PILOT Corp., one of the world’s leading writing instrument manufacturers, celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.

With over a century of providing innovative, stylish and high-quality writing instruments to consumers around the world, the Japan-headquartered company continues to draw international attention as a market leader.

PILOT’s pens have been used in South Africa for over 50 years. A subsidiary, Pilot Pen South Africa (PPSA) was established by Pilot Pen U.K. in the country in 1997. In 2006, the ownership was transferred to PILOT Corp. (Japan). Since 2008, PPSA has expanded to nine other countries on the African continent. PILOT is also doing business in many other African markets.

PILOT offers a wide range of innovative products to suit all writing requirements. Products include the limited-edition Namiki fountain pen, PILOT’s erasable Frixion, gel-ink pens and traditional ballpoint pens.

“Despite operating in a relatively flat market over the last five years, our business in South Africa has grown from strength to strength,” said Steven Groenewold, managing director of PPSA. “We have grown the business based on the awareness of the PILOT brand, our product range and our successful marketing strategy.”

In the last seven years, PPSA has achieved record growth in terms of value and the business has doubled in size.

“We constantly re-invest back into the business and we have a well-trained, quality-driven team of people,” said Groenewold. “In terms of delivering high-quality customer service, Japanese companies are head and shoulders above the rest and this same customer-focused approach has enabled us to achieve great things in South Africa and other African markets.”

In 2008, PPSA launched a livelihood program in several South African townships. The company provided residents with the opportunity to sell PILOT pens and the initiative created commercial opportunities while supporting education and the arts.

“The program has really gained traction in the last three years and reflects our commitment to provide high-quality PILOT products to all strata of the population,” said Masahiro Horiuchi, director of PPSA.

“As African economies continue to develop, purchasing power will increase,” said Groenewold. “We want PILOT to be the first brand that comes to mind when customers upgrade from an affordable pen to a more premium-quality pen — one that they will enjoy using and treasure for years to come.”