Dr. Masao Horiba is a pioneer in student-launched start-up companies in Japan. He founded Horiba Radio Laboratory in 1945. This became the foundation of HORIBA, Ltd., which manufactures a wide range of scientific and medical analyzers sold worldwide.
In 1953, he established HORIBA Ltd. which later viewed as a model for a business venture with a unique corporate motto “Joy & Fun”. He encouraged his employees to earn doctorate while he himself received a doctor’s degree in medicine. He is the Supreme Counsel of HORIBA, Ltd. since 2005. In 2006, he was awarded Pittcon Heritage Award, the most prestigious awards in analytical chemistry, as the first non-western recipient and became the 27th member in a roster of Pittcon Hall of Fame.
- Education and Experience
1946 B.S., PhysicsMedicine, Kyoto Imperial University
1961 Ph.D. Hyogo Prefectural School of Medicine
1945 Horiba Radio Laboratory. Founder
1953 HORIBA, Ltd. Founder PresidentHORIBA, Ltd
1978 ChairmanHORIBA, Ltd.
1995 Board ChairmanHORIBA, Ltd.
2005 Present Supreme CounselHORIBA STEC Co., Ltd.
- Awards and Honors
1982 Blue Ribbon Medal of Honor, Government of Japan
2004 Establishment of the Masao Horiba Award, HORIBA, Ltd.
2006 Pittcon Heritage Award, Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy and the Chemical Heritage Foundation
- Research (Establishment)
After earning a B.S. in physics, Horiba decided to join the Japanese army’s research center, to develop a radar system for the Shusui aircraft. However, the war ended before the Shusui’s engine was completed, so the capability of Horiba’s radar system was never demonstrated in combat. When the American occupation of Japan began in 1945, Horiba established his own private research laboratory, called the Horiba Radio Laboratory. His laboratory produced emergency power outage lamps, high-speed counters, electric-pulse oscillators, and high-quality capacitors. During the Korean War, Horiba modified the laboratory’s products to meet the agrichemical needs of the country by building a pH meter better suited to Japan’s humid environment.
In 1953, Horiba incorporated his laboratory and renamed it HORIBA, Ltd. The new company continued to improve the Model H pH meter, and began developing inorganic single crystal windows. The company began producing infrared-based gas analyzers in 1958. They also began producing all of Hitachi, Ltd.’s analytical instrumentation under the double brand name of HITACHI-HORIBA. The Japanese government’s interest in HORIBA, Ltd.’s work was peaked in the early 1960s, and they suggested that HORIBA build an analyzer for automobile emissions testing. Masahiro Oura, then a young employee but who eventually became the second president of HORIBA, developed the MEXA analyzer for testing automobile emissions. The MEXA analyzer soon became the world standard for testing emissions.
The Osaka and Kyoto Stock Exchanges listed HORIBA, Ltd. as a public company in 1971, much to the joy of the company’s original investors. Over a decade later, the Tokyo Stock Exchange listed the company. Horiba was quick to strengthen bonds with other countries and established a subsidiary in the United States. The company also has affiliates throughout Europe and Asia. In 1978, as the company celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, it adopted the simple yet highly effective corporate motto, “Joy and Fun.” That same year, Masao Horiba retired as president and assumed the office of chairman. Currently, Horiba’s son, Atsushi Horiba, is president of the company. Horiba concludes the interview with reflections on his innovations in corporate management and the importance of venture capitalism.
- Related Links
Masao Horiba | Chemical Heritage Foundation
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