OSAKA – Tetsuro Funai, the founder of audiovisual electronics maker Funai Electric Co., known for his business strategy of mass producing items at low cost, died of pneumonia at an Osaka hospital on Tuesday, the company said. He was 90.
Born in Kobe, Funai, the son of a sewing machine manufacturer, opened a wholesale shop for sewing machines in 1951 at age 24 and started exporting them abroad. He then began manufacturing and selling transistor radios, which led him to establish Funai Electric in 1961.
The company later diversified its business and embarked on production of televisions and DVD recorders with sales expanding overseas, mainly in North America. Funai is a major supplier of U.S. retail giant Walmart.
He established Funai’s production method after learning at a Toyota Motor Corp. factory that designing, manufacturing and selling in one go can help lower costs.
Even after retiring from the post of chairman last year, he spearheaded company efforts to achieve a business recovery with the launch of new Funai brand television models in the Japanese market.
Cheaper than TVs with similar image quality produced by other makers, the new Funai products, including 4K high-definition TVs, hit the shelves of Yamada-Denki Co. in June, as the company returned to the domestic TV market for the first time since 2006.
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