When IRIS USA, Inc. took up residence in a 120,000-square-foot building in Stockton, CA in 1994, the operation was originally intended to be a storage facility for products, such as pet food, to be exported to Japan.
Fortunately, Kentaro Ohayama, president of IRIS Ohyama Inc., IRIS USA’s parent company, also decided to convert part of the building into a manufacturing operation in order to introduce to the American public a line of clear storage products. Until then, plastic containers were the main product in the US storage market, but there were no clear plastic products. Today, because of IRIS’s influence and entry into the North American market, clear storage products are the main storage products in the US.
For the first six months in the US, IRIS USA’s sales struggled. But, after a major West Coast retailer began selling the Company’s products, many other retailers followed. In short time, IRIS USA products began to attract nationwide attention and sales took off, far exceeding everyone’s expectations. As a result, the Company grew rapidly which, because Stockton was not adequate size-wise or logistics-wise, necessitated the construction of a 365,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Pleasant Prairie, WI. The new facility opened its doors in 1996 and became the firm’s U.S. headquarters.
Expansion of IRIS USA’s storage product line led to even more rapid sales growth for the Company and, in February 2002, IRIS USA broke ground for construction of a third manufacturing and distribution facility, located in Mesquite, TX, a community located 15 minutes east of downtown Dallas. Production at the new 270,000-square-foot Texas facility began in September 2002.
Continued explosive sales growth resulted in the addition in 2005 of 245,000-square-feet of warehouse space to IRIS USA’s facility in Pleasant Prairie, WI. It brought total warehouse capacity to about 390,000-square-feet and increased the building’s overall manufacturing, distribution and office complex to over 610,000-square-feet.
A lack of adequate warehouse space in IRIS USA’s Stockton, CA facility and a dramatic shift in the Company’s client base in Western states led to a strategic decision to close that facility in early 2006. At the same time, plans were underway to expand its Mesquite, TX warehouse operation by some 125,000-square-feet. The addition was completed in early 2007 and brought total warehouse capacity to approximately 265,000-square-feet and the building’s overall size to approximately 400,000-square feet.
The two facilities geographically complement each other and, with the recent expansions and almost 350 hard-working, dedicated employees, allow the Company to better satisfy the growing demand for IRIS USA products and to take advantage of new and challenging growth opportunities.
IRIS Ohyama, Inc. - Our Parent Company
IRIS products move around the world today through the vast IRIS Ohyama Inc. global network – from Asia, to America, to Europe. Offering over 14,000 products in Japan alone, IRIS operates some of the most sophisticated and highly automated manufacturing and distribution facilities in the world.
The history of IRIS can be traced back to 1958, but the company as it is today really got its start in 1971.
By the mid-1970’s, the Company was facing difficult times. The primary markets it served were shrinking rapidly due to sudden steep rises in material costs, reduction of acreage under cultivation, and fishing quotas. Company sales dropped sharply and employment was cut in half.
Fortunately for the future of IRIS, out of crisis a success story was born. Kentaro Ohyama, the Company’s owner, had been carefully researching other Japanese markets in which IRIS could use its strengths and core technology in plastic molding. He found one – in the booming garden products industry. By spring of 1980, IRIS was shipping and producing plastic pots for consumers and once again Company sales began to climb after hitting rock bottom in 1979.
The problem with garden products, though, was their highly seasonal sales nature. While production facilities were run at full capacity during the garden season of early Spring, in the off-season they stood idle. And so, in 1986, IRIS branched out into another growing industry – the pet supplies market. Expansion into this market not only helped to balance the level of operations throughout the year, but it also proved to be very profitable.
The Company followed up its advance into the pet supplies market by entering the storage container and tools markets in 1988, household goods and stationary markets in 1989, and the suitcase market in 1990. Merchandise lines expanded and sales boomed.
IRIS Ohyama expanded into the global market in 1996 with the construction of a manufacturing and distribution facility in Stockton, CA, followed by the opening in 1997 of a manufacturing and distribution operation in Dalian, China.
Today, IRIS Ohyama employs almost 5,000 employees worldwide. Its global network includes its world headquarters in Sendai, Japan, and eight major Japanese manufacturing and distribution operations located in Kakuda, Saitama, Hokkaido, Ohgawara, Fujioyama, Maibara, Sanda and Tosu.
Foreign operations include its two US manufacturing and distribution facilities, one in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, its IRIS USA headquarters, and the other in Mesquite, Texas. It also includes four manufacturing and distribution facilities and a retail store in Dalian, China; a manufacturing and distribution operation in Tilburg, The Netherlands; and a manufacturing and distribution facility in Gunpo-City, Korea.