The Story of ADVANCE Marketing ~ Ask Mike Miyazawa. “35 years of history with snowboarding culture” <Chapter XNUMX>

Advanced Marketing handles snowboard brands such as LIB TECH, GNU and ALLIAN, and many other brands in surfing and skateboarding. Since the time when snowboarding was not yet common, we have formed deep connections with many unique brands one after another. What was the story behind it? Over the next three parts, I would like to trace the history of Japanese snowboarding as well as the history of advanced marketing.

Episode-1 At the beginning….

They have a strong connection with Mervin Manufacturing, which produces LIB TECH, and big name riders such as Jamie Lynn and Travis Rice come to Japan for ``advanced marketing.'' The biggest factor behind this is the presence of Mike Miyazawa. Advanced Marketing was launched in 1987. Founder Mike Miyazawa was born in Japan, but moved to the United States in 1966 at the age of 21. At that time, overseas travel had just been liberalized, and moving to the United States was a great opportunity in every aspect, including not only the funds but also the method of stay. However, Miyazawa applied for a secondment to the American office of the company he was working for at the time. Because he was ``a Beatles fan and was studying English,'' he was able to successfully secure a position working overseas for him.

"I've always wanted to go to America, so I taught myself English. I was really happy. Everything I saw and ate was new to me." America is beautiful, fun, and exciting. Ta. Miyazawa decided to change jobs because he wanted to stay in America for as long as possible. He sought employment with a Japanese import/export company with an office in Huntington Beach. However, that company went bankrupt in 1987. Miyazawa ends up losing his job and place to live, leaving his family in a foreign land.

``If this happens, I'll become independent and start my own business.But what should I do?'' I thought to myself when I returned to Japan.I was living in Setagaya in Japan, and my daughter said she wanted a skateboard. , I went to see Marui in Jiyugaoka.When I was over there, the children were often skateboarding, and I also borrowed some from them and played with them.Skateboarding is a part of everyday life, a very normal thing. But in Japan, things were different.

``Things that you can get for tens of dollars in America were being sold for nearly 20,000 yen in Japan.I was surprised by that.I told my daughter that I would buy some for her the next time I went to America. By the way, the annual average US dollar/yen exchange rate in 1987 was 144.6 yen. 20,000 yen is just under $140.

``Skateboards, which are commonplace in America, were still rare in Japan.I see, I thought this might be interesting.When I returned to America, I met a friend named Ed who runs a surf shop. Ed introduced me to a company called Sure Grip.Sure Grip sells roller skates. It was a famous manufacturer, but they had just started a brand called H-street, which was started by professional skateboarder Tony Magnusson.We thought that was a good idea. I launched Advanced Marketing using H-street, Sure Grip complete skateboards, and surfboards from Ed Sakals, which is made by Ed who introduced me to them.''

Advertising manuscript published in a magazine when Advanced Marketing was founded

 However, in the United States, where he had lived for a long time, his company went bankrupt and he felt at a loss. Were you worried about the future at that time? ``Because there's no point in worrying about things like that (lol).America is an individualistic society in both good and bad ways, and I've seen that kind of society ever since I was young.If you don't have any backing, you can do it on your own. Just do it. It wasn't anything special to me, and I feel like I just naturally thought that way," Miyazawa says nonchalantly. If you can't make up your mind, just wait until you do. If you don't understand something, talk to your friends. However, if you find something to do, move forward with all your might. Once you decide, follow through. At that time, don't waver. Do it in a way that makes you feel the most comfortable. Miyazawa's fundamentally positive disposition would foster his future connections with LIB TECH and GNU.

*Titles omitted in text

>Next time Episode-2followed by

The walls of the warehouse where Mervin founders Mike and Pete talk are filled with autographs from riders who came to Japan for the Advance Cup and Olympic medalists!!

Mike Miyazawa (Takehisa Miyazawa) Born in Yamanashi Prefecture. He came to the United States in 1966 as an expatriate employee for an optical equipment manufacturer. After that, he enjoyed life in America for 20 years while working in California and other areas. His unique business sense, which took advantage of the free atmosphere of the West Coast, eventually led him to skateboarding and snowboarding. He introduced many exciting brands to Japan and supported Japan's Yokonori culture for a long time. He also helped add skateboarding to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

 The Other Stories ~Some topics that were not covered in the story~

■Why did you set up your office in Tsukuba?

"Advance Marketing was originally located in Setagaya. We started the business right out of the house we were living in at the time. But after doing it for four or five years, we realized we needed a warehouse and needed to hire people. At that time, I was often going to the United States for business meetings and other things, so I wanted a place with easy access.That's why I chose Tsukuba because it has a lot of greenery, an American-style urban development, and easy access to Narita. I decided to do so.However, the warehouse I rented quickly became too small after a few years, and I couldn't find anything suitable.Then I decided to buy some land around here and build one, so I could have both a warehouse and an office in one place. We built the current company building with the aim of covering everything.At that time, most of the import agencies were located in Tokyo, but I already thought that Tokyo was a good place to live where there were a lot of people, so I decided to work in the sales department. It has become easier for staff to get to Tokyo due to the construction of expressways, so in the end they no longer have to worry about Tokyo. Well, I'm glad that I was able to create an environment where I can work in a more relaxing place. Yo"

A handmade skate park has been built by employees around the company building, which is adjacent to fields and forests. There is a solar power generation facility on the roof that has enough power to cover all of the company's electricity needs.

■There is a skate park on the company premises, and in the summer we enjoy barbecues in front of the eaves of the warehouse. Where did this free corporate culture come from?

``Currently, Advanced Marketing is located in a very rural area, and no matter what we do, we don't really bother the neighbors.At the skate park, we have staff who love skating, and one day they said, ``The president, Can I allow people to skate at the edge of the parking lot? I said, ``You can do whatever you want,'' and then I started pouring concrete and started doing it in earnest, and before I knew it, it was like that.I said, ``It's fine as long as you're having fun doing it.'' That's right. I believe that if you're going to do anything, including work, it's better to have fun doing it. My colleagues and I go skating, snowboarding, and surfing together. After all, we have a group of people with the same hobbies. So, I guess it's only natural.That's why, on days when we finish work early, we often decide to grill some meat and eat it together.It would be fun to have a fun time skating while having a barbecue together. I didn't create a free company culture because I wanted to.I think it's because the employees enjoy their work.''

``An environment where you can work surrounded by the things you love'' A warehouse that reflects Mr. Miyazawa's way of life. Warehouse space where shipments to snow, skate, and surf shops across the country are carried out every day.

■You put a lot of effort into training kids in both snow and skating. What is your idea behind that?

``It's based on my outlook on life, but I don't think a world where children can have fun is a good world.'' I wanted people to know that it can be fun too, and around 2006, World Industries released a skateboard for kids.I thought it was great, but it wasn't for kids. It was expensive for a toy, and there weren't that many skateparks in Japan at the time.I thought it wouldn't spread as it was, so I negotiated with my home country to lower the price, and held events at local skateparks.That's what I did. Some of the skaters who are currently active in the world were mixed in as kids.I never thought of boosting the skateboarding scene in Japan, but almost 20 years later, I realized that Japan is not the first place for skateboarding competitions. It's always ranked high, and local governments are spending money to develop skate parks. I think we're living in a happy era."

World Industries Kids Skateboard (Pictured in 2007)Around the year)
World Industries also sells snowboards for kids at a bargain price.

Interview: Takuro Hayashi Photo: ZIZO

>>>Episode-2 Encounter with LIB TECH, which has greatly advanced advanced marketing.