NAME: Daisuke Kobayashi
COMPANY: SR Suntour
Daisuke Kobayashi is the venerable manager of a venerable company. He oversees components maker SR Suntour, one of the oldest names in the business.
Make that two of the oldest names in the business. SR—Sakae Ringyo Ltd.—and SunTour were separate until 1991, when they merged to become SR Suntour.
SunTour, once a dominant name in derailleurs, traces its beginnings to 1912, the year the Maeda Iron Works Company started making bicycle freewheels and sprockets and machinery for agricultural items.
SunTour was a dominant brand during the Japanese bike boom of the 1970s. But changing times over the next two decades, including Shimano’s introduction of indexed shifting and the sharp appreciation of the yen against the dollar, eventually led to SunTour’s demise as an independent brand.
The company relocated from Japan to Taiwan in the 1990s as Taiwan became a more economical production base. Kobayashi said SR Suntour also wanted to have better connections with bicycle manufacturers in Taiwan.
Today, SR Suntour manufactures a long list of components including suspension front forks, rear suspension, suspension seat posts, chainwheels and many drivetrain products.
From its headquarters in Taiwan, Kobayashi oversees 1,500 employees at a factory in Taiwan and two factories in China. Annual sales are about $150 million, Kobayashi said.
At 62, Kobayashi is one of the oldest A-Team members on the Tour de Taiwan, but he is ready to ride. “It is very challenging for me to join this tour, but we hope this activity will motivate the local people to have a more healthy life with bikes,” Kobayashi said.
Kobayashi has been “married” to SR Suntour as long as he has been married to his wife, Yohko: 38 years. The Kobayashis have two daughters, Yuki, 30, and Kaori, 28.