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20 Things You Didn't Know about Asics

Asics is one of the most popular and well-known brands of athletic shoes and apparel around the world. Though many people see it as just another athletic shoe company, there is much more to Asics than meets the eye. It is a company that focuses on technology, not only in the manufacture of its shoes but also in the way each new pair of shoes is designed. There are at least 20 more things you didn’t know about Asics, so you can browse the list and decide if you want to change your current shoe brand after reading.

1. The brand name Asics is actually an acronym.

Perhaps the proper way to spell ASICS is with all upper case letters, since it is derived from a Latin phrase - Anima Sana In Corpore Sano. The English meaning is translated “a sound mind in a sound body.” The concept of a mind-body connection was, as we will see in the next item on the list, not a 21st century invention.

2. The ASICS brand was not the original name of the company.

Onitsuka Co., Limited was created by Kihachiro Onitsuka back in 1949 as a basketball shoes manufacturing business in Kobe, Japan. The manufacturing plant was Onitsuka’s living room, where everything apparently was custom made. Today, the business has branched out globally, yet Kobe remains the headquarters of the company. There is no evidence that the former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard’s name is linked to the business.

3. The company has an EthicsPoint hotline.

While many companies talk about an open business culture, ASICS actually puts it into practice. EthicsPoint is a separate business hired by ASICS as a reporting point for employees who want to remain anonymous about reporting unethical, unsafe, or illegal activity that goes on inside the walls of the company. It is available 24/7 and can be used either by telephone or online.

4. Their latest brand creation is the result of a collaboration between an ASICS designer team and a Singapore artist.

Talk about stylin’, the brand’s Tiger line-up is the result of a brainstorming session between Singapore artist and Limited Edt head Mark Ong and the ASICS creative team. The inspiration came from the torrential downpours that are common occurrences in Ong’s hometown, and people from around the world can relate to seasonal downpours during temperate seasons. Rain never stopped dedicated runners from running, so ASICS developed the Tiger line to fill yet another void in the athletic shoe industry.

5. ASICS America, current president and CEO Gene McCarthy is an avid runner.

While many CEO’s of athletic shoe and apparel companies tend to be less athletically inclined than the average 20-something, McCarthy is someone who puts his foot down when it comes to connecting his corporate life and his personal life. Every morning he is up and running, so rather than have an executive whose life is spent in business attire, customers of ASICS can have the confidence that the management of the shoe company they have spent money on actually identifies with the problems and enjoyment of being a regular runner.

6. The company has a research facility with an acronym of RISS.

RISS, or the Research Institute of Sports Science, was opened in 1990 in the company’s founding town of Kobe. Here is where the company’s investment in shoe and apparel starts to pay off with technological innovations developed by scientists and athletes alike. Its research includes both studying the movement of the human body and the testing of a variety of materials to learn what is best for the customer and the next model.

7. Their RISS facility is not enclosed in a single room full of technology and gadgets.

It is in fact a total of 45,000 square feet of space that has separate halls for basketball and volleyball, along with a 350 meter running track designed for testing in all types of weather. The facility itself employs more than 200 people, and active athletes who wear and are sponsors of the ASICS brand are flown in at least once a year to see the current research and to give their input on future shoe and apparel designs.

8. The company is proactive in international human rights issues.

As a company that does business in the state of California, it adheres to the requirements of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010. This law requires that retail sellers and manufacturers alike who are doing business in the state of California need to disclose their specific efforts focused on eradicating slavery and human trafficking that exists within their company’s direct supply chain. While China and certain other Asian countries have been reported as violators of this human rights issue, ASICS continues to ensure its integrity as an international concern.

9. ASICS has a history of the company’s products encased in a glass display at its headquarters in Kobe.

The list of products includes a pair of track spikes worn in the Olympics, snow boots specifically designed for Arctic expeditions, and several pair of shoes selected from the discontinued Gold and Silver Tiger labels. They are all stored in airtight containers to prevent corruption and damage from outside elements. The display goes beyond footwear to include old ads, a variety of accessories, and a selection of equipment, that traces the brand's 69-year timeline of success.

10. The company does not accept contributions to their historical collection showcase.

This is one important feature of the collection because private collectors have sought financial gain from holding on to their ASICS brand products. The company’s reasoning for this policy is the difficulty in negotiating both the terms of the purchase and the proper crediting of the individual collector. But despite these restrictions, the company has announced that during the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, there will be a selection of its history open to the general public. The collection is generally open to viewing by the company’s designers throughout the day.

11. The current ASICS American CEO said his first pair of athletic shoes were ASICS.

It’s funny how sometimes life comes full circle. Such is the case of the current CEO of ASICS America, who recalls buying his first pair of running shoes from a New York City retailer, Paragon Sports. Though he did not plan on working for ASICS at the time, he admits he later dreamed of working for a major shoe company with the reputation of ASICS.

12. The company’s business philosophy includes the building of a strong corporate culture.

ASICS believes that one of the essential parts of creating a corporate culture is that it is the people who are employed who are at the heart of the business. The life of a business is rounded in its people, regardless if that person is someone who greet visitors and customers at the front door, or it is a high level executive. Having a culture with an array of contrasting skills and personalities is a way to cement the culture. Then, should tough times arise, which they often do, the company remains strong and resilient.

13. An essential concept of business sales and marketing is as simple as 1-2-3.

One of the executive’s philosophies is stated simply. If something is seen once, it becomes an idea worth pursuing. The second time it is seen it has become a trend. The third time means it has run its course (and we need to move on). Sometimes trends last 6 months, sometimes a full year. Then there are trends that are as fickle as social media, lasting only a few hours. Moving on is a skill that is the result of experience.

14. If you are interested in working for ASICS, here are a few hints.

During the interview your focus needs to be on how you can help the company relative to your particular set of skills and talents. An active interest or participation in sports or athletics is not of particular interest to the interviewer. The basic thrust of your pitch needs to be on what you can do to make the company successful, and how you personally want to be successful. This means you will have to make specific points and have a track record of how you lived up to your own expectations of success.

15. ASICS understands why the consumer is both valuable and important.

Many companies say this, but when you read why ASICS believes this you will find why its success continues. The idea that any brand that the company manufactures is actually the product of the consumer, not the company. They see themselves as managers of the brand, not direct owners. In a realistic, modern perception of the way the athletic shoe business is run, ASICS realizes that shoe companies chase the consumers, not the other way around.

16. The role of women goes beyond simple employment and recognition.

ASICS American CEO Gene McCarthy cites Tory Burch as one of the executive’s he admires the most. (For those who do not know who Tory Burch is, she is a fashion designer who is the chairman and CEO of Tory Burch, LLC., making the Forbes magazine list in 2015 as the world’s 73rd most powerful woman. He says she is the embodiment of the empowerment of women, then passing along that quality to other women through bravery and inspiration.

17. A bit of ASICS trivia - from 1964.

Yes, it was 55 years ago but the Japanese women’s volleyball team, who had the interesting translated name of the “Oriental Witches” won the gold medal in the sport. They were wearing the Tiger model of ASICS shoes, though it has not been made clear that the shoes were part of an advertising campaign. Remember, this was 1964, when the American norm was the rotary telephone and television, radio, and print ads were the staple of the advertising industry.

18. The company’s philosophy is sensation trumps appearance.

ASICS focuses on the technology of the shoe and how runners feel about using it. They do not chase the more popular brands such as Nike and Adidas simply because they are not in pursuit of the same demographic. ASICS is interested in the true athlete, and while other shoe competitors take a mass market approach to marketing, ASICS continues to add customers because when all is said and done, it will be the quality of the product and intelligence of the consumer that will allow them to continue to grow.

19. There is a Kill Bill Vol. 1 connection with the company.

In the episode, “The House of Blue Leaves” the shoes Uma Thurman (a.k.a. Kiddo) were actually yellow ASICS. Of course, we cannot say for sure how the company CEO felt when they would soon be covered with the blood of many, but the fact that this episode highlighted the Japanese culture, it is hard to believe much offense was taken.

20. The ASICS approach to the design and creation of running shoes is mostly conservative.

What this means is that people who are looking for style and fashion over performance will not likely be spending any money on a pair of ASICS. The fact is, there is not a whole lot of visual difference between the ASICS trainer models and their Hyperspeed racer brands. But when it comes to that earlier mentioned sensation quality, the racers are both lightweight and flat, making it a favorite for many serious runners.

While it seems that the ASICS brand is only for serious sports professionals and semi-pros, the fact that it is a high quality shoe that is designed for a specific purpose means you will be getting some of the world’s best shoe technology that is intended not only to boost your performance, but to also minimize the risk of injury. This is a little known truth about the ASICS brand among the general public. You may actually pay more for a pair of Nike’s or Adidas’s, and still will not get the same level of commitment to quality and safety as with ASICS.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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