Fukui, Japan is one of the three largest production regions for optical frames in the world, along with China and Italy. 97% of Japanese-made optical frames are manufactured in Fukui. Masunaga Optical premiered the production of eyeglasses in Fukui in 1905. The company founder Gozaemon Masunaga brought in skilled craftsmen from Osaka and Tokyo with the ambition of setting the optical industry solidly in place in Fukui.
He entered into the industry the hard way, and at first the eyeglasses manufactured in Fukui were regarded to be third-rate in the world. In order to raise the quality standards of the products, Gozaemon established a guild like system where full-fledged craftsmen could create their own businesses. Owing to this system, the number of eyeglass craftsmen increased gradually, and the optical industry spread all over Fukui.
There are as many as 200 manual processes involved in making an optical frame. Generally, productivity is low when one company is in charge of all the processes. However, Masunaga Optical is the only company in Japan that has a factory in charge of all processes from raw materials to production and finish in an integrated way. The integrated production system improves the detail and quality. For example, when Masunaga Optical develops a new model, the molds are always built in-house. If there is a problem in the wear comfort that can be felt only after completing one pair of glasses, it will be corrected in the previous process’ promptly.
The company’s mission statement since the establishment is “We manufacture excellent eyeglasses. We want to make a profit if we can, but we don’t hesitate to take a loss. It is always in our thoughts to manufacture excellent eyeglasses.” These words are still the basis of the conduct code of employees even more than 100 years after its establishment.