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Nail clippers are used throughout one’s life. Suwada Blacksmith Works, Inc. uses unmatched high forging skills to create the highest quality nail clippers. Mr. Tomoyuki Kobayashi has made SUWADA into an international brand by promoting the value of his unique handmade products.
Mr. Kobayashi was born in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. Since childhood he had helped his family smithery which his grandfather established. When the young Tomoyuki was able to count to ten, he put finished products in bags. In elementary school, he annealed steel wires to make springs, and in his teens he had already learned all of the manufacturing processes.
Mr. Kobayashi went to school in Tokyo and had started his own company there by the age of 30. However, his father’s company, Suwada Blacksmith Works, Inc. had fallen in debt and Mr. Kobayashi became the company’s president in 1997 to rebuild it.
After becoming president, he reformed the old-fashioned labor conditions and also improved the management of the company. Using the blade-fitting techniques nurtured since the company’s founding, SUWADA brand products gradually became well-known for their highly functional designs as they received Good Design Awards.
High-carbon stainless steel, traditionally used to make knives, is used to make SUWADA products. The material is very hard and takes much effort and time to process. The reason why SUWADA polishes this steel to a level that competitors say is “excessive” is not just for the finish but also for making the material resistant to rusting by reducing the surface area that comes into touch with air as much as possible.
“If it’s only for our own satisfaction, that’s a hobby. The essence of a craftsman’s work lies in caring about the user to create a product that is truly enjoyed and its values shared,” says Mr. Kobayashi.
SUWADA’s factory is located on a street in the mountains some distance from central Sanjo City. This rural area may have been inhabited for tens of thousands of years – one may find Jomon period earthenware if you dig here. In this land supported by ancestral spirits, SUWADA has started their “Open Factory” initiative to let the public see how the company continues to make useful products.
The Open Factory is open to all, including customers and even elementary school students who visit every year to see the entire process of smithery, an important local industry. SUWADA employees want to let people see how they create their products so as not to let traditions fade away. This passion was felt by at least one person. A child that once visited this factory has grown up and is now employed at SUWADA as a young craftsman.
Mr. Kobayashi has been consistent in telling his staff for 20 years that he wants everyone to be happy. He wants customers to be happy, which makes the employees at SUWADA happy, and in turn this makes all who support SUWADA happy. Mr. Kobayashi and SUWADA continue to diligently create their products in pursuit of such a “Win-Win-Win” relationship.