In 1918, the Tanaka business was started in Japan by Takashi Tanaka who created “Tanaka Iron Works” near Tokyo, Japan. In 1941 the manufacturing plant near Narashino (approximately 25 miles SE of Tokyo) was built and in 1948, Tanaka began research and development of compact internal combustion engines. In 1950, the company name was changed to Tanaka Kogyo Co., Ltd. The word “Kogyo” (pronounced “Koh-gyoh”) means industries in Japanese.
In 1951, Tanaka began mass production of moped engines and in 1954 produced and marketed a 125 cc motorcycle engine. Their focus on larger, moped and motorcycle engines continued until 1962, when they opened a plant in Shirako and introduced the world’s smallest industrial, general purpose 2-cycle engine (22cc/P-7). In 1965, Sieken Tanaka (Takashi’s son) became President of the company and they began their pursuit of worldwide markets.
In 1968, Tanaka began marketing 50, 60 and 100 cc motorcycle engines for export to North America. In 1971, they produced a new chainsaw and hedge trimmer for export markets and in 1974, introduced a 2.5 hp outboard motor that would eventually be private label for Sears. In 1975, Tanaka expanded its production plant in Shirako and began production of a 23 cc (1.2 hp) bicycle motor.
In 1978, Tanaka Kogyo (USA) Co., Ltd. was established in Kent, WA to pursue and support North American sales. In 1984, Tanaka acquired a small mail order company, Aquabug International, expanded its product offering and renamed it Sporting Edge.
In 1985, Tanaka relocated its entire operation to a new 70,000 sq. ft. facility in Bothell, WA. In 1987, the Tanaka Kogyo (USA) Co., Ltd/Sporting Edge assets were purchased from Tanaka Japan by an investment group led by Bill Thomson. The company, while now separate from Tanaka Japan, retained the identity of Tanaka Kogyo (USA) Co., Ltd and the exclusive marketing rights for Tanaka North, Central and South America.
In 1989, Tanaka’s USA assets and marketing rights were purchased by the Ariens Co. of Brillion, Wisconsin. Soon after, a new subsidiary company of Ariens, Tanaka Ltd., was established to continue marketing and support of Tanaka products. In 1990, a new line of Ariens brand 2-cycle handheld products (made by Tanaka) was introduced for Ariens Distributors and Dealers. In 1992, Ariens discontinued its relationship with Tanaka and ISM was established by a five long-time Tanaka employees.
In May of 2007, Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd from Japan acquired Tanaka and created two new companies- Nikko Tanaka Engineering Co., Ltd. to conduct OPE manufacturing and domestic sales in Japan and then Nikko Tanaka Engineering USA Ltd., to conduct North American sales and support, based out of Auburn, WA.
By January 2009, the business functions of Nikko Tanaka Engineering USA were fully absorbed as a brand within Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd’s North American division; Hitachi Koki USA Ltd (commonly referred to as Hitachi Power Tools) based out of Norcross, GA. The goal has been to create synergy between Tanaka Outdoor Power Equipment and the Hitachi Power Tool business resulting in improved business efficiencies, and the collaboration of product lines to benefit from technological innovations, as well as share in R&D endeavors going forward.
1943 Tanaka became the leading manufacturer in aero plane industry with the development and production of high accuracy airborne fuel and hydraulic pumps
1951 Began production and marketing of moped engines
1954 Produced and marketed TAS Vanguard 125cc motorcycle engines
1955 Produced and marketed compact general-purpose D-51 (50cc) engines
1957 Began production of the TAS moped (50cc) and general purpose J-1 (37cc) engines
1960 Pioneered an innovative concept in backpack sprayer design by combining the blower fan and engine cooling fan into one unit.
1962 Introduced the world’s smallest industrial general-purpose two-cycle engine- P7 (22cc)
1964 Incorporated the successful P-7 engine into lightweight power products, including liquid pumps (PC-12), engine drills (PED-3), electric generators (PEG-200), and Japan’s smallest chainsaws (PCS-3).
1966 Villers Engineering Co., Ltd., England, obtained a licensing agreement to manufacture the successful (P-7) engine
1968 Produced the “Chibi” (50cc), “Tora” (60cc) and “Taka” (100cc) motorcycles and exported them to North America
1971 Produced ECS-5 (37cc) chain saws and PHT-22 Hedge trimmers. Received a special importation license enabling a joint venture between Tanaka and a Brazillian company for the manufacture of back pack sprayers
1973 Introduced a new generation of lightweight, general-purpose engines. Developed the QEG-300 Generator
1974 Introduced the TOB-25 outboard motor. Began local production of the B-70 (70cc) and B-100 (100cc) chain saws in Brazil, as part of the Brazilian joint venture
1975 Developed a 23 cc front wheel drive bicycle engine- QBM-23 Bicycle Motor. Produced the general purpose T-50 engine and T-23 engine used on Grass Trimmer, Hedge Trimmer, Drill
1977 Developed and produced the ECS-35 Chainsaw (35cc). Introduced the TCP-38 Centrifugal Pump
1980 Introduced a revolutionary concept in outboard motor design by producing lightweight outboard motors which feature dual automatic drive (TOB-175 & TOB-300) with Dual Automatic Clutch systems. Produced the THT-162 hedge trimmer
1981 Introduced the ECS-405 and -505 Chainsaws
1982 Color Coded Nylon Line
1983 The BRAIN® Fully Automatic and adjustable cutting head
1984 Perfect Mix® 2-Cycle Oil in a 16 oz. self-measuring bottle
1985 TLE-500 Edger featuring gear / shaft driven cutting blade
1986 AST-7000 Electric Start Trimmer / Brushcutter
1986 TLE-550 Edger and TBL-455 Backpack Blower with innovative frame / harness system
1987 TED-260 Reversible and TED-265 Reversible / Hammer Drill
1988 TST-218 Telescopic Shaft Trimmer / Brush Cutter
1989 New Accessory Merchandiser Kits
1990 ECS-320 / ECS-330 (32cc) Chainsaws and TED-262 Drill
1991 SRS Sound Reduction System used on TBC-220SS, THT-210, TED-210 and TCP-210
1992 TBC-250 / 300 Grass Trimmers with SRS
1993 TPE-250 Portable / Handheld Edger / TED-262L Drill with locking gear case
1994 THT-2120 26" Double Sided Hedge trimmer with the Quick-Twist pivoting rear handle
1995 TED-262R Drill with reverse
1996 TBC-2510 Trimmer, ECS-3301 / 3351 Chainsaws
1997 THT-2520 30” Double Sided Hedge Trimmer
1998 40cc PureFire Engine, TCS-3401 Chainsaw
1999 26cc PureFire Engine, Articulating Hedge Trimmer Attachment
2000 25cc PureFire Engine
2003 PF-3300 PureFire Engine
2010 PureFire II Engine