By Mike Santora
It would have been all but impossible to predict anything like the concept of modern motion control 456 years ago. Forget the modern coupling, not even the pencil (1564) had been invented when Nabeya Kogyo Kaisha (NBK) was founded in 1560. So, while the motion control component company’s new U.S. subsidiary NBK America LLC is new to us, (May 2015) the organization itself is anything but a newcomer.
Coupling Tips recently caught up with NBK America’s Western region sales manager, Geoffrey Glibas, to learn about some of the company’s history and what we can expect out of its King of Prussia, PA-based headquarters in the near future.
“It’s an interesting story. In 1560 the company began making metal goods like pots, temple bells and lanterns–one of which is still in the Imperial Palace to this day. This led to the title “Licensed Foundry Craftsmen” from the Imperial Court. The company name, “Nabeya,” literally means ‘pan shop.’ Flash forward to 1940, NBK was established as a manufacturer of power transmission equipment. Present day, as of 2001, NBK is now Nabeya Bi-tech Kaisha. Which brings us to May of 2015 some months ago. While we’ve been big in Asia for years, this is now the first time establishing our own subsidiary in the U.S. although we’ve sold through distributors here.”
It’s clear that tradition remains an important part of the company’s identity. “After all these centuries, the company is still family owned,” said Glibas. However, a big move like this also signals a comfort with new corporate strategies. We asked Glibas why, after a four-century run in Japan, has the company just now decided to commit to a stateside home? Further more, why are couplings such an important part of NBK America’s product offerings?
“Good question. To serve the market basically, that’s the summary answer, to serve the market. NBK has always stood for products built for the times in which we live. We live in modern times and we want to be able to serve the entrepreneurial spirit of America and all the wonderful products that are coming out of everything from semiconductors, medical devices, robotics, precision instruments, scientific instruments. All of those kinds of businesses can benefit from the know-how that NBK’s developed through the years.”
With the countless applications for a ubiquitous component like a coupling, , we were interested in what markets NBK felt were driving company growth. If the market had been informing NBK on where to focus its attention, what arenas were seeing the greatest need for its products?
“I’d probably say the medical device and precision motion arenas. People always want to get it a little faster, a little more accurate. What can you do for me lately? I think the medical device market has seen a lot of growth. Semiconductors, that market saw a lot of growth in the past, but now we’re seeing more of a steady, sustained market. We still do a lot with LCD manufacturing in Asia as well though.”
With the pots and pans of its past put away, NBK America LLC appears to have its couplings line primed for the North American spotlight. The medical industry is advancing at a blistering pace, semiconductors are proving to be stable and general coupling market growth is expected through 2020. The landscape looks promising, but only time will tell what’s in store for NBK ‘s next 456 years.
Filed Under: Coupling Tips