-6, SUMIDA2-CHOME, SUMIDA-KU,TOKYO 131-8520
6-28, KITAHORIE3-CHOME, NISHI-KU, OSAKA-SHI, OSAKA 550-0014
12, SHIOTSUKETORI1-CHOME, SHOWA-KU,NAGOYA-SHI, AICHI 466-0022
IWAYOSHI BUILD. 18-1, SANNO1-CHOME, HAKATA-KU,FUKUOKA-SHI, FUKUOKA 812-0015
NKC’s largest division is responsible for domestic sales and marketing of team sports and tennis equipment, including products designed for baseball, softball, tennis and soft tennis.
Headquarted in Tokyo, and drawing upon the resources of NKC regional sales offices in Osaka, Fukuoka and Hokkaido, the team sports and tennis division maintains a national network to manage the sale of NKC products to schools, youth leagues, corporations, retail outlets and other entities which encompass the Japanese youth market.
The team sports and tennis division also supports the distribution of NKC products overseas. Kenko baseballs are now widely used in many countries in Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. These sales are managed by NKC’s International Sales and Marketing Division. NKC sponsors hundreds of youth sporting and educational events in Japan every year, such as the annual WCBF (World Children Baseball Festival), International Baseball Association Boys and Japan Soft Baseball Federation tournament.
NKC is also a market leader in the field of soft tennis. This unique Japanese game uses an inflatable soft tennis ball and a lighter tennis racket.
To promote the sport of soft tennis, NKC is highly active in, and helps to sponsor, a national woman’s soft tennis league in Japan. This allows Japanese corporations such as NKC, NTT, Toshiba and Yonex to play in tournaments and league games across Japan with local schools and universities.
Kenko sports floor mats set the standard in international table tennis, badminton and indoor tennis. Developed in Japan almost two decades ago; NKC floor-mats are now attracting the attention of export customers within Asia and other markets. These sales are managed by NKC’s International Sales and Marketing Division.
Within Japan, NKC distributes a full line of gymnastics equipment. Working closely with its research and development and production and procurement divisions, NKC works closely with suppliers around the world to select gymnastics balls, clubs, ropes, hoops, and other equipment which meets its exacting quality standards.
Other products include volleyballs, softi-balls, rhythmic gymnasium equipment and sporting goods for special needs children.
NKC’s international sales and marketing division maintains a network of agents, representatives and distributors who manage the distribution of NKC products and services to customers on every continent in the world.
The International Division also manages NKC’s relationships with key sporting organizations around the world. The Kenko ball is the official youth baseball for Little League and Little League International, Pony League, Netherlands and Italian Baseball Federation, Confederacion Panamericana de Beisbol (COPABE), Mexican (FEMEBA), Brazilian and Cuban Youth Baseball, Africa Baseball and Softball Association (ABSA), U.S.–Japan Friendship Games Program, Baseball Federation of Asia (BAF) and Victorian Baseball Association of Australia.
The Kenko ball is also being used by the Singapore Youth Baseball Association, Taiwan Youth Baseball Association, Philippines Youth Baseball Association, Venezuela Youth Baseball Association, the T-ball association, a high school league in the Philippines, and by colleges in Taiwan. NKC also supports adult baseball leagues around the world, including a corporate league managed by the Nippon Club in New York, which boasts over 200 U.S. and Japanese Corporations as members.
Youth tournaments include the European Kenko Tournament, the Championship of COPABE (age groups 9-10 & 11-12) and the Kenko U/13 Africa Continent Baseball Tournament. In Europe, the Pirates, a Dutch Baseball Club, sponsor an annual Kenko tournament for young players.
The Kenko Sports Floor Mat has also been attracting wide interest in export markets around the world. Countries include: Indonesia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Taiwan, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Bangladesh, the U.S., Malaysia, Pakistan and South Africa.
The International Division is also active in youth sports and youth education programs. This has led to several exciting new commercial ventures, including:
Doyle Baseball, Inc. – an arrangement with America’s largest youth baseball training program – to make Kenko the official safety baseball for all their youth training activities across the United States.
Many Japanese corporations rely upon NKC and its products to help them to establish sporting programs that promote health and stronger relationships between managers, employees, other companies and local communiities. This helps them to become stronger competitors and to transcend cultural barriers all around the world.
For example, in the U.S., NKC has actively supported and supplied baseballs and sporting equipment to the New York- based Nippon Club’s Nanku Baseball Corporate League Program. This program, which celebrated its twenty-eighth birthday in 2003, brings together over forty Japanese companies (including Sony, Sumitomo, Daiichi-Kangyo Bank, Nichimen, Marubeni, Matsushita, Canaon, Fuji Bank, and Itochu) in the New York area in an annual tournament. Several American firms, including Deloitte Touche and KPMG Peat Marwick also participate.
In Japan, NKC helps to sponsor a national woman’s corporate soft tennis league, which allows their employees to play with local schools and universities.
As an originator of nankyu baseball – the most popular youth sport in Japan – NKC has dedicated itself for over 70 years to maintaining a leadership role in the research and development of innovative sporting goods products.
Maintaining an on-site R&D facility in its Tokyo headquarters, NKC engineers and technical staff have been in the forefront of developing rubber-based applications for sporting goods products. Innovations include attractive rollable mats, which zip together to cover any floor size, while maintaining a performance level comparable with wooden floors as well as medical and physiological standards.
In addition to product development, the R&D division is also responsible for ensuring the safety, consistency of performance and quality of all NKC products – whether they are manufactured in NKC’s own facilities or procured from outside sources. Every product marketed under the NKC name is subjected to a battery of tests to ensure that it performs to the national and international specifications and standards that are promised.
NKC maintains four production facilities within Japan. These are located within 200 kilometers of its Tokyo headquarters, including three in the Japanese prefecture of Chiba and one in Gunma. The Production and Procurement Division manages the flow of merchandise within these facilities, arranging for the procurement of raw materials such as rubber and other industrial inputs, including the design and packaging of finished products and all other logistical details necessary to deliver NKC goods to its customers around the world.
The Production and Procurement Division also monitors offshore manufacturing and sourcing from locations including Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Sweden, the U.S. and Germany. This helps NKC to maintain cost efficiencies and to distribute an expanded product line to its clients.
Within its Tokyo headquarters, NKC maintains a division which manages all accounting, financial, administrative and reporting activities.