Senior Citizen Housing Renovation Expertise
to the World
Real Product Development for Today’s Needs
Japan is a super-aging society. Compared to other nations, it is aging at an alarming pace. In 2020, Japan had the highest ratio of elderly people in the world (*). It is predicted that by 2050 China will have nearly 500 million elderly citizens, making it a considerably large super-aging society. This is a problem not limited to Japan, but one that concerns the entire world. As Japan lunges headfirst as the vanguard into an aging society, the world watches how we deal with the issues of housing for the elderly, and the environmental problems posed by nursing homes.
*Taken from the World Bank 2021
Mazroc Co. Ltd., an expert in building, housing and construction materials which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2021, is one of the first to engage with this global issue. Though we are a trading company, we put quality first as a fabless manufacturer. Our products both meet official quality standards, and our own rigorous in-house standards via our in-house inspection facilities. Our safety initiatives were awarded the PS Award 2020 highest honor, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Award.
Our 3rd generation CEO Sho Matsumoto noticed a gap in the market for renovation products intended for senior citizens. This led him to appoint Managing Director and Development General Manager Shozo Sakuma as Project Team Leader to establish a market in Japan for senior citizen housing renovation.
The goals of conventional renovation and senior citizen housing renovation are completely different. The former generally seeks to repair aging buildings and housing equipement, or change the layout to make an interior more beautiful. The latter, however, offers safety and peace of mind. One of the largest goals is securing support and security for elderly people’s bodily functions, and lessening the burden placed on caregivers. Securing a safe environment entails not just knowledge in the field of construction, but also knowledge of healthcare and welfare.
We conducted investigation after investigation to discern what is needed to provide living spaces that give the elderly peace of mind. A project team was formed in 1999. The project leader, Mazroc’s own Managing Director and Development General Manager Shozo Sakuma speaks about how the team first created a catalogue to convey the image they had in mind. Afterwards, they held seminars throughout every region of Japan in an effort to share knowledge and expertise with construction companies and builders.
Online commerce site “First Reform” was born from the project, aimed at construction professionals. Working together with construction companies to create a groundbreaking service to support an aging society, it received the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Award in 2015 as an “advanced renovation company.” An online commerce system to provide what is needed, where it is needed, and just as much as is needed, available 24 hours a day, that can deliver as little as a single product per order. It is truly a breakthrough in that the system has guaranteed profits for construction companies.
We found that we couldn’t get by with products already available. That’s why we decided to create what we need ourselves!
That’s why even though Mazroc is a trading company, we began product development as a manufacturer as well. Currently First Reform regularly has approximately 6,000 items in stock, and approximately 2,500 types of handrail components in the product lineup.
Current needs become the basis for new product development. Our development team directly listens to construction companies’ and retailers’ opinions and complaints about products, using them as the basis for finding solutions. Our Free R rail, an outdoor use bendable railing was developed through this very process. The approach leading to the entrance to Japanese homes generally have a lot of short, bent conducting wires, with vastly differing grades. Furthermore, minute adjustments are needed after construction to account for the elderly user’s remaining strength. These adjustments used to require measuring the site, drawing up plans and contacting a factory, something that took both time and money. With this development, we have solved all these problems with a single stroke.
“There was a manufacturer who had patented the technology behind bendable rails but could not use it effectively. This became an opportunity to give new life to patented technology that would have otherwise remained shelved. The groundbreaking form of these rails allow them to easily be bent using one’s hands or feet. As such rails can be freely bent and arranged, this makes them suited to any situation, such as stairwell gradients, external and internal angles. The railing’s diameter of 34mm is easy to grasp, and the resin coating makes it neither cold or hot to the touch, perfect for use outdoors, where drastic changes in temperature can occur. Our deep consideration for our clients has contributed to this attention to detail.
This new product is a manifestation of the personality and spirit of the people involved in its making. Professionals from many different walks of life, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, architects, manufacturers have come together towards the singular purpose of creating a safe living space. Rather than trying to do everything ourselves, we gathered expertise from different industries to work towards our goals. Mazroc cherishes this spirit of mutual respect and cooperation. We strive to create win-win relationships with each and every one of our partner enterprises. Sakuma goes on to say that “From product development to our overall business model, we want to provide safer and more efficient services not only for the elderly, but also the doctors, nurses caretakers and renovation contractors who provide support for them.”
The problem of an aging society is a problem of housing. Those of us involved in the housing business must promote the independence of the elderly and provide safe living spaces where they can enjoy their lives with dignity. Our key initiatives are mutual respect and cooperation, and senior citizen housing renovation. As each society continues to grapple with the issue of aging populations, Mazroc Co. Ltd. will continue to strive as an example to the world.