The DNA of Sunstar for value creation Fostering diverse strengths by pursuing the purpose of the company
Since its establishment in 1932, the Sunstar Group has boldly engaged in the creation of various businesses and expanded its business domain while nurturing its diverse strengths. During that time, we have strived to survive and grow while constantly refining our purpose and transforming the direction of our business. Looking to the future, in order to address the new societal demands of the SDGs and ESG, in 2019 we established the Sunstar Group Long-Term Vision 2032, which sets out the ideal image we intend to realize by 2032, the 100th anniversary of our founding. We are committed to becoming a company with high social impact in the future. We will unfold the story of Sunstar’s journey and unravel Sunstar’s value creation DNA’s to keep meeting the needs of the times, as we have always done.
Diversify business by cultivating unique strengths originating from bicycles
Sunstar traces its origins to “Kaneda Keitei Shokai,” a private wholesaler of bicycle parts established in Osaka in 1932 by founder Kunio Kaneda, who was born in a small village surrounded by sea and mountains in Hiroshima Prefecture. He had his sights set on the bicycle industry, which was rapidly booming as a new industry. The company’s first hit product was rubber glue for fixing punctured tires. Previously, rubber glue had been sold in large cans; Kaneda’s innovation was to package it in small metal tubes for easier use. He then used the same production facilities to create metal tubes filled with toothpaste, his next success. At a time when toothpaste was still predominantly sold in powder form, Kaneda developed and commercialized processing methods for his tubed toothpaste from scratch, and it was praised for its ease of use, its quality, and its’ refreshing flavor. The company rapidly grew its oral care business to include toothbrushes in addition to toothpaste, then expanded into other sectors such as cosmetics and health foods.
In 1979, Sunstar began sending researchers to the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, which was renowned across the world for its dental research. Over the course of 10 years of joint research into periodontal disease, Sunstar identified cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) as an antiseptic capable of effectively killing the bacteria responsible for causing periodontal disease; in 1989, it launched its GUM range of products, and became a major player as a total care brand for periodontal disease prevention.
Sunstar transitioned from producing rubber glue to producing adhesives for automotive and construction use, anticipating greater growth in these sectors. In 1967, it entered into a technical partnership with Essex Chemical, a U.S. company with world-leading technologies, and expanded its business significantly on the back of heightened technical prowess. Sunstar has developed diverse adhesives that cater in detail to the requests of Japanese automotive manufacturers, and today sells products to automakers across the globe.
Sunstar also successfully shifted its bicycle parts business to create metal parts for motorcycles, which was believed to have greater potential for growth. Top racing teams now use Sunstar’s race-specific brake discs at motorcycle races around the world; the performance and quality of its discs are well-established, and Sunstar has developed into a leading brand cherished by large numbers of motorbike afficionados. Evidently, through constant innovation, we have expanded our strengths and developed in each of our businesses.
Establishment of management philosophy as a principle to overcome various difficulties and expand the purpose
For a company to grow, it is vital that its founder’s DNA is passed on to successive generations. And Sunstar was required to ensure this happened when founder Kunio Kaneda, who had demonstrated unparalleled business sense, passed away at the age of just 50. In 1963, a year after founder’s death, Hiroo Kaneda—then senior managing director and later president—oversaw the creation of the Sunstar’s Corporate Motto, “Always strive to help people everywhere achieve better health and enhance their quality of life,” which would become a source of emotional strength for the company’s employees. The motto incorporates Sunstar’s desire to contribute to society through oral health, physical and mental health, and enabling people to live wholesome lives. We continued to create high guidelines for employees to aim for by establishing basic management principles and a code of conduct for employees, and created an explanatory booklet that translates the code of conduct into nine languages to ensure understanding of the principles among all employees.
Encouraging awareness of the relationship between oral and general health
Based on the above principles, in 1977 Sunstar established the Sunstar Dental Health Promotion Foundation—the predecessor to the present-day Sunstar Foundation—to provide grants for research into dental health, and to educate the public on dental and oral hygiene. After collaborating with various dental health experts, Sunstar became one of the first entities to identify a close relationship between periodontal diseases and systemic disorders such as diabetes. Together with the late Dr. Robert J. Genco, who was then an up-and-coming researcher at The State University of New York and who would go on to become a leading authority on periodontal disease, and with Dr. George L. King at the Harvard-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center, the world’s largest diabetes research center, Sunstar has hosted symposiums on the subject of periodontal disease and diabetes for medical and dental experts around the world. In addition, the company is supporting the growth of young researchers studying the relationship between oral and general health. In recent years, together with Dr. Katsuya Iijima of the University of Tokyo, a specialist in Gerontology and one of the proponents of oral frailty (the deterioration of mouth function accelerates aging), the Japan Dental Association, and other experts, we have been working quickly to raise awareness of the prevention of oral frailty, in which a frail mouth accelerates the aging process throughout the body.
Developing a health food business based on enhancing employee health and providing a healthy air environment
In order to realize its Corporate Motto and provide products and services for health promotion, Sunstar recognized that it ought to first ensure that its own employees were in good health. Accordingly, in 1985 the Sunstar Mind and Body Kenkodojo (health training center) was established to promote healthy lifestyle habits among its employees. Sunstar’s Kenkodojo brand of health foods was inspired by healthy food provided at this center. Indeed, in Japan, Sunstar has been recognized as Certified Health & Productivity Management Outstanding Organization every year since the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry launched the recognition program in 2017. In 2019, Sunstar launched its QAIS -air- range of deodorization and sterilization systems in a bid to improve health by effectively sterilizing, deodorizing, and controlling bacteria and viruses present in indoor air environments in Japan.
Realization of long-term vision toward the 100th anniversary and contributions to the wellbeing of people around the world
In 2017, Sunstar Group Representative Yoshihiro Kaneda spearheaded an initiative to draw up more concrete management objectives, as a way of achieving its ultimate goal: the realization of the Corporate Motto. In 2019, Sunstar announced the Sunstar Group Long-Term Vision 2032, a set of goals to be achieved by 2032, on its 100th anniversary. We aim to be a company that contributes to solving social issues through our business as a provider of products and services that support healthy and comfortable living, including the mouth, the body, the air environment surrounding the body, living spaces, and mobile spaces. In addition, we have declared that we will firmly face our social responsibilities, such as environmental issues and improvement of our employees’ well-being.
Looking ahead, in the face of increasingly complex and severe social issues such as rapidly changing global conditions, climate change, population growth, super-aging societies, and infectious diseases, Sunstar is advancing various discussions toward further evolution of our long-term vision and development of new businesses and services. We aim to find solutions and contribute to society by leveraging the various strengths we have cultivated throughout our over 90 years of experience in multiple businesses.
Actively cultivating an open dialogue with global stakeholders and communities, Sunstar aims to proactively anticipate and meet the demands of this new era through our unique approach to Well-being & ESG Management. We invite you to anticipate a promising and impactful future with Sunstar.