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It makes perfect sense that a sports equipment firm should take the name ASICS. This is because it is an acronym for a Latin phrase about health - "anima sana in corpore sano". That translates to "a healthy mind in a healthy body." Clearly, the company's goal has more to do with true health and wellbeing than pure profit.

In fact their corporate goals put an emphasis on creating value for customers but also working to build a healthier society. The company is reaching such goals through a multi-pronged approach that considers the individual, the environment, a humane corporate culture, fair business, and more. This all makes sense when you discover that the firm was started by someone who upheld all of these goals.


After demobilization from service during World War II, company founder Kihachiro Onitsuka started to make basketball shoes in his hometown of Kobe, Japan. Because of the recent war, things like shoes for school age children were not widely available, and so the factory (with four employees) provided a lot of necessary options (shoes, work, and economic stimulus).

It was at this time that Onitsuka heard the Latin phrase he would choose as the name of his firm, from a former comrade, and which shaped the foundation of his business goals and model. Fostering healthy young people and rebuilding a better world were his goals.

By 1950, the firm had released its first basketball shoes, and by 1953 the first volleyball shoes hit the market. Though the firm was only three years old, by 1953 it also had established the Tiger Rubber Factory (an in-house firm) to supply the company with its needs.

As the years flew by, the firm made boots, running shoes, and introduced many other innovations. By 1957 it had become so large that it had to be reorganized as Onitsuka Co. Ltd.

At the same time that Onitsuka's empire was growing, two others were also shaping up to become major players in the sporting equipment world. The firms that would eventually become GTO and JELENK (makers of sportswear, gear, and related products) were also thriving during the post World War II period.

By 1959, however, Onitsuka's firm had grown so extensively that it became a public business rather than a family firm, and 70% of the stock was in the hands of the employees. By then, the firm was known as a major sports shoe brand responsible for running, climbing, and many other types of active footwear. Roughly ten years later, the firm appears in the American markets, and in 1977 Onitsuka Co., Ltd., GTO Co., Ltd., and Jelenk Co., Ltd. came together to create the ASICS Corp. to operate as a more general manufacturer of sportswear.

Further Developments

Interestingly enough, before the appearance of ASICS, the brand we now know as Nike appeared (with the original name of BRS) in order to sell Onitsuka's shoes in the United States. However, the firm has never acquired any of its distributors or become involved in ownership of distribution channels. Today it has several subsidiaries:

* Haglofs (the latest addition, it is a Swedish outdoor brand that has been in business since 1914, and which was acquired in 2010. It has a product line of more than 500 goods emphasizing footwear, clothing, and gear.)

* ASICS Tiger Corporation

* ASICS Sports Corporation

* ASICS Europe

* ASICS Tiger Oceana Pty

* ASICS Tiger do Brasil Ltda.

Additionally, the company underwrites and supports several facilities that emphasize its mission. The ASICS Sports Museum is a totally interactive museum that allows visitors to experience the diversity of sporting equipment and footwear the company produces. The ASICS Institute of Sport Science (True Sports Science) is staffed by professional scientists whose goal is to design and provide the kinds of "performance" features needed by those using their company's goods.

The company also, as mentioned, places a profound emphasis on sustainability and an approach that upholds the founder's beliefs and focuses on four "pillars" of environment/community, products/services, fair business/profit sharing, and governance/employee.

Still based in Japan, the firm consistently produces some of the highest quality sports goods, apparel, and footwear with an emphasis on track and field, volleyball, football, netball, tennis, running, martial arts, golf, lacrosse, cheerleading, training, trail, wrestling, and triathlon.


ASICS. ASICS at a Glance. 2014.

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