While Taisho-era democracy is often cast in a positive light,
the decade of the 1920s was in fact a truly difficult time for Japan as the people struggled to live alongside poverty
and disease even as the nation fought a recession in the wake of the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars and
dealt with a series of natural disasters and national epidemics.
From the Taisho period through the Showa and Heisei periods and finally to the Reiwa period of today.
Let us tell our story and recount how we went from being founded to overcoming many crises and challenges,
among them the chaos that came with the onset of the Second World War, to become the company we are today.
Kazuo Mineki, eldest son of Shigeru Mineki, is born in Bisai-Okoshi-cho, Ichinomiya-shi, a place that served as a center of the textiles industry.
This year sees an unprecedented economic boom and runaway inflation due to World War I.
As the European powers return to the market, overproduction causes the world to plunge into a state of postwar panic, which in turn triggers the crash of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on March 15.
The company shifts its operations after relocating from Tarui-cho, Gifu, in the process closing down a weaving business that had been in operation in Okoshi-cho, Ichinomiya-shi, for twenty-eight years.
Shigeru Mineki launches the Marumi Lumber Outlet by the Shinhori River shortly after the completion of construction in Naka Ward, Nagoya-shi.
With the sudden death of Shigeru Mineki at the age of thirty-six, Sukesaburo Kondo (Shigeru Mineki’s brother-in-law) takes over the company.
The stock market in New York crashes this year, plunging the world into the Great Depression.
- With the death of Sukesaburo Kondo, Kazuo, Shigeru Mineki’s eldest son, takes over the Marumi Lumber Outlet at the tender age of twenty.
Despite being helmed by an inexperienced owner, the company performs well due to economic factors associated with the early phase of the war.
- Kazuo Mineki is called up to serve in the army.
- With inventory consolidation and the collection of receivables taking several days to complete, the company suffers a series of economic blows.
- Kazuo Mineki is dispatched as a medic to China, where he works at various field hospitals in Shanghai, Jiujiang, and Wuhan.
- Kazuo Mineki meets Yaeno, an army nurse from Himeji; the two later get married after returning home.
Returning home to Japan
- Kazuo Mineki returns home after being released from military service.
The Marumi Lumber Outlet is forced to shut down under the wartime companies control and servicing order.
- Kazuo Mineki is called up again and dispatched as a medic attached to a Special Attack Unit in the Philippines near the end of the Second World War.
- Kazuo Mineki’s ship is sunk by U.S. naval forces in Lingayen Gulf near Manila.
- Kazuo Mineki evades capture by U.S. military forces for a year by hiding in the jungles of the Philippines.
End of the war
- Kazuo Mineki is interned for a year in the Batangas Prisoner of War Camp south of Manila after the end of the war.
During his time spent as a prisoner of war, Kazuo Mineki forms a strong impression of American rationalism.
- Kazuo Mineki is repatriated from the Philippines.
- He visually takes in all the different ways in which Japan, and Nagoya in particular, have changed during his absence and also learns that his grandmother has died.
- On land by the Shinhori River that was left to him by his father, Kazuo Mineki resumes operations of the family’s lumber business.
- With the capital of 180,000 yen and in collaboration with a friend, Kazuo Mineki inherits his predecessor’s Marumi trade name and establishes Marumi & Co., Ltd., a company with an initial workforce of just three.
- The company tenders’ bids in Hokkaido and ships various types of timber for furniture – including oak, ash, cork, sen, and katsura – from the Port of Muroran to the Port of Nagoya.
- Due to the lack of a proper system of marine insurance, these are difficult undertakings as accidents during transportation and other problems constantly arise.
- Hokkaido-sourced hardwood lumber sells rapidly thanks to postwar reconstruction, giving impetus to the growth and development of Marumi & Co., Ltd.
- A branch office is opened in Shirotori, Atsuta Ward, along the lower reaches of the Hori River; sales of Kiso hinoki cypress wood commence.
- Upon becoming independent of the aforementioned partnership, with a capital of 650,000 yen, Kazuo Mineki establishes Marumi Lumber Co., Ltd. situated along the Shinhori River in Naka Ward, Nagoya-shi.
- Forest land is purchased as part of the company’s plan to engage in forest management operations in the Izu region. Large volumes of lumber from zelkova trees and other high-quality, natural large-diameter trees are produced to contribute substantially to the cultivation of a sound financial foundation for the company.
- In the wake of a typhoon, logs at a quay-side logging site in Izu are washed out to sea, thereby causing substantial damage to fishing boats.
- The company suffers an ongoing series of losses as speculators steal good-quality lumber or abscond with the money used for acquiring lumber.
- With less natural hardwood available for harvest, the company gradually shifts to softwood and its forestry operations from Izu to the Hida region in Gifu.
Head office relocation
- The head office is relocated to Masaki-cho, Naka Ward (by the halfway along the Hori River), in the middle of a collection of lumberyards in Nagoya to accommodate the need to handle higher volumes of softwood lumber.
- Lumber is obtained from forests in Gifu, Nagano, Kyushu, and Shikoku and operations are expanded to make the company into one of the industry’s top five wholesale suppliers to public-sector clients.
- Logs are sold as materials for use in railway rolling stock and shipbuilding.
- Two sawmills are established at a branch office situated adjacent to the Shirotori Lumberyard in Atsuta Ward (downstream on the Hori River), which has existed since the founding of the company; lumber products are delivered to this site.
- Favorable business conditions persist thereafter for around three years as products are exported to South Korea through the company’s trading operations in an effort to fulfill special procurement contracts for the reconstruction of South Korea.
Traveling to the United States
- The consumption of vast amounts of lumber due to the demand generated by postwar reconstruction causes domestic forests to become depleted and market prices to soar.
- Kazuo Mineki travels to the United States to purchase lumber.
Head office relocation
The company’s head office is relocated to the site of a branch office situated adjacent to a sawmill and lumberyard in Shirotori, Atsuta Ward.
- The Typhoon Vera strikes Japan, causing 200,000 tons of lumber in a lumberyard to wash away and sweep across residential areas.
- The company also sustains huge losses when its entire supply of logs in Shirotori is washed away.
- The company begin importing and selling American timber through a trading company.
Convinced that the time for imported lumber has arrived, the company decides to continue dealing with lumber from overseas even though this course of action appears to make no business sense given the poor state of local ports for exportation, problems with freight vessels, and increased costs due in part to customs clearance procedures in Japan.
- Lumberyard operations in Nagoya expand from Shirotori, Atsuta Ward, to Kiba, Minato Ward; Higashi Nagoya Port; Kinjo Pier; and Kafuku, Minami Ward.
- The company begins to deal in building materials.
While this category of business is less attractive than the timber business, it represents the first step towards diversification.
Head office relocation
- Construction and relocation of the company’s head office to Mizuho-dori 3-chome, Mizuho Ward, Nagoya-shi.
Developing villa districts
- Drawn to the local outdoor life while on numerous business trips to the United States, Kazuo Mineki purchases a private villa on the shore of Lake Yamanaka.
- With a hunch that this could be turned into a business opportunity and having obtained information from a local dealer in Ise-Shima, Mie, the company purchases mountain lots measuring 495,000 square meters and 264,000 square meters in area.
- The company begins to develop and subdivide lots for the construction of villas based on the business savvy built up through forest acquisitions and interactions with speculators.
- This business, which at its core involves semi-detached dwellings, enhances the company’s ties to real estate and helps lay the groundwork that allows the company to subsequently enter the condominium business.
- The company builds a plant in Yajie-cho, Minami Ward, and starts to process and sell metal sashes.
Lumber warehouse relocation
- With the relocation of the hub of lumberyards from Minato Ward to the Nagoya Western Port (Tobishima Village, Aichi), which was built on reclaimed land, the company purchases a site with an area of approximately 26,400 square meters at the Nagoya Western Lumber Port and moves its lumber warehouse to that location.
Condominium operations and a change in trade name
- Kazuo Mineki visits Tokyo to study the condominium business.
- Convinced that this business could be profitable, the company begins selling condominium apartments.
- The company’s trade name is changed to Marumi Sangyo Co., Ltd.
- The company purchases a mountain with a surface area of 2.6 million square meters in Ontake Highland, Gifu to develop and sell villa lots.
- The company develops and sells homes and lots.
- Marumi Richland Service Co., Ltd., is established as a business enterprise tasked with managing villas and condominiums.
- Masayuki Mineki is appointed president.
- Profitability declines substantially due to the maturation and deteriorating profitability of the condominium business.
President Masayuki Mineki’s decision allows the company to avoid shutting down its business and continue operating to produce at least one building a year.
- Trees are planted in a 660,000 square meter forest in Rankoshi-cho, Hokkaido, and are slated for harvest in around 2048 and 2076.
- Marumi Canada Lumber Ltd., a lumber-exporting company, is established in Vancouver, Canada.
- The collapse of the bubble economy leads to the markets for lumber and building materials shrinking rapidly.
- The fall in land prices leads to falling house prices, resulting in the demand for condominium apartments, which had been dormant, to reawaken; the company seizes this opportunity and expands sales of condominiums.
- On the other hand, the company withdraws from the timber, building materials, and metal sash businesses and also significantly revamps its wood product operations.
- A pre-cut processing plant (metal fittings method) begins operations, but the plant is shut down after two years due to a failure to get on track.
Expansion into China
- Marumi Resort Hida Akigami Kogen Ayumikan opens.
- The Chengdu office in China is opened in response to increased levels of lumber importation.
Searching for solutions
- The Dalian office in China is opened to facilitate the importation of wood-type building materials.
- Since the bursting of the bubble economy, the company’s financial base has significantly improved thanks to the construction and sale of condominiums.
- A two-decade-long period of trial-and-error continues as offices are opened and closed in places like Mikawa, Mie, Gifu, Shizuoka, Osaka, Tokyo, and Bangkok (Thailand) and new businesses are launched and then shuttered.
- Marumi Design & Construction Co., Ltd., is established as a housing construction company.
- Yoshiyuki Minami is appointed president.
Renovation of company building
- The outmoded head office of the company is renovated.
- Despite being affected by a global recession, the company recovers by steadily engaging in successful sales activities.
Commencement of exports
- Domestic timber exports commence; sales rise to 2 billion yen per year by 2017, which is two years after from today, at which point the company ranks number one in Japan and accounts for one-sixth of the total value of domestic timber exported overseas.
Death of a giant
- Kazuo Mineki passes away at age 100.
- The long turbulent life of Kazuo Mineki, founder of present day Marumi Sangyo, comes to an end. He was fortunate enough to have lived each day of his later years in a state of happiness.
- Kazushi Mineki is appointed president.
Centennial of the founding of the company