SAKAI, JAPAN (BRAIN)—Longtime Shimano employee Keiichi Hirobe passed away on Nov. 18, 2007. He was 74. A man that had always admitted to having a sweet tooth, he finally lost his lifelong battle against diabetes.
A Shimano employee for 37 years, Hirobe played a key role in the company’s overseas expansion in the late 1950s. In fact, he was the 2nd Shimano employee to set foot on American soil. He was traveling with Shozo Shimano, late chairman of Shimano, Inc., who disembarked the plane before Hirobe.
Hirobe began a career at Shimano on Sept. 5, 1956 that would cover a wide variety of jobs. Starting off in general affairs (Human Resources), he spent most of his time in the sales area—both domestic (Japan) sales and overseas sales including a short stint with Shimano American. He was stationed at Shimano American Corp. to cultivate the sales of components to U.S. manufacturers such as Murray Ohio, Huffy and Columbia. As Hirobe approached retirement age, he was transferred back to general affairs.
Even after his retirement on March 20, 1993, he was seen roaming the halls of Shimano, Inc.—especially in the sales department, his “home away from home.”
Hirobe is remembered by many of the original American customers of Shimano, distributors and manufacturers in Europe, and almost every sector of the bicycle business in Japan. It is rare to find a Shimano employee who is so respected and admired by all in the countries that he has worked.
"I first met Mr. Hirobe when I was in grade school—when he was working for Shimano American,” said Kozo Shimano, senior executive for Shimano American. “At that time, I remember him as a kind and jovial man—very caring towards people and always quick with a joke. Over the years, I viewed him as the 'perfect manager'—nurturing and protective of his staff, and an excellent confidant of senior management. To me, he was a mentor, advisor and friend. He will truly be missed."