Zebra (pen manufacturer)
Zebra head office in Shinjuku, Tokyo, 2006
|Founded||1914; 107 years ago (1914)|
|Hideaki Ishikawa (President, 1963–98) |
|Products||Fountain, ballpoint, brush and gel pens, markers, highlighters, mechanical pencils|
|Brands||Sharbo, Steel, Zensations|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Zebran Pen Corp (USA)|
Zebra Pen (Mexico)
Zebra Pen Co., Ltd (China)
Zebra Pen (UK)
Zebra Co., Ltd. (ゼブラ株式会社, Zebura Kabushiki gaisha) is a Japanese manufacturer of writing instruments, established in 1914 by Tokumatsu Ishikawa.
The company sells a wide range of writing implements through retail stores, wholesalers and mail order. Zebra offers a line of writing instruments that include Fountain, ballpoint, brush and gel pens, markers, highlighters and mechanical pencils.
Tokumatsu Ishikawa had begun to produce home-made nibs in 1897, until he established its own business in 1914, registering the name "Zebra" as a trademark. Ishikawa thought Zebra was an appropriate name because his goal was to build a business culture that resembled a family and zebras have a strong herding instinct. Zebra stripes resembling calligraphic pen strokes may also have been a reason for the name.
In 1945, the Zebra facilities were destroyed during a bomb attack in World War II, but those would be reconstructed during the 1950s. In 1959 Zebra launched its first ballpoint pen manufactured. Four years later, the company renamed "Zebra Co., Ltd", with Hideaki Ishikawa becoming president of the firm.
During the 1970s decade, Zebra marketed its first lines of markers, including brush-tip models, opening a new factory in Tokyo (1979). Zebra opened a subsidiary in the United States (1982). The 1990s and 2000s decade came with new subsidiaries in Canada, Indonesia, China, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
Zebra's line of pens and pencils include "The Original" F-301 and the M-301, which have stainless steel barrels and textured grips. Other product lines include Z-Grip (ballpoint pens), Surari (hybrid ink ballpoint pens), Sarasa Dry (gel pens), Sharbo (multi-pens), Zensations (art products), Mildliner (double ended creative markers), Zebrite (double ended highlighters), and Zazzle (liquid highlighters). Zebra products are available across the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Singapore, Korea, and Japan.
In 2017, the Z-Grip line of retractable gel pens was transitioned to low viscosity ink, aka advanced ink. The benefits of the new formula, in addition to a smoother writing experience, was more vibrant colors and an option to create more nuanced hues.
The steel line of pens follows a good, better, best hierarchy; 3-series, 4-series, and 7-series respectively. The 301 series is characterized by stainless steel shafts and hardened plastic grips. The 401 has the same stainless steel shaft with a rubber grip. Finally, the flagship pen, the 701 has a knurled grip and is completely stainless steel. A cross section of these barrel styles reflect different ink types. For example, the 3-series barrel is available in ballpoint, gel, mechanical pencil, fountain pen, highlighter, and rollerball pen. All Zebra stainless steel products are refillable, including leads and mechanical pencil erasers.
The company transitioned all their plastic gel pens from different brands and consolidated under one name, Sarasa Dry. All the former products were reformulated to feature Zebra's award-winning Rapid Dry Ink technology, which was third party laboratory, tested and proven to be as fast or faster drying than the competition on a variety of surfaces and dries in less than a second on most surfaces. The assortment, X1, X10, X20, and X30, reflect different barrel styles to accommodate most consumer preferences.
Range of hybrid ink oil-based ballpoint pens, similar to Uni's Jetstream, Pentel's Vicuna and Pilot's Acroball.
Zebra entered the art and activity space with the launch of their Zensations brand of products, geared towards new and amateur artists looking for a slightly higher quality than products solely created for children. The brand encompasses technical pens and pencils, refillable colored mechanical pencils, fineliner markers, calligraphy pens, brush pens (black and colors), and more. Line extensions are developed periodically to refresh the line.
A mechanism employed in the DelGuard system developed by Zebra, causes the lead sleeve in a mechanical pencil to extend outward when excessive pressure is applied at an angle. When excess vertical pressure is applied on the lead, the lead is automatically retracted inwards. Thus, the lead is protected (within certain limits) in both cases. In Japan, 0.3 and 0.7 versions of the DelGuard is available alongside the 0.5 version, whereas in the US, only the 0.5 version is available.
Sharbo is a line of multifunction pens. A pen may contain one or more ink refills plus a mechanical pencil component. Examples are Sharbo X and SK-Sharbo+1.
Adopted Zebra Brand and registered Zebra as a trademark.
Zebra marketed three-color ballpoint pen.
Zebra marketed its first brush pen and fluorescent marking pen.
Zebra marketed Double ended Marker.
Sharbo two-in-one ballpoint pen/mechanical pencil products introduced.
Started production and marketing of DX Hard ballpoint pen.
ZEBRA PEN CORP. (U.S.A.) established.
Zebra marketed its first needle-tip rolling pen, Be-Pen.
Marketed JELL-BE new-generation jell ink ball-point pen and a pen-type correction liquid.
Completed Nogi new factory with a progressive new project control system.
Zebra Pen (U.K.) LTD. established.
Subsidiary manufacturing plant established in Jakarta, Indonesia.
ZEBRA PEN (MEXICO) established.
HYPER JELL and JIMNIE LIGHT marketed.
Office in Shanghai established.
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Industries of the Blind Visits Zebra Pen Manufacturing Facility
Posted on October 13, 2017 by
Edison, NJ— Representatives from Industries of the Blind (IOB Greensboro) – Greensboro, NC and Alphapointe – Kansas City, MO visited one of Zebra Pen’s manufacturing facilities in Monterrey, Mexico, July 18 through July 20, 2017. The purpose of the visit was to enhance the partnership between Zebra Pen and the greater National Industries for the Blind (NIB) organization.
Trip attendees included Industries of the Blind’s, Richard Oliver (Director of Sales, Marketing and Business Development); Alphapointe’s, Ryan Williams (Vice President, Sales and Marketing)’ as well as Zebra Pen’s, Clem Restaino (President), John Jurgens (Vice President of Sales), Chris Farley (Director of Operations), and Brian Kerrigan (National Sales Manager).
Alphapointe and IOB Greensboro are members of the greater National Industries for the Blind Organization. IOB Greensboro manufactures and markets gel ink pens under the brand name, SKILCRAFT® using Zebra Pen components. These components are shipped to IOB’s manufacturing facilities and assembled by IOB Greensboro personnel. The SKILCRAFT® brand is a top 20 brand in the commercial market.
“It gives us great pleasure to partner with an organization like Industries of the Blind (of Greensboro, NC),” said Clem Restaino, President of Zebra Pen Corporation. “Over the last 3 years, we’ve strengthened our relationship by providing quality writing instruments in the marketplace. IOB Greensboro’s recent visit to our Monterrey manufacturing facility provided a forum for an inter-active exchange of ideas and process efficiencies. We recognize Industries of the Blind as a beacon of hope and opportunity in the community, and we look forward to continued success with the SKILCRAFT® brand.”
The trip allowed representatives of the NIB organization to review Zebra Pen’s manufacturing processes with hopes of duplicating best practices in their own manufacturing facilities.
Richard Oliver, from IB Greensboro stated, “It is always a pleasure and eye-opening when visiting the manufacturing facility of a supplier/partner. The capabilities that you see, that before you did not know about, helps to create new ideas for opportunities of business. That is what I saw when visiting the Zebra Pen facility in Mexico. This along with the openness of the staff both managing the plant as well as performing the actual operations made for a more exciting and productive trip.”
Over the years of the partnership, Zebra Pen has been committed to Industries of the Blind, Greensboro’s vision of eliminating all barriers for people who are blind or visually impaired. This trip strengthened that partnership and was a powerful reminder of that ultimate mission.
About Zebra Pen Corporation
Zebra Pen Corporation was founded in New York in August 1982 as an independent corporation wholly owned by Zebra Co., Ltd., of Tokyo, Japan. A New Jersey-based writing instrument manufacturer, Zebra Pen Corporation’s mission is to distribute products that are of the highest quality, providing value to customers and meeting their overall writing needs with a wide variety of writing instruments. Zebra Pen Corporation offers a full line of writing instruments, including ball point pens, gel pens, roller ball pens, mechanical pencils, and highlighters. Today, with over 115 years of excellence behind them, Zebra Pen Corporation is leading the way with a wide range of quality writing products including the Steel®, Sarasa®, Z-Grip® and Cadoozles® brands. For more information, visit www.ZebraPen.com.
Zebra Pen Corporation was founded in New York in August 1982 as an independent corporation wholly owned by Zebra Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, Japan.
The Zebra trademark was adopted in 1914. Legend has it that Mr. Ishikawa, founder of Zebra Co. Ltd., wanted a company name that would be memorable and also appropriate for their export business to other countries. He took an English/Japanese dictionary and, opening it Japanese style from the back, started with the “Z” words. He stopped at “Zebra”.
Upon further research, Mr. Ishikawa found that zebras are gentle animals with a strong family herding instinct. This was an important attribute, since he wanted to build a business in which employees and customers were all part of a family-like culture. The fact that the zebra looks like it is decorated with large calligraphic pen strokes may have also appealed to the visual image he was seeking.
Today the Zebra Pen brand is as unique as the products we sell. Zebra Pen Corporation offers an extensive line of writing instruments including ballpoint pens, highlighters, mechanical pencils, gel rollers, and correction pens. We stand behind our name and guarantee quality, satisfaction, and ultimate writing performance.
Zebra pens are made where
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