Wancher in Forbes JAPAN
For most small businesses, the growth and success of the company is its own reward. In the case of Wancher, the company is fortunate to boast its continued growth and receive recognition for the strides it has made since its renaming over a decade ago. In the upcoming Forbes Japan issue for September, Wancher has been selected in recognition of its achievements, yet this is not the first time that Wancher has been singled out amongst its fellow small businesses. Wancher was selected as the recipient of Forbes’ Small Giants Award in the 2021-2022 iteration of the annual competition after it had risen above its competition.
Forbes’ Small Giants Award debuted in 2018 for the purposes of highlighting and acknowledging the small businesses of Japan. The criteria for the businesses was that they would have less than five hundred employees and gross less than 10 billion yen in sales per annum with a minimum of ten years of business operations. While this immediately ruled out larger corporations based in Japan, companies and financial institutions like Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support and Shoko Chukin Bank are among the companies that comprise the nomination committee. Over a hundred companies are chosen by the nomination committee, but only eight companies are selected to continue onto the next stage, which is the document review. After the document review, the finalists will present about their company and answer questions from the judges. This strict process eliminates over 90% of the recommended companies in the first stage, which means Wancher’s win of the 2021-2022 Glocal Award is especially noteworthy.
One of the many reasons for Wancher’s win is that unlike most Japan-based small companies, over 80% of Wancher’s sales came from overseas markets. This is directly related to CEO Taizo Okagaki’s willingness to hire students from nearby universities like Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and Oita University, which led to English becoming Wancher’s official language. Instead of viewing different cultures and languages as a barrier, CEO Taizo Okagaki - and by extension, Wancher - embraced this and transformed it into an advantage by selling unique and beautiful fountain pens to untapped foreign markets. This globalized approach to marketing the products of Wancher meant that Wancher’s international employee base was able to flourish and grow without being constrained by any unfamiliarity with the local language. Even beyond Japan, the former employees of Wancher who have departed to return to their native countries have established Wancher sales channels in China, Vietnam, India, and more.
Although Wancher was innovative amongst its peers for its approach and management style, CEO Taizo Okagaki credits his background in academia as a researcher for Tottori University for his international, open-minded approach. With over 80% of its annual sales hailing from the international market, it is safe to say that Wancher’s approach has been a fruitful and positive one. The willingness to experiment and innovate in its management style and corporate structure is why Wancher was the recipient of Forbes’ Small Giants Award, and why the company will be featured in Forbes’ upcoming September issue. Hopefully, this professional relationship with Forbes Japan will continue to grow and evolve just like Wancher.
・“Forbes Japan: Small Giants 〜ニッポンが誇る「小さな大企業」が未来を切り拓く〜.” Forbes JAPAN（フォーブス ジャパン）, Forbes, 2021, forbesjapan.com/small_giants.
・“Forbes Japan: Small Giants 〜ニッポンが誇る「小さな大企業」が未来を切り拓く〜.” Forbes JAPAN（フォーブス ジャパン）, Forbes, 2021, forbesjapan.com/small_giants/event2021-2022.html.
・Yoshizawa, K. (2022). 伝統工芸を「科学」で経営。多国籍人材で育む自律型グローバル開拓エコシステム | Forbes JAPAN 公式サイト（フォーブス ジャパン）. Forbesjapan.com; Forbes. Retrieved August 24, 2023, from https://forbesjapan.com/articles/detail/46806