IRVINE, CA (BRAIN)—Kozo Shimano, former president of Shimano American, no longer works for the company that bears his name.
Dave Pfeiffer, president of Shimano American, sent a notice Monday morning to business associates in the bicycle and fishing tackle industries alerting them to Kozo Shimano’s departure from Shimano last Thursday.
“We sent out a notice to customers—key customers and customers that we know he had contact with—letting them know he is no longer with Shimano,” said Penina Bush, vice president of the bicycle components division for Shimano.
Bush declined to explain the reason for his departure.
Kozo Shimano was involved for more than 20 years with the company his grandfather, Shozaburo Shimano, started in 1921. He began working for Shimano Japan in 1987, where he worked in research and development and later in product marketing for the original XTR group. In 1992, he moved back to the United States to work at Shimano American. He served as president of Shimano American from 2000 until 2006, when he stepped down to focus on advocacy and public relations.
Shimano said he is unsure at this time whether he will remain in the industry. “But then, I feel I was destined to work in the business. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers worked in the bicycle business,” Shimano said.
His maternal great-grandfather Kotaro Takagi owned the factory where Shozaburo Shimano apprenticed before he went on to start Shimano. Takagi became known in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s for its bulletproof BMX crank sets.
Shimano said in the short term he plans to spend time with his wife and three teenage daughters. “After I tie up some loose ends with Shimano, I plan to devote more time to my family. I’ve basically neglected them for the past 20 years, as I've devoted most of my time to Shimano,” he said.
Shimano said being at home would be a big change from traveling as much as half the year. During the busiest time of his career at Shimano, he averaged 10 trips to Japan over a 12-month period. He accumulated 2 million miles and lifetime privileges on United Airlines. “Still, I can’t complain as a lot of product managers are going to Taiwan every month,” he added.
Bush said Kozo’s departure would not affect the company’s bicycle business. “Our organization was set up and his role was separate from running the day-to-day OEM and aftermarket business,” Bush said.
She said that the company is committed to continuing his advocacy and political work. “The last thing we want this change to affect is our involvement in those areas of the business,” Bush said. “We fully intend to stay involved in whatever committee or organization he was involved in,” she said, adding that she can fill in on the Bikes Belong board and Phil Morlock, Shimano’s director of environmental affairs, will remain heavily involved in advocacy efforts.
Bush said she had worked with Kozo for at least 15 of her 21 years with the company. “I wish him and his family all the best,” she said.