Kozo Shimano leaves family business

46-year-old led Shimano American during Armstrong reign

Kozo Shimano, grandson of company founder Shozaburo Shimano, has left Shimano American, the California-based division he led from 2000 until December 2006.

"I'm not really sure what my plans are," the 46-year-old said. "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. All three of my daughters are in high school; I think this would be a great time to bond more closely with them, before they head off to college."

Shimano lead the company during the high-flying years of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France reign between 1999 and 2005. The Japanese component maker introduced its top-of-the-line Dura-Ace race gruppo in 1973, and battled component makers Simplex, Mavic and Campagnolo for years. Armstrong's first Tour victory in 1999 was Shimano's as well. Recently, Armstrong invested in the Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking financial deal with Shimano rival SRAM of Chicago, where 40 percent of the company was sold for nearly US$200 million. Armstrong had been a Shimano athlete for 20 years.

Shimano was born in Japan and raised in New Jersey. He went to college at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, then International Christian University (ICU), in Tokyo, to learn Japanese.

"Before Shimano, I worked for ASICS Tiger Corporation in California, in the marketing/product development department for cycling shoes and clothing," he said. "I started working for Shimano Japan in 1987. The first few years were spent in the research and development department. Then, I went into the product marketing department, where I was project leader of developing the original XTR component group."  

In 1992, Shimano moved back to the US to work at Shimano American Corporation in Irvine, California. He was named president in 2000. In 2006, he stepped down to focus his time on fishing and bicycle advocacy.

"Will I remain in the bike business? I don't know that at this time," he said. "But then, I feel I was destined to work in the business. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers worked in the bicycle business. My (maternal) great-grandfather Takagi owned the factory where my (paternal) grandfather, Shozaburo Shimano, was an apprentice. Shozaburo then went on to start Shimano in 1921."

Takagi is best known in the US for their BMX cranksets during the 1970s and 1980s.

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