HOME > About Us > NTN Group History:Two Founders and NTN's DNA

Two Founders and NTN's DNA

NTN's two founders who have taken on the challenge of producing bearings domestically valued two spirit: “Frontier Spirit” and “Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit.” The Founder's Spirit has been NTN's DNA and it has been passed on to the today's company having a history of over 100 years since its foundation.

Founder's Spirit Movie “Challengers” (approximately 6 minutes and 30 seconds)

Founder's Spirit Movie “Challengers” (approximately 6 minutes and 30 seconds)

Founders of NTN

NTN's founders are Mr. Noboru Niwa, a merchant, and Mr. Jiro Nishizono, an engineer. The history of NTN began when two young people, who were in their early 20s, challenged to produce bearings domestically.

Noboru Niwa
First president that founded and grew NTN with a lot of enthusiasm

Noboru Niwa

In 1898, Mr. Noboru Niwa was born as the third son at Fudano, Takasu-cho (the present Fudano, Kaizu-cho, Kaizu City), Gifu Prefecture. As his second brother aimed to become a merchant, Mr. Niwa also aimed to be a merchant affected by his brother, so he joined the largest trading company in Nagoya to study. With his enthusiastic work, his business performance was exceptionally strong, and the president of the company also recognized him as a qualified merchant. Mr. Niwa soon became independent and established a trading company with his next brother.

Mr. Niwa was never a good talker, but he tended to talk about a single issue for many hours patiently. So many people who talked with Mr. Niwa were often attracted by his enthusiasm.

At the time of the establishment of NTN Mfg. Co., Ltd. in 1927, imported bearings accounted for a large share of the market, but he continued to struggle with a lot of enthusiasm and steadily expanded its business.

Career summary

1898 Born in Takasu-cho (the present Kaizu City), Gifu Prefecture
1919 Established Kyoei Trading Co. with his next brother Yoshio
1920 Changed the company name from Kyoei Trading Co. to Tomoe Trading Co.
1927 Established NTN Mfg. Co., Ltd. (as president)
1934 Changed NTN Mfg. Co., Ltd. to a stock company structure (as president)

Jiro Nishizono
Father of NTN bearings

Jiro Nishizono

In 1897, Mr. Nishizono was born in Nakahara Village, Ichishi-gun (the present Yoshino-machi, Matsusaka City), Mie Prefecture, and adopted into the Nishizono Family, that was his relative living in Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture.

He joined Tomioka Ironworks in Kuwana City in 1916. He had been engaged in the manufacture of hand pumps for approximately two years and refined his manufacturing skill. In 1918, he founded Nishizono Ironworks and manufactured rice milling machines. Then he sometimes repaired the bearings brought from spinning factories.

Although he did not have a formal academic career as an engineer, he was devoted to research on manufacture of machinery day and night with clarity of mind and enthusiasm, and his wife often corrected for his life style.

Throughout his lifetime, he focused on manufacture of bearings. In 1942, he was recognized for his achievements in producing bearings domestically, and was awarded the Sixth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure.

Career summary

1897 Born in Nakahara Village, Ichishi-gun (the present Yoshino-cho, Matsusaka City), Mie Prefecture
1918 Established Nishizono Ironworks and began research and production of ball bearings
1924 Cooperated with ball bearing division of Tomoe Trading Co.
1927 Established NTN Mfg. Co., Ltd.
1934 Changed NTN Mfg. Co., Ltd. to a stock company structure (as managing director)
1942 Received the Sixth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure for his achievements in producing bearings domestically

Founder's Spirit -“Frontier Spirit” and “Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit”-

Founder's Spirit includes “Frontier Spirit,” which has strong beliefs and makes challenges to new things, and “Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit,” which does not pursue only their own interests. Here are two episodes related to this spirit.

Frontier Spirit -Shift to domestic production of bearings, which relied on imported products-

Mr. Noboru Niwa was thoroughly committed to the value that “Manufacturing and selling new products with future potential that will be essential for daily life, before anyone else does, is the road to success.”

In 1922, when he heard that a foreign ship loading bearings had suffered a marine accident at Yokohama Port, he won a bid for all the bearings without hesitation, brought them to Nishizono Ironwork managed by Mr.Nishizono to repair them, and sold the repaired bearings. At that time, bearings were expensive because most bearings were imported products and expensive, so there were few applications using bearings in Japan. Nevertheless, Mr. Niwa decided to challenge the domestic production of bearings, focusing on the future of bearings, which will become essential for almost all machinery in the near future.

Mr. Niwa purchased three grinding machines with the profits gained from sales of repaired bearings, and brought them to Nishizono Ironworks and asked him to study bearing manufacturing technology. At that time, bearings were not well known, and Mr. Nishizono continued process of trial and error many times while there was no dedicated machine.

Initially, there were many defective products that could not be tolerated due to insufficient research on materials and processes, even if they were formed. There were many cases where products was returned from customers as they were not suitable for use.

Mr. Niwa and Mr. Nishizono did not hesitate to respond to this situation, and they worked vigorously and repeatedly to improve the quality of products and gradually put their business on track.

This is the “Frontier Spirit” of Mr. Niwa and Mr. Nishizono, who were taking on the challenge for the domestic production of society needed bearings.

Subsequently, as demand for bearings increased further with the development of the industry, NTN succeeded in developing Japan's first aircraft bearings and machine tool precision bearings. In the 1960s, NTN made aggressive technology alliances with overseas manufacturers and advanced into overseas markets ahead of other manufacturers. NTN has demonstrated the Frontier Spirit in a variety of fields to date.

From the Founder's Spirit Movie “Challengers”

From the Founder's Spirit Movie “Challengers”

Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit -Contributing to industrial development through domestic production of bearings-

In early childhood, Mr. Niwa was repeatedly told by his mother that “If you become a merchant, never monopolize profits, but prosper together. People do not take care of you if you do not think about coexistence and co-prosperity.”

Around 1910, there were only imported bearings in Japan, and the bearings were so expensive that it could be said to be able to buy a gold watch with a single bearing. As a result, the demand for bearings was mostly for the Navy, private companies rarely used bearings for their machines. Mr. Niwa tried to produce bearings domestically with the hope of contributing to the development of various industries if a bearing could be produced and sold in one yen, which had been imported in five yen at that time.

The foundation of his thought was his mother's teaching; “Coexistence and co-prosperity (stand together and prosper together).” His philosophy of not only generating profits through business, but also contributing to the development of society and industry through its business led to the challenge of domestic production of bearings and the foundation of NTN.

This “Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit” supports the business activities of the NTN Group that pursues tribology technologies for saving energy to save the global environment, creates new technologies and develops new products to contribute to the development of industries around the world.

From the Founder's Spirit Movie “Challengers”

From the Founder's Spirit Movie “Challengers”

Inheriting Founder's Spirit for the next 100 years

The “Frontier Spirit” and “Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit” introduced thus far have been passed down to the present NTN's corporate philosophy. In addition, the NTN Group holds “NTN PROUD AWARD” as an activity to ensure that the Founder's Spirit is passed on to the next 100 years.

Click here for details of NTN's corporate philosophy

“NTN PROUD AWARD” to practice the corporate philosophy

NTN holds “NTN PROUD AWARD” as a forum for practicing the corporate philosophy, which is rooted in the Founder's Spirit. The award invites participating teams from all employees of the NTN Group worldwide to join four categories derived from the corporate philosophy: Creation, Service Solution, Contribution to the Society, and Globalization. Each team sets its own themes and goals that link daily operations with the corporate philosophy, and takes on the challenge of achieving those goals. After the activity is completed, activity reports are presented, and Excellent Award, Special Award, and Grand Prix are selected from the participating teams.

At the first time held in 2018, 164 teams and approximately 1,700 employees from around the world participated in the award and a team from NTN-SNR RULMENTI S.R.L., a Romanian sales and manufacturing company, got a Grand Prix award for their activity supporting children in welfare institution.

NTN Group will continue to hold “NTN PROUD AWARD” to pass on the Founder's Spirit to all employees around the world.


Activities of Grand Prix team at the first “NTN PROUD AWARD”
Support young people in state welfare institutions
(Category of Contribution to the Society)

The team members cooperated with volunteer groups to provide assistance to children at welfare institutions. In addition to assisting with a painting event where children drew pictures with the topics of dreams and friendship on a giant piece of canvas, they also set out to refurbish the house of the welfare institutions that the children lived in. As most of the team members had no experience with refurbishing work, they did a lot of construction after work and on the weekends. They also organized a tour of plant where children had fun discovering products and receiving gifts. Not only did the children enjoy themselves, but the activity was another way to contribute to the local community.

The team got the first Grand Prix as they demonstrated the “Frontier Spirit” by taking on the new challenge that nobody of the team has not experienced and the “Coexistence and co-prosperity Spirit” by aiming to encourage children to smile.

NTN-SNR RULMENTI S R. L. (Romania) team that got the Grand Prix

NTN-SNR RULMENTI S R. L. (Romania) team
that got the Grand Prix