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The beginning of Sanden – Feature Article (2 of 3)

Mr. Kaihei Ushikubo started it all for Sanden. He was 34 and managing a textile mill when World War II broke out. At this time, private sector manufacturing plants were enforced to either shift into the sector of ammunition producing plants or close their business. [1] This is how the predecessor of The Sanden Corporation was created, in 1943, with 198,000 Yen, which in today’s terms is round about £1,400; it was named The Sankyo Electric Company. (The original site the company was built on, is where the present Head Office of Sanden is still currently located today!)  Mr. Ushikubo’s company showed great aptitude for flexibility and was able to adapt quickly to the changes happening in the world around it.  The company was very electronically minded, and technology driven and specialised in mica-condensers, wireless communication devices and paper-condensers, to name a few. These were developed using synthetic resin molding.

In 1948, after the war was over, Mr. Ushikubo set about developing dynamo lighting bicycle sets. Throughout the war, most of his task force had been riding to work on bicycles and they had been his inspiration for the product.  A sales campaign was run on dynamo bicycle lamps with a trademark “Owl” shining in the darkness, with slogans “Second sight in the night” and “A thousand times brighter than a full moon” [2] By 1953, it was producing 30,000 units a month, securely establishing itself as a permanent fixture in the dynamo bicycle lamp business sector [3]

JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) were launched for the dynamo bicycle lamps in the early 1950’s. The low-voltage method designed by Sankyo Electric Company became fundamental criteria for the JIS; following this, in 1953, the company started exporting the dynamos. The company also began moving into the electric home-appliance market and the refrigeration market for business users. The staff at Sankyo were able to pioneer and develop a refrigeration product that was an open-type showcase which had never been seen in the industry. The design was a unique selling point putting the product into high demand, and the pioneering, innovative technology undoubtedly helped to revolutionise the sector. The company didn’t stop there, it was constantly developing new products for the sector, including mini-motors, electric washers, and other home electrical appliances. The company was growing fast and the main business offices were moved to Tokyo and shortly after Sankyo Electric started producing ice-cream freezers and more refined open refrigeration showcases.

As the company continued to grow with the start of the 1960’s, and with healthy sales of their electric freezers and refrigerators, the company branched off in a new direction and developed an original bubbler juice vending machine (also known as the ‘fountain juice machine’) and then went on to develop, down a slightly different avenue, oil heaters. The breadth of products available by Sankyo Electric seemed unbound and the technology seemed unrivalled. By 1964 the Sankyo Sales Company was established, spinning off the sales division from Sankyo Electric Company. [4] Not long after the oil heaters were on the market, the innovators at Sankyo Electric were able to manufacture a clean, forced-ventilation type heater that didn’t pollute the air in the room. This was an outstanding piece of technology that no-one had ever accomplished before. The company consistently acquired technologies, both in the cooling and heating areas of business. [5]

The Bubbler Juice Machine - Sankyo Electric (Sanden Corporation) - 1961

As the company was clearly a global leader on the refrigeration and ventilation front and were continuing to develop these technologies, in 1970, it caught the eye of the American, Mitchell Corporation. Sankyo Electric received an offer for technical collaboration for small-scale compressors. With this opportunity Sankyo Electric entered into an alliance with Mitchell Corporation and embraced its (still current) role as a manufacturer of compressors for air conditioning systems used in the automotive industry; the company continued to grow and establish itself in more countries and today parts it supplies are used in a quarter of all the cars produced world-wide. [6] In 1973 the “Sanden” tradename was established, and the company’s stocks were listed on the first page of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. [7] The company also launched affiliate branches around the globe in America, Singapore, Australia and the U.K.

The 1980’s brought with them a lot of progression for Sankyo Electric. 1981 saw the invention of a scroll-type compressor for automotive air-conditioning systems. Once again, this was a product that had never been seen before. One of the most noteworthy changes came in 1982 when the company changed its name to match its trademark; Sankyo Electric Company became Sanden Corporation and in 1984 the company expanded its global presence even more with joint ventures in India, Malaysia and Mexico. Sanden are clearly a very insightful, forward thinking and progressive company who don’t shy away from opportunity and in 1988 they came across a vending company in America. One who, like themselves had taken the world a bit by storm and who, like themselves, had pioneered and developed some spectacular products that arguably revolutionised their own market sectors. The company had been started by two brothers in Kansas and was called The Vendo Company.  The journey that followed changed and shaped the vending world forever.

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.sandenvendo.it
[2] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[3] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[4] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[5] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[6] http://www.manufacturing-journal.net
[7] https://www.revolvy.com

Sources:

https://www.sandenvendo.it

https://www.sanden.co.jp

http://www.manufacturing-journal.net

https://www.revolvy.com

Elmer F. Pierson Founder of the Vendo Company by Daniel Coleman https://www.hbs.edu

Jason Roe ‘Cool Operator’ Digital History Specialist https://kchistory.org

https://en.wikipedia.org

https://www.vendoco.com

https://en.wikipedia.org

https://www.sanden-europe.com

Elmer F. Pierson and the beginning of Vendo – Feature Article (1 of 3)

The story of SandenVendo begins on August 27th, 1896 when Elmer F. Pierson was born. Elmer, along with his brother, John, would go on to become the world renowned ‘Vendo Brothers’.

The Pierson brothers worked from an early age, delivering goods for the family grocery business. The boys’ father was the proprietor of several neighbourhood grocery stores. Here, Elmer grew increasingly curious of the world and envied the travelling salesmen, who visited the stores, as they had the opportunity to see the nation and seemed to make a good living [1]. Elmer was eager to explore for himself and took a job as a clerk for a wholesale grocery company, rather than going to college. Whilst this job enabled him to travel over a couple of states, these weren’t quite the glamourous and exciting sights that he had in mind! With strong desires and ambitions, he decided to head in a new direction.

With the outbreak of World War I, Elmer served his country as a second lieutenant in an Army machine gun unit and in 1919, after taking night classes, he graduated from Kansas City Law School and was admitted to the bar. Taking a bit of a different turn, as opportunity presented itself, he headed into property sales. He had a very unsuccessful first attempt but quickly picked himself up, with the help of his brother John, and made better headway on his subsequent ventures. No doubt he used his vast sales knowledge and experience to generate good profits that enabled him to finance the opening of his own firm.

Elmer had many strings to his bow (including being president of the Kansas City Real Estate Board) before he even embarked upon the journey into vending machines with his brother John in 1937, when ‘The Vendo Company’ was born.

Vending machines during the 1930’s were notoriously unreliable and the most effective way of getting a cold drink seemed to be digging your way into a chest freezer full of ice and finding it. They were also mainly outside making them seasonal in colder climates and hard for shopkeepers to manage their stock effectively as they relied heavily on customer honesty. The mechanical vending machines also seemed to falter when it came to distinguishing between real and counterfeit coins. The other popular shortcoming was machines jamming, particularly when trying to extract bottles from icy water.

Vending machines were perhaps seen as a bit of a risky, rather obscure challenge to be taking on in 1937, but after-all, isn’t that a sign of a great entrepreneur? Spotting the need and the potential in something before anyone else does. The Vendo brothers endeavoured to improve the state of vending machines, with focus on making the machines indoor, more reliable and tackling the problem of counterfeit coins.

The brothers purchased a patent for a lid that could be attached to coolers. With insightful innovation they designed a product that was more practical than anything else on the market. ‘The Red Top’ was born and is arguably the most iconic vending machine in history. The design had the vending lid moving the bottle towards the opening, rather than moving the opening to the bottle. It was essentially a lid with mechanical underpinnings that could be fitted onto a standard cooler. The design had the advantage of storing the bottles away from the ice, which lessened the potential for mechanical failure [2]. The innovative team that Elmer and John worked with were able to develop a shrewd ‘sound wave detection technology’, this sensor could determine whether coins put into the machines by patrons were real or counterfeit, based solely on the sound waves that were emitted when the coins dropped into the machine. Ingenious! Now that’s not to say that the machines all worked seamlessly from this point, there were redesigns and upgrades, just like we would strive for today; a modern refrigeration unit was added so ice was no longer an essential element, but by 1940 the reliability had caught the eye of Coca-Cola who officially endorsed them.

The Red Top Vendo Machine - Article 1938

During World War II, The Vendo Brothers, landed a massive sales contract from the War Department, which considered soft drinks ‘essential for soldier morale’ [3]. This was not the only military contract won by the company; the sensor technology that had been developed for coins was utilised and the same principle was applied to test the quality control of artillery shells for the U.S military [4]. Elmer was very proactive in the war effort and also volunteered The Vendo Company resources to help develop a portable antenna, for use in conjunction with radar to detect German Submarines. After 3 months of development Vendo went into production of 300,000 antennas [5]. After the war The Vendo Company went on to experiment with other technology devices that also operated through sound waves. The main business remained vending machines and it continued to grow geographically. By the 1960s, Vendo was the largest vending machine company in the world and had merged with a competitor to add Pepsi-Cola and Royal Crown drinks to its machines and it even sustained its global lead when glass bottles were replaced by aluminium cans.

In the 1970’s the oil crisis rocked the nation and businesses everywhere, including Vendo were affected. Facing financial losses, the company sold off its assets and kept only their drinks vending machine distribution division. This was merely the beginning for The Vendo Company. The 1980’s were going to bring exciting new developments, from exciting areas of the world.

Footnotes:

[1] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist
[2] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist
[3] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist
[4] Daniel Coleman, ELMER F. PIERSON, FOUNDER OF THE VENDO COMPANY.
[5] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist

Sources:

https://www.hbs.edu

https://kchistory.org

https://https://kchistory.org

https://www.ancestry.com

https://www.vendoco.com

https://www.kshs.org

https://en.wikipedia.org

The History is Coming

SandenVendo probably needs no introduction as one of the leading technology companies in the world, with offices and factories in Europe, Japan, America and more. Our working relationship with SandenVendo has always been a strong one and the company itself has such an interesting history that we have decided to run a series of feature articles on the history and merger of 2 entirely independent companies (The Vendo Company and Sanden Corporation) on entirely different continents; who came together to form one of the largest global vending companies of our time. As pioneers of technology and innovation ourselves we feel there are parallels that both of our organisations reflect.  If you have any interesting information you think we should include in these future articles, please let us know and we will be happy to credit you.

The Snack Evolution is here

The wait is now over. SandenVendo have produced an insight into the future of vending machines and it certainly gets our attention. An innovative concept that further evolves the popular G-Snack range. It is the G-Snack Evolution and it has arrived at Intelligent Wholesale. What sets it apart from other machines on the market, other than the attractive and elegant design, is the central delivery port which avoids the need for consumers to bend down to receive their items from the lower bin area as with most standard systems on the market. The G-Snack Evolution also has up to 56 selections and comes with optical sensors as standard. To get your hands on this machine and more check out the range on our web-page.

G-Snack 6 Vending Machine

Yet again, we have new vending machines on the website! Introducing the G-Snack 6 machine:

This is the G-Snack machine already available on the website‘s little sister. Still versatile, flexible, reliable, this machine is able to vend a wide range of snacks, drinks and food products. Similarly to the original larger G-Snack 8, this smaller version is fully customisable to your requirements, and would be a great addition to any small office!

This is sure to be another success from SandenVendo! Would you like this machine for your office? Or perhaps customised for a new buisness venture? Let us know in the comments below.

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