My Story With NARUTOSCISSORS | President YUJI KAWANO
My story with Naruto Scissors started last year.
In this commemorative vol. 10, we are pleased to present a special interview with Yuji Kawano, who assumed the position of President last summer.
We would like to introduce him to you and share his passion for Naruto Scissors!
■First of all, please briefly introduce yourself.
I’m Yuji Kawano and I was born in 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympics.
My Chinese zodiac sign is the Year of the Dragon, and I am the male of the year. I will be 61 years old by my count, so this may be an unlucky year for me.
My star sign is Virgo and my hobbies are snorkeling and camping. I really enjoy the outdoors.
■As some of you may know, President Kawano's father was the founder of Naruto Scissors, right?
Yes, he was.
My father was originally a barber. He used and sharpened scissors every day.
He thought, “If only there were scissors that didn't wear out at the points of contact!”
He developed the three-dimensional circular ride (touch points) from his wish to have scissors with no wear and tear.
I believe that the improvement of the scissors he used became the root of Naruto scissors.
■The birth of "Naruto", the predecessor of "Naruto Scissors". By the way, where did you get this company name from?
It seems to have taken over the company name of "Naruto Photo Studio," which was run by my grandfather in Tokushima Prefecture.
『The starting point is making things』
So, since you were a child, did you always think, "I'm going to take over Naruto in the future”?
When I was a child, I loved making things, and my dream at the time was to become a carpenter.
I still didn't know much about the family business. I always heard my father did something with a buffing tool (a rotary sharpening tool) when he came home from his frequent business trips.
■How did you come to work for Naruto?
I worked part-time at the Naruto factory during my summer vacations when I was in high school. The part-time job didn’t pay very much.
But after graduation, I decided to join the company.
I wanted to work in sales, but as a young man, I needed to know more about scissors in order to gain the trust and recognition of customers. So, I joined the factory and studied scissors.
■What was the atmosphere like at Naruto Scissors and the factory back then?
Everyone was more craftsman-like than now.
The senior workers were all veterans. They taught me, but basically I had to learn the processes by watching them and stealing glimpse of their techniques with my eyes.
They taught me how to disassemble scissors, sharpen them, polish them, and adjust them.
Just like training to be a chef, it took me years to learn each job in turn until I became a full-fledged chef.
I didn't think it was hard because it is natural to be demanding.
Rather, as a craftsman, I had the joy of clearing and mastering each step.
That became my strength and confidence, and I began to enjoy my work again.
『Listening to the voice of the customer』
■What was important to you as a craftsman at that time?
Naturally, I was particular about the condition and sharpness of the scissors.
Eventually, I wanted to hear directly from our customers, so I started visiting different salons several times a year.
There, I would ask about the scissors they were using, and when they made a request, such as "Can you make this a little better," I would repeatedly make adjustments.
It was a great experience for me to learn what our customers wanted and to improve my skills.
■Please tell us about a particularly memorable moment during your time as a craftsman.
I remember well the first exhibition I attended in my second year with the company.
I loaded a complete set of display cases, sharpening tools, and a buffing machine into a van and went there. It was a big distributor event in Gifu, and it was a novel exhibition even for those days. There were a lot of sales.
There was a food stand next to the buffing machine, and they were baking Mitarashi dumplings. It would be unthinkable now, though.
■Then you were assigned to the sales department.
I joined the company at the age of 18 and became a sales representative at the age of 36.
I was always thinking about going out to the customer and gaining the trust of the distributors and customers.
Whenever a new product came out, I would test cut my children's hair at home.
That way I can introduce them to my customers with confidence.
Wigs don't tell me anything, but if the scissors get caught in their hair, my family members would mercilessly tell me, "Ouch! They will say, "Ouch!
Also, by cutting, I know what it feels like to have scissors cutting hair.
I check to see how easy they are to hold, how well they fit, and how easy they feel to use.
Then I check the sharpness and the feel of hair being pulled out from scissors.
If it is thinning, I also check the hair style again after 3 or 4 weeks. I check if the hair is cohesive or not, and if it's not too loose.
If I think it looks good, I introduce it to the customers! I will only introduce it to the customers if I think it is a good idea.
The most important thing is to listen to the customer's opinion. It is really important to reflect the customer's opinion in the scissors and make fine adjustments until the very end. This is what Naruto Scissors can do.
■What is an unforgettable episode from your sales days?
I will never forget the first time I visited a salon as a salesperson, where a customer hair was cut while listening to my explanation and then the owner purchased four pairs of scissors on the spot. At the time, the scissors were exceptionally expensive compared to other companies, but the customer made an immediate decision, and I was able to witness once again the high quality of Naruto scissors.
I also remember that I had made a mistake on the loan application form and apologized to him, saying, "I'm sorry, please rewrite it one more time.” It was a salon in Kagoshima.
『Imagine the best one.』
■In this fiscal year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the company's founding, you took over from former President Hasegawa, who served for 18 years, and assumed the position of President and Representative Director.
The reason Naruto Scissors has survived for the past 60 years is due to the support of our customers.
We have heard stories of our scissors being passed down from parent to child.
Imagine the best one.
The "Best Scissors" vary from customer to customer.
That is why our craftsmen continue to pursue their skills by listening to and imagining the opinion of our customers and responding to their diverse requests.
As a partner to barbers and hair stylists, all of us at Naruto Scissors are united in our pursuit of scissors that can be used for a long time.
We look forward to your continued patronage of Naruto Scissors.
■By the way, what is your favorite pair of scissors?
My ultimate scissors are “Spin Hennessy”.
They fit me the best and are easy to hold.
If I were to make a pair of scissors completely based on my taste alone, it would be Spin. In my mind, Spin is already the ultimate!
If you could see these two fingers on the static blade handle, you would understand.
Can you hold it for a second? When you put two of them on the handle... you know... this flow along your fingers...
(The president can't stop talking about his love for spin)