Tamron Company Ltd.
Tamron Company Ltd.
1385 Hasunuma, Minuma-ku
Telephone: (81) 048 684 9111
Fax: (81) 048 683 8282
Web site: http://www.tamron.co.jp
Incorporated: 1952 as Taisei Kogaku Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Sales: ¥59.61 billion ($557.6 million) (2005)
Stock Exchanges: Tokyo
Ticker Symbol: 7740
NAIC: 333314 Optical Instrument and Lens Manufacturing
Tamron Company Ltd. is leveraging its position as a world-leading manufacturer of camera and binocular lenses to transform itself into a major opto-electronics producer. The Japanese company's Photographic Products division produces camera lenses, zoom lenses, and interchangeable lens systems, as well as medium-range cameras. This division accounts for less than 20 percent of group sales, however, as a result of the company's launch of its Optical Components division, which produces lenses for digital still cameras, camcorders, and, since 2005, cellular telephone-based cameras. The Optical Components division is Tamron's fastest growing, accounting for nearly 70 percent of group sales.
Tamron has further extended its range into the broader opto-electronics field, forming its Commercial/Industrial-use Optics division, which produces lenses used in closed-circuit television systems, surveillance systems, image processing and projection systems, as well as high-precision molds, injection-molded parts and components, and other optical devices and systems. The broadening of the group's product lines has enabled the company nearly to double its sales since the beginning of the 2000s. Tamron operates three production facilities in Hirosaki, Namioka, and Owani, in Japan, and a fourth facility in Foshan, China. Approximately 31 percent of the company's sales, which neared ¥60 billion ($560 million) in 2005, come from outside Japan, with the Asian region accounting for 16 percent of group revenues. Nearly half of the company's revenues come from a single customer, Sony EMSC Corporation. In addition, the company operates sales and distribution subsidiaries in the United States, Germany, France, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Tamron is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Morio Ono is president and CEO.
LENS MOUNT INNOVATOR IN 1959
Tamron was founded in 1950 by Takeyuki Arai as Taisei Kogaku Kogyo (Taisei Optical Equipment Manufacturing) in Urawa-city. The company launched production of camera and binocular lenses that year, then formally incorporated in 1952. Much of the group's development of optical equipment was led by Uhyone Tamura, an optics designer, under whom the company launched its breakthrough product, the first interchangeable lens system for single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, in 1957. The company also introduced a high-performance lens that year, the 135 millimeter F4.5 lens. Tamura's efforts for the company were rewarded with the creation of a new brand name, Tamron, based on Tamura's name and introduced in 1959.
In that same year, the company had cemented its international status with the debut of the T-mount, a universal interchangeable mounting system that could be adapted to nearly every existing camera. Invented by Arai himself, the T-mount represented something of a revolution for the camera industry, and especially for professional photographers. Instead of being required to invest in a complete set of lenses for each camera they owned, photographers were able to use a single set of lenses on a variety of cameras. Backing up the launch of the T-mount, the company moved to a new headquarters and production plant in Hasunuma, Omiya-city in 1959.
Taisei innovated again at the beginning of the 1960s, becoming the first to develop a mass-produced zoom lens, featuring a range between 95 and 205 millimeters, in 1961. The introduction of large-scale production techniques helped to reduce the cost of zoom lenses, bringing them within the budgets of the mass of hobbyist photographers. As such, Taisei played an important part in the great photography boom of the 1960s. Photography rapidly became a popular hobby worldwide, before becoming a ubiquitous consumer product.
Taisei remained focused on the higher-end, high-quality market, a commitment underscored by the group's entry into the production of high-precision lenses and prisms in 1966, including lenses for the television broadcasting industry. In that year, as well, the company introduced its own lens testing platform and a new generation of its interchangeable lens systems, called the Adapt-a-Matic, which also offered automatic aperture control. The rising popularity of the Tamron brand prompted the company to adopt the name as its own in 1970. By then, Tamron had opened a new factory, in Hirosaki, where it expanded its product range to include lenses for photocopying machines, as well as its SLR camera lenses and television camera lenses. Later in the decade, Tamron launched its latest innovation, the Adaptall lens, which included a quick-focus system, among other features.
INTERNATIONAL SALES GROWTH BEGINNING IN 1979
The growing popularity—and then dominance—of Japanese camera brands on the international market offered new sales opportunities for Tamron. The company's lens mounting systems and their adaptability to a wide variety of camera models and brands found strong demand worldwide. To support its growing international sales, Tamron opened its first overseas sales office, Tamron Industries Inc., in the United States in 1979. In that year, the company also launched a new lens line, the Super Performance series. The SP series represented the company's high-end, and high-performance, range, and remained a top-seller for the company into the 2000s.
Tamron also began producing lenses and zoom lenses for the growing new video camera market. In 1981, for example, the company launched a new 6X zoom lens. Production of these and other company products was assured by the expansion of the company's Hirosaki factory in 1981. By 1983, the company's video camera lens line had been expanded with a new integrated video camera lens.
Tamron also continued to build up its international sales network, adding new sales and distribution subsidiaries in Germany and Hong Kong in 1982. In Japan, meanwhile, the company had begun an effort to diversify its operations beyond lens production. In 1984, for example, the company established a new optics subsidiary, Optech Tamron Company, with a site in Namioka-machi. Optech Tamron was later merged into Tamron in 1991.
Meanwhile, in 1985, Tamron added precision molding capacity, establishing subsidiary Tamron Fine-Giken Company. The company boosted its moldings business in 1986 with the creation of a new factory in Owani-machi. As support for this expansion, Tamron went public, listing its shares on the over-the-counter (OTC) market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1984.
Corporate Philosophy: With its firm commitment to developing high-quality, innovative and technologically advanced products that satisfy customer needs, Tamron is securing a leading position in the worldwide optical industry. Our primary objective is to sustain strong corporate growth based on a high level of customer satisfaction achieved by providing superior products at the right price, thus also contributing to the prosperity of our shareholders and employees. We at Tamron are advancing with our corporate philosophy to guide our mission.
By 1985, the company's diversification effort had led to the launch of a new product, the Fotovix film video processor. This product enabled the transfer of photographs and slides to videotape (and later to DVD) and remained a popular product until it was discontinued at the start of the 21st century. Tamron also continued to develop new lenses, such as the Vari-Focal lens, for use in closed-circuit television systems, introduced in 1986. By 1989, the company had launched a new 1/2-inch Vari-Focal lens with a 6 to 12 millimeter range.
FOCUS ON DIGITAL FOR THE NEW CENTURY
Tamron opened a new subsidiary in Mexico in 1992. The company also released a new SLR zoom lens that year, the SP AF35-105 mm F2.8. The company increasingly targeted the compact, lightweight zoom lens segment, launching the AF28-200 mm F3.8-5.6 that year as well. Both lenses were well received and won industry awards.
Tamron extended its European presence in 1995, adding a sales subsidiary in the United Kingdom. In that year, as well, Tamron moved into the production of cameras for the first time, when it acquired 75 percent of Japanese camera maker Zenza Bronica Co. Ltd. Founded in the 1950s by Zenzaburo Yoshino, that company initially focused on camera design, launching the Bronica Z, based on Nikon lenses, in 1958. The success of that model helped establish Bronica as a top-selling maker of medium-format SLR cameras. Tamron continued to release new Bronica models through the end of the decade, including the well-received Ranger-finder RF645, introduced in 2001. The company also acquired full control of Bronica in 1998, merging the camera-maker into its own operations.
Tamron set up a new distribution subsidiary in Hong Kong in 1997, in support of the launch of the company's first foreign manufacturing plant, which opened in Foshan, China, that same year. The company also established a new sales subsidiary in France in 2000. The expanded manufacturing, sales, and distribution operations helped support the company's continuing rollout of new products at the start of the 21st century, including the latest in the award-winning SP series, such as the AF28-200mm Super XR F/3.8-5.6 Aspherical [IF] Macro, launched in 2001, and the AF28-300mm Ultra Zoom XR F/3.5-6.3 LD Aspherical [IF] Macro, launched in 2002.
Yet the emergence of digital camera technologies in the early 2000s, and the rapid expansion of the digital camera market in both the professional and consumer markets, placed Tamron under pressure. In response, the company began developing its own line of digital camera lenses, launching its first "DI" series lens in 2003. The company's efforts were quickly rewarded, as its DI line began tallying up a series of international awards.
- Takeyuki Arai founds a company for the production of lenses for cameras and binoculars in Urawa-city, Japan.
- The company incorporates as Taisei Kogaku Kogyo (Taisei Optical Equipment Manufacturing) Company.
- The company introduces the first interchangeable SLR lens system.
- The company launches the T-mount universal lens adapter system and adopts the Tamron trademark.
- The company name is changed to Tamron Company.
- Tamron establishes its first overseas subsidiary in the United States.
- The company sets up its first European subsidiary in Germany, and opens a sales subsidiary in Hong Kong.
- Tamron goes public with a listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's OTC market.
- The company diversifies into precision molding through subsidiary Tamron Fine-Giken, and launches the Fotovix film video processor system.
- A subsidiary is founded in Mexico.
- The company adds a sales subsidiary in the United Kingdom; a majority stake is acquired in Zenza Bronica Co., a maker of medium-format SLR cameras established in the 1950s.
- The company establishes a manufacturing plant in Foshan, China.
- The company launches its first digital camera lenses.
- Tamron introduces the first lenses for cellular telephones; a new subsidiary is added in Shanghai.
The emergence of the digital photography era also encouraged Tamron to adopt a new strategy into the mid-2000s, with a focus on enhancing the group's optical technologies, and in developing new capacity in optics-linked electronics technologies. An example of this was the 2005 launch of the company's first line of camera lenses specifically developed for the booming mixed-used cellular telephone market, including the market's smallest camera lens—at just eight millimeters. In support of the surging demand for new generation lenses, Tamron opened a new subsidiary in Shanghai in 2005. Tamron had successfully navigated the transition to the digital era and appeared certain to maintain its position as a worldwide reference in precision optics.
Tamron Europe GmbH (Germany); Tamron France EURL; Tamron Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd.; Tamron Optical (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (China); Tamron Optical (Foshan) Co., Ltd. (China); Tamron USA, Inc.
Canon Inc.; 3M Co.; Olympus Corporation; Northrop Grumman Corporation Electronic Sensors and Systems Division; Nikon Corporation; Citizen Watch Company Ltd.; Hoya Corporation; Magna Donnelly Corporation; JENOPTIK AG; BelOMA; Bausch and Lomb Inc.
Ayers, Michael, "Take a Trip with Tamron," Photo District News, October 2005, p. S20.
Keppler, Herbert, "Tamron Breaks the 28-200mm Close Focusing Barrier," Popular Photography, November 1996, p. 15.
Stensvold, Mike, "Tamron Zooms," Petersen's Photographic, October 1985, p. 6.
"Tamron: Optical Experts with 50+ Years of Experience," Advanced Imaging, July-August 2003, p. 46.
"Tamron Zooms," Petersen's Photographic, April 1994, p. 56.
"Top Camera Lens Makers in Japan Boost Production As Global Demand Grows," AgenceFrancePresse, April 8, 2003.