At a glance

History of Makita

History of the Makita Group

In 1915, Makita was founded as an electric motor sales and repair company. In 1958, Makita became the first company in Japan to manufacture and sell electric planers. For over a half century thereafter, Makita worked to build a steady position as a manufacturer of portable electric power tools and, today, continues its quest to provide products and services that are beneficial to all types of customers engaged in housing construction. Makita’s history also parallels that of the evolution of power tools and, over the course of its history, Makita has worked to dovetail its products to its customers’ developing needs.

Enthusiasm for the Electric Business

Makita Electric Works was founded in the city of Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture on March 21, 1915. It was a time when demand for electricity was growing rapidly, driven by the economic boom around the time of World War I that began the year before.The starting point of the Company was a small factory engaged in selling and repairing lighting equipment, motors, and transformers, with only four members: Mosaburo Makita, aged 21, operating the factory as its owner, Jujiro Goto, aged 17, an experienced worker, and a boy who had just graduated from elementary school.

Mosaburo Makita, the founder, was born in 1893 to a rich family of timber merchants in Nagoya and brought up in comfort. He had had a strong interest in electrical technology from early childhood, and he entered a commercial school once but persuaded his parents to allow him to re-enroll in an engineering school in Tokyo. In 1913, after graduating from school, he joined Nagoya Dento Co., Ltd. (current Chubu Electric Power Company) and took the first step as an engineer at its laboratory. He seemed to have successfully started out on a career path in the eyes of others, but in reality Mosaburo had a long-standing dream of getting his electricity business started.

Mosaburo Makita, the Founder (around 1920)

About a year after getting a job, an opportunity arose for Mosaburo. He heard that Meiji Electric, headquartered in Tokyo, had run into financial difficulty and decided to close its branch factory in Nagoya and sell machinery and equipment. Meiji Electric was engaged in manufacturing, selling, and repairing motors and electric transformers in the order of 50 horsepower. Mosaburo enthusiastically asked his father right away for financial assistance and concluded a contract to acquire the machinery and equipment. At the same time, he requested Meiji Electric to dispatch workers as well, and Jujiro Goto was appointed to the task. Nobody would have guessed that Jujiro would later lay down the foundations of the Company.

  • Mosaburo Makita founded Makita Electric Works (proprietorship) in Nagoya.
    Began selling and repairing lighting equipment, motors, and transformers.
  • First exported electric generators and motors to the Soviet Union.
  • On-site inspection by inspector from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union required rigorous inspections for export, but the Company’s products passed them with excellent assessment results. It became Makita’s memorable first export case.
  • Incorporated the proprietorship’s business form and established Makita Electric Works, Inc.
    At the time, the Company had capital of 180,000 yen, a total number of issued shares of 3,600, and 94 employees.
  • In an attempt to avoid air raids, moved the plant to the current head office in the city of Anjo in Aichi Prefecture.

Started marketing the first domestically produced electric planers

In 1955, Jujiro Goto, one of the founding members, became President. At the time, the Company was in danger of going bankrupt due to a slump in sales amid the recession in the wake of the Korean War.

Under those circumstances, Jujiro worked out new strategies one after another. One such strategy was to develop proprietary products. Motors, one of Makita’s core products, are not stand-alone products but are only parts used as a power source of machine tools, weaving machines, and woodworking machines. As a result, demand for the Company’s products varied depending on the business performance of customers. That meant that no matter how much effort the Company made for sales and marketing, it could not boost sales unless demand for its products rose. In order to solve this structural issue, Jujiro launched the development of proprietary products as an important issue.

Jujiro Goto at the time of president appointment

With a supportive push from Jujiro, employees explored seeds of new products. In 1957, the Company embarked on the development of the first domestically produced portable electric planer, for which it could apply its motor production technologies cultivated over the years. In the following year, 1958, the Company, by trial and error, successfully launched the first domestically produced portable electric planer (model 1000). The new product had a production process and customers that were totally different from those of motors, the Company’s previous core product. But employees had confidence in the performance of the product. Model 1000 allowed inexperienced workers to do work as well as experienced workers with a uniform and beautiful finish. In addition, it was a lot less expensive than imports. Shortly after the launch of model 1000, its reputation spread and it gained popularity among builders and carpenters throughout the country. The Company thus transformed into a specialized electric power tool manufacturer.

  • Started marketing the model 1000 portable electric planer, the first domestically produced product in Japan.
  • Catalogue of electric planers at that time
  • Transformed into a power tool manufacturer
  • Initiated exports of electric power tools with shipment of 1,300 hand-held electric planers to Australia (started export of electric power tools).
  • Changed the trade name to Makita Electric Works, Ltd.
  • Changed the notation of the Company’s name from Makita using kanji (Chinese characters) to Makita using katakana (a Japanese syllabary) to make it more approachable in preparation for expanding into the global market.
  • Became an entirely debt-free company.
  • Launch of 6500D battery-powered drill (first rechargeable power tool).

Enhancement of the Mass Production System and Global Strategy

In 1970, established a new facility (Okazaki Plant) with modern mass production facilities. Thereafter, Makita introduced the latest machinery and equipment and established a production system that can accommodate an increase in demand and requirements for quality improvement. In the 1980s, a shift to computer-controlled automation of production progressed in the manufacturing industry in Japan. Makita worked to further increase the production speed and improve quality by promoting streamlining and automation of production facilities at Okazaki Plant.

A billboard for advertising in the suburbs of London

On the sales and marketing front, Makita established overseas subsidiaries one after another and worked to expand exports. In 1970, Makita established Makita U.S.A., the first overseas subsidiary, and Masahiko Goto (current Chairman and Representative Director) was stationed at the new subsidiary. However, the U.S. is the home to electric power tools, and the U.S. market has numerous makers in fierce competition with each other. Therefore, the Company was unable to turn the situation around for the better. In addition, the yen appreciated rapidly in 1973 following the introduction of the floating exchange rate regime, and Makita U.S.A.’s financial conditions deteriorated. In accordance with the management policy that calls for a “proactive management approach in times of recession,” Makita established sales and service bases in major cities in the U.S., including Chicago and Los Angeles, and provided finely-tuned support to customers’ needs. Amid such situation, the quality of products produced by Japanese manufacturers, such as Toyota and Sony, drew the attention of American consumers, which paved the way for Makita to gradually grow sales in the U.S. market. Subsequently, Makita’s products steadily penetrated the North American market based on the products’ good reputation for cost-effectiveness and the high-quality after-sales services from users and distributors.

Makita subsequently established overseas subsidiaries one after another in France, the U.K., and Australia and expanded its market, and its finely-tuned sales and marketing strategies suited to the situation of each country steadily produced results. Makita thus grew into a global company.

  • Designated on the 1st Section of the Tokyo, Nagoya stock exchanges.
    The total number of issued shares was 24.0 million with 4,771 shareholders. Foreign investors accounted for 11.66% of the total, indicating that the Company also became a global company in terms of the geographical distribution of its shareholders.
  • Completion of Okazaki Plant
  • Established Makita U.S.A. (the first overseas subsidiary)
  • Started production of power tools in Brazil.
    In those days, Brazil imposed strict import restrictions, and Makita started production with a knock-down production system (importing parts for local assembly).
  • Started production of power tools in the U.S.
    Makita shifted from export to production in the consuming area, and the U.S. plant became the first overseas factory to start full-scale production.
  • Manufacturing and assembly line in Makita Corporation of America.
Establishment of overseas subsidiaries
  • In the 1970s
    U.S.A., France, U.K., Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Germany
  • In the 1980s
    Brazil, Austria, Singapore, Taiwan, Spain

Transformation from an exporting company to a global company

From the 1970s to the early 1990s, Makita was required to deal with trade friction involving dumping charges and the yen’s appreciation on its way to expanding business globally. Turning to the domestic market, the Japanese economy was hit by the Heisei recession with an uncertain outlook that had persisted since the burst of the bubble economy in 1990. Under such unstable circumstances, President Masahiko Goto (the current Chairman and Representative Director) set out “Strong Company” as a key phrase for the Company’s long-term goal. This phrase expresses the Company’s commitment to becoming a strong company unaffected by changes in the external environment, such as exchange rates.

Opening ceremony of Makita (China) Co., Ltd. (in 1995)

A company cannot avoid foreign exchange risk no matter how much effort a company puts in as long as it continues exporting products. In order to overcome this foreign exchange risk, it is essential that the company enhances local production further. Makita, which had already started local production in the U.S. and Brazil, launched production of power tools in the U.K. in 1991 and in China in 1995. The Company thus promoted a shift in production to overseas factories and transformed itself from an exporting company to a true global company.

On the development front, Makita became the first in the industry to start sales of battery-powered impact drivers equipped with lithium-ion batteries in 2005, successfully increasing the service life of batteries, as well as downsizing products, reducing their weight, and increasing the power of equipment. Also in 2005, Makita launched electric rotary hammer drills equipped with Anti Vibration Technology (AVT), and they achieved a 20% improvement in work efficiency and approx. 30% reduction in vibration compared with conventional models. These lithium-ion battery powered products and AVT-based products had a great impact on the market and led to a dramatic increase in sales for Makita. At the same time, Makita’s high technological capabilities became known all around the world and contributed significantly to boosting the image of the Makita brand.
  • Acquired Sachs Dolmar GmbH, a chainsaw manufacturer (in Germany) (current Makita Engineering Germany GmbH).
  • Changed the company name to Makita Corporation.
  • Makita adopted a new company logo mark designed by industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, to make it more accessible to global customers.
  • Started production of power tools in the U.K.
  • Started production of power tools in China
    Established a plant in China as the first production base in Asia. The plant has become the hub of the Group’s global supply chain networks.
  • Launched TD130D battery-powered impact driver (first lithium-ion battery tool).
  • Launched HR4011C, an AVT-equipped hammer drill.
  • Started sales of power tools in Romania.
Establishment of overseas subsidiaries
  • In the 1990s
    Denmark (branch office), Hong Kong, New Zealand, China, Poland, Mexico, Czech Republic, Hungary, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Chile, Greece
  • In the 2000s
    Romania, Switzerland, Finland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Estonia (branch office), Peru, Bulgaria, India, Columbia, Sweden (branch office), Norway (branch office), Vietnam

Strengthening the lineup of battery-powered gardening tools

After adopting lithium-ion batteries for power tools ahead of others in the industry in 2005, Makita focused on enhancing the lineup of such products. In 2009, Makita geared up its efforts for developing outdoor power equipment (OPE), with an eye to developing OPE into the next pillar of business after power tools.

In 2012, Makita developed a battery-powered mower which was lightweight and easy-to-handle, yet powerful, and allowed for speedy mowing.

Makita celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015. One of the major strategies Makita has set with an eye to the next 100 years is “shifting from engine-powered to battery-powered.” By leveraging its proprietary motor and recharging technologies cultivated through power tools, Makita will promote the shift in the mainstream of OPE products from engine-powered to battery-powered. In addition, To create a carbon neutral society, the Company will continue to attempt new things to survive under any business environment.

  • Started production of power tools in Thailand
  • Celebrated the 100th anniversary.
  • Started marketing the Gold Color series as the 100th anniversary special model.
  • Launched the Li-ion 40Vmax series
  • Launched a series of cordless tools with higher power, longer lifespans, and higher durability than conventional cordless versions. Continued to further technological innovation by outfitting systems to optimize charging/discharging.
Establishment of overseas subsidiaries
  • In the 2010s
    Thailand, Slovenia, Malaysia, Panama (branch office), Kazakhstan, Bolivia (branch office), South Korea(Technology Development), TanzaniaIn the 2020s
    Taiwan (procurement)
  • Terminated production of engine-powered equipment
  • Accelerated the replacement of engine-powered products with cordless products. Terminated the production of engine-powered equipment to help promote decarbonization.