I was on a flight from Hong Kong to Singapore when I read that Casio’s CEO, Kazuo Kashio had died of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo. He was 89. Kashio founded Casio with his three brothers in 1957 and became a renowned Japanese brand with worldwide presence in consumer electronics and for us watch nerds, the world renowned Casio G-Shock.
Image from Casio
Kashio oversaw the earliest days of G-Shock, helping to lead Casio on the path towards making a dominating presence in the era of quartz and digital watches. Kashio was known for his ability to develop new markets and bring new technologies to his products. He seek to change the notion at the time that watches are fragile and valuable item and hence Casio seek to develop a tough watch that doesn’t break even when dropped.
“By breaking free from preconceptions and conventional notions, we have conceived products that are truly needed and used our digital technologies to make them a reality,” Kazuo Kashio said in a chairman’s message posted on the company’s website.
G-Shock was initially only popular in certain markets such as USA in 1984, after an ad showing a hockey player hitting G-Shock instead of the puck and the watch quickly became popular amongst outdoor enthusiast and eventually became a hit.
However, it was G-Shock’s success in the USA with the skateboarding culture that made it a hit in its homeland of Japan with Japanese youths importing it from the west.
“We made the marketing decision to create a lifestyle around the G-Shock, especially in the extreme sports field. But we never thought that it would be part of pop culture,” shared Kazuhiro Kashio, president of Casio.
While European craftsmen scoffed at electronic watches, Casio perfected the indestructable quartz and digital models sold under the motto “Time is a continuous process of addition.” Hundreds of G-Shock models, boasted not only durability but also longer battery life than its competitors. The worldwide shipment of the watches reached 100 million units in August last year, the company said. But Kashio wasn’t contented.
“Our corporate creed is creativity and contribution. That means producing new products and creating new cultures are the basis of Casio’s corporate activities. Unfortunately, I think that this philosophy has become weaker recently,” said Kashio with surprising honesty.
Image from Casio
He devoted his life to the creation of new products that help improve people's lives and learning. He led the Casio management team for 27 years, overseeing the company’s evolution from its foundations laid by former president Tadao Kashio.
“I’m reforming the company’s structure and changing the way we do things. In my opinion, many of the major Japanese companies, and not just us, are having this ‘big company sickness’. I think the key is to reduce the size of the main headquarters so that it can become more agile and adaptable. It’s not about laying off employees or restructuring the business but relooking at our work processes. With these changes, I sincerely hope that the timepiece business will continue to thrive,” shared Kashio.
Today, Casio is still going through reforms and improving its products by making a difference with toughness and technology as it has always been in its roots and I believe Casio will still prosper in the many years to come.
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