[From July Issue 2014]
Kuroneko Yamato no TA-Q-BIN
With just four trucks, Yamato Transport Co., Ltd, was founded in 1919 in Ginza, Tokyo as a company specializing in making deliveries by automobile. It’s well known for its tagline “Kuroneko Yamato no TA-Q-BIN (Black Cat Yamato Courier Service). The logo of a black cat with a kitten in its mouth can be seen all over Japan. The word “TA-Q-BIN (takkyuubin)” (express home delivery) is widely known, but, as it’s a registered trademark, can be only used by Yamato Transport.
In 1976, Yamato Transport founded a private company; Japan’s first home delivery service to target private individuals. That service was named TA-Q-BIN. Until the first half of the 1970s, Japan’s transport companies dealt mostly with business freight. It took as many as four to five days to deliver private parcels. That’s why the then President OGURA Masao put together a service for “collection by phone call” and “next day delivery.”
Before he started the courier service, Ogura worried about how many branches he should open. In the end he used the number of police stations across the nation – then 1,200 – as a guideline. He thought, “The role of the police is to ensure public order in the area. With the same number of branches, Yamato should available to every resident in the area.” Today they have around 4,000 branches.
The idea of a courier service quickly caught on and many people signed up to use it. Today Yamato Transport handles around 1.6 billion parcels a year. If the same number of standard-sized tangerine boxes (30 centimeters tall) were placed on top of one another, the stack would be high enough to reach the moon.
Once the ease and convenience of their courier service became well known, many within the company began to suggest that they offer other services besides to door to door delivery. That’s how the “ski courier service” got underway in 1983. It was originally the idea of an employee in Nagano Prefecture, who wanted to do something to boost the number of parcels after the severe drop in custom following the end of the apple season.
One winter’s day, he was looking at a national highway and noticed a bus carrying a lot of skies on board. This sight got the employee thinking, “If we transport them, our customers will be freed up to enjoy their skiing trip. This will supply us with a new cargo to replace the apples.” In this way, the first business to couple a courier service with the leisure industry was launched and quickly caught on nationwide.
Since then, Yamato Transport has been at the forefront of developing new user-friendly services; these have sprung up one after the other, for example, “golf TA-Q-BIN,” “cool TA-Q-BIN” and “airport TA-Q-BIN.” They have also strived to contribute to society, for example, after the Great East Japan Earthquake a “Relief Supply Transport Cooperation Team” was set up in the hardest hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
Text: ITO Koichi