Takeshi Tanaka started the wheel company in 1977 and has thrived building some of the best aluminum alloy wheels and accessories the world has known.
If you’ve ever gone to a drift event or seen a serious import build, then you’ve probably come across real deal Work Wheels. Unfortunately we learned, thanks to a post by Stance Nation CEO Elvis Skender earlier today (Aug. 19, 2015), that the founder and CEO of Work Wheels Takeshi Tanaka passed away. Although the exact cause of his death or the details are scarce that not what’s important at this time. What is important was that he was beloved by many fans and did his best to promote good relations with both OEM manufacturers and enthusiasts through quality products. Check out the post and kind words posted by Elvis below.
"“I was recently informed about the passing of my friend and an incredibly inspiring human being Tanaka-San (President of Work Wheels). I was fortunate enough to meet him a couple years ago and I cherished every moment we got to spend together. Tanaka-San was always extremely kind to me and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity he gave me to put my company’s name next to his. RIP Tanaka-San. #workwheels #stancenation“"
The story goes that when Takeshi Tanaka was searching for a name for his company, he gave a simple explanation, “If you work hard, anything can be achieved. For example, if you want to make money you have to work hard. That’s why I chose the name “Work” for the company.”
Regarded as the leading producer of one, two and three piece forged wheels for aftermarket wheel choices, Tanaka built the company on the popularity of a few key wheel choices. Still produced today in 14″ and 15″ variants, the Work Equip 01 and Work Equip 03 (pictured below) are regarded as classic designs that have withstood the test of time and are often used to build period-correct vehicles. Other notable designs include the Work Meister (supposedly Tanaka’s personal favorite), VSXX and Work Emotion line of wheels.
As far as being an innovator and leader in the manufacturing process, Work Wheels was one of the first major Japanese manufacturers to use an “on demand system” where demand is the precursor to production. A typical factory will produce a large inventory of product, then allow that product to be sold through stores, catalog sales and other means oftentimes with inventory sitting. With on-demand manufacturing, production is based on actual orders. This process is now in use by many companies today. Check out how well there manufacturing process is thanks to BOWLS FILMS below.
Tanaka-san (as he’s called in Japan and in the industry) has left behind a legacy that few can match. Employing over 160 employees today and still producing some of the most sought after wheels, his legacy of quality products, efficient manufacturing, and a true entrepreneurial spirit will continue to inspire and live on literally on the cars of his fans for decades to come.
Fortunately, there are a few interviews of Tanaka-san floating around on the internet. Check them out below.