Sunstar’s 80 Year
Growing into a unique
The origin of Sunstar dates back to 1932 when Kaneda Keitei Shokai was founded and began manufacturing and selling of rubber glue for bicycles. By applying the manufacturing technology used in pouring rubber glue into metal-tube containers, the company developed and introduced toothpaste in tube containers in 1946, when mainstream dentifrices were still in powder form. This was the first “Sunstar toothpaste” and later formed the company’s core business.
This business grew and led to the Oral Care and Health & Beauty businesses with an emphasis on the promotion of oral and whole body health. The company name “Sunstar” was derived from the idea of brushing teeth in the morning as the Sun comes out and again at night under the stars.
Meanwhile, the business of rubber glue and parts for bicycles developed into the Chemical business -synthetic adhesive agents and sealants for automobile production and construction application- and the motorcycle business -disc parts such as sprockets and brake.
Sunstar continues to promote the further development of businesses in four fields; Oral Care, Health & Beauty, Chemical and Motorcycle. Sunstar also creates new businesses by integrating and combining technologies fostered through our four business sectors.
Sunstar’s early years
Sunstar’s journey begins with an entrepreneurial spirit and an ambitious dream. In 1932, our founder enters the bicycle parts business with a creative innovation that revolutionizes the industry: rubber cement in a portable metal tube for tire repairs on the go! Quickly we become the market leader. Our focus on bicycles expands in 1954 when we start to produce gear cranks.
In 1946, we transform the oral care industry with Sunstar Toothpaste in a tube. The Sunstar name is created as an important oral care reminder: “Brush your teeth with the sun in the morning and with the stars at night.” From 6% in 1949 to 38% in 1954, the market share of Sunstar Toothpaste continues to grow.
In 1956, Brushless Shaving Cream in a tube innovates shaving and becomes an immediate success.
Sunstar enters new business areas & forms global affiliations
As a result of continuous innovation, Sunstar claims leadership in oral care. We become one of Japan’s leading toothbrush manufacturers and enter other consumer goods markets – particularly detergents, shaving products, and chewing gum.
Pursuing an international business plan, we establish a joint venture with a major U.S. hair care company and launch VO5 Hair Spray in 1966.
In 1967, we establish Sunstar Essex Chemical Company as a joint venture with a U.S. chemical company to produce sealants for automobile windows and building construction.
With success and expansion in our bicycle sprockets business, we broaden our horizons and excel in motorcycle sprockets.
Sunstar experiences rapid growth
During a milestone decade, the demand for automotive sealants grows and Sunstar gains top market share.
We continue to innovate in the oral care category with clear, anti-cavity and chlorophyll-based toothpastes. We strengthen our cosmetics strategy by forging new affiliations with overseas firms. By 1976, Sunstar leads the hair care sector with VO5. We open new opportunities in the barber business with the debut of Sunstar Tonic Shampoo.
In 1972, Sunstar enters the luggage business with Lark Luggage Company. Against a backdrop of rapid growth in the two-wheeled vehicle market, we focus on high-performance, high-quality motorcycle sprockets and parts as a core business. In 1976, our reputation and success surge with a major order from Harley-Davidson.
Sunstar expands globally
During the 1980s, Sunstar builds a worldwide network of experts with global thinking at the heart of our growth strategy. We set up production and sales facilities for motorcycle parts, adhesives and sealants in the United States and in Thailand.
With the acquisition of the John O. Butler Company – respected for its pioneering toothbrush technology – we experience dramatic growth through its global network, which includes existing operations in Sweden and Canada. With the launch of the G･U･M brand in 1989, we further define our role as a global leader in fighting and preventing periodontal disease.
Building on a healthy lifestyle philosophy of holistic mind and body wellness, we enter the health food market with vitamin supplements in 1983, open the KENKODOJO Holistic Health Center in 1985, and launch KENKODOJO Natural Foods & Beverages in 1988.
Sunstar expands business in Asia & implements environmental management
With the introduction of Periocline in 1990 in Japan, Sunstar strengthens its portfolio in the fight against periodontal disease with the world’s first antibiotic treatment for within the oral cavity. Developed to absorb and remove dental plaque, Ora² was launched in 1998 in Japan.
The 1990s mark growth and continuing success in hair care with the VO5 and Tonic brands. In 1992, we open Sunstar Deutschland GmbH near Frankfurt, Germany. Singapore becomes our manufacturing control center for Southeast Asia.
In 1995, we establish Sunstar Engineering Indonesia to produce motorcycle components. We open manufacturing and sales operations in Guangzhou, China in the late 1990s.
We recognize environmental conservation as a major issue and implement ongoing initiatives such as Dry Mark’s Dry Up detergent in 1993 and the EcoCart cartridge in 1998.
Towards further growth and development
Establishment of the Global Headquarters in Switzerland
In 2000, the ISO 14001 certification, which is the international standard for environmental management, was granted to all our manufacturing sites in Japan. Sunstar’s environmentally friendly initiatives led to the development of the “Eco CAN” .
In 2004, Sunstar acquired Braking S.p.A. (now Sunstar Engineering Europe GmbH – Italian Branch), an Italian manufacturer of brake discs for innovation in the motorcycle business. We also established an automobile adhesives development and sales base in Guangzhou, China.
In 2005, the premium quality skin care range “EQUITANCE” was launched.
Following Europe and North America, new sales offices were established in Mexico (2004), Argentina (2007), and Colombia (2008).
In 2008, we completed the development of the “Butler SG” oral care products for mucosal erosion.
In 2009, the first Headquarters building was completed in Etoy, Switzerland. In Asia, a factory was built in Singapore to serve as a production base for motorcycle parts, supplying our factories in Thailand, Indonesia, and the United States.
Progressing to a Global Sunstar
Global business investments
In 2011, Sunstar acquired the Interbros GmbH company in Germany to increase the production capacity of toothbrushes and interdental brushes, and launched the new product “GUM Soft-Picks”, the interdental rubber brush that helped expand sales globally. Sunstar also acquired Degradable Solutions AG in Switzerland, to enhance our portfolio with superior quality bio-absorbable dental materials.
In 2013, the Singapore factory established its new product development center for the Industrial and Consumer businesses.
Since 2014, Sunstar has expanded the business of fine blanking automobile metal parts produced in Indonesia and Thailand. A new sales base for the consumer business was opened in Brazil.
2015 saw the completion of the second Headquarters building in Etoy.
In 2016, a new factory and development center for the consumer business was opened in Chicago, USA. The new product “BUTLER GrindCare” was launched in Europe as a new business category for managing sleep bruxism.
In 2017, Sunstar acquired the distributor Oral Company International BV, to strengthen our consumer business sales in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Sunstar also acquired the U-Vix Corporation, which has advanced photocatalytic deodorization and sterilization technologies, in order to enter the new business of improving indoor air quality.
In 2018, a new sales office for the consumer business was opened in Poland.
In 2019, Sunstar acquired TSUBAMEX Co., Ltd., a mold fabrication and metal processing company that owns high precision molding technologies to strengthen the metal processing business. We also opened a new base for automobile adhesives development, manufacturing, and sales in Germany. We also acquired GelX to strengthen our position as a global healthcare leader.
In 2020, we announced our COVID-19 measures and donation of over 85,000 oral care products to healthcare professionals, patients and at-risk groups in the most affected countries. We also transferred the GUIDOR brand.