A tough-luck Japanese factory rebounds with an inspiring new side business


The economic crash of 2008 impacted business of all sizes, and a small auto parts and electronics processing factory in Osaka was no exception. Hiyoshi Packing Corporation, now a company of nine employees, suffered a big decrease in orders and was forced to cease a business partnership between its sister factory in California. The machines shut down, filling the factory with an overwhelming silence. In the midst of such crisis, what did the company do? They decided to create jobs on their own by leveraging their existing technology — but in a very different way.

Working as a vendor for different manufacturers, Hinako Hara, the CEO of the company says that she had always wanted to create original products under the company’s name. They had the machines, facilities, and highly trained skills developed from fifty years of operation.

A giant leap


After careful consideration and many discussions, Hiyoshi ended up going in an entirely unexpected and very unconventional direction. They made business card cases which they named ‘harrytoree,’ meaning “stick” and “tear off” in Japanese. The product holds your business cards with an adhesive sticking area which can be used over and over. You simply tear off a new card whenever you need one. Check out the demo video below to see how it works for yourself.

The made-in-Japan product can be bought online through the harrytoree website for a price of 714 yen (or about $8), or you can find them on Amazon Japan. We’ll let you know if the product becomes available to oversea buyers.

From the design to colors and even to the marketing strategy, Hiyoshi Packing Corporation managed to do everything on its own. Hinako who inherited the current position from her father says that if it wasn’t for the economic crisis, harrytoree may never have been born. The case has even won an award at one of the largest exhibitions for stationary and paper products, the International Stationery and Office Products Fair Tokyo.

Applying highly trained skills and technologies in a completely new way is definitely exciting, and I hope to explore more examples like this one in the coming future.