TOKYO—Yokohama Rubber Co. celebrated its 100th anniversary Oct. 13.
Founded near Tokyo in 1917, Yokohama has overcome challenges and adversity, throughout its 100-year history, according to a company release. The firm lost its production lines in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and again in the bombing of World War II, but rebuilt each time. It endured the financial panic of 1965, the bursting of Japan's economic bubble at the outset of the 1990s and the fallout from the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Today, the business is a global corporation with 25,000 employees around the world.
The pioneering products developed in Yokohama's first 100 years include Japan's first corded tire, the "Hama Town Cord" in 1921, and its first snow tire, the "Y-29" in 1954. The "G.T. Special," developed in 1967, contributed to the popularity of radial tires in Japan.
Additionally, the company has pioneered new tire genres, including the sport radial tire "Advan HF" in 1978 and the eco-friendly "DNA" series in 1998. Yokohama was also one of the first tire makers to adopt a brand strategy that divided its product lineup into categories based on the tires' special features.
Yokohama's non-tire businesses also introduced innovative products and industry firsts, such as the world's first large pneumatic fenders in 1958, used to protect ships during ship-to-ship and dockside operations. In 1975, it introduced the first building sealant to receive Japan's highest rating for durability (JIS A5757). The Pro Gear golf equipment brand, unveiled in 1983, brought new scientific approaches such as head-speed theory to golf club design.