Venerable primary wholesaler Watanabe Kotetsu-ten Co., Ltd., which was founded in Tokyo in 1928, established what was to become Watex Hokkaido as its Sapporo sales office in 1967. In 1982, Watanabe Kotetsu-ten came under the umbrella of Nissho Iwai Corporation (now Sojitz Corporation) and changed its name to Wataei Steel Co., Ltd. Following Metal One's establishment, Watex Corporation was launched in 2004 based on the commercial rights of Wataei Steel. In 2005, the Hokkaido area operation was spun off to form Watex Hokkaido.
Watex Hokkaido is involved in the warehousing, processing, and selling of a broad range of construction materials, including H beams, columns, general shapes, light beams, pipes, plates and sheets, and flat and round bars. Business volume was roughly 72,000 tonnes in fiscal 2008, divided more or less evenly between sales to fabricators and other consumers and sales to retailers, such as secondary wholesalers. In addition to its headquarters in Sapporo's suburbs, the company has four sales bases in major cities: a branch in Asahikawa, sales offices in Obihiro and Kitami, and an office in Hakodate. At any given time, there are approximately 15,000 tonnes of inventory at three warehouses at Watex Hokkaido's headquarters and at the Asahikawa and Kitami locations. The company's headquarters is equipped with processing facilities for the cutting, boring, and edge preparation of H beams, columns, and other materials.
Watex Hokkaido is set apart by its inventory of abundant products that can be delivered just in time. It has set up a delivery system in which orders received by 4 p.m. will be delivered the next day anywhere in Hokkaido. Thus, the company boasts Hokkaido's top sales volume in the construction materials sector with high-value-added services that other companies are unable to imitate.
Koji Kato, who rose through the ranks and took up the leadership reins as president in 2006, wants to emphasize meticulous sales, saying, "We cover the vast area of Hokkaido with a small, skilled team. The market has cooled a notch from September of last year due to the impact of the economic slowdown, but communication with customers is important precisely at times like these, and we will take the time to listen to what they want." Specifically, Watex Hokkaido intends to beef up its retailing strategies, e.g., developing small-lot customers. Also, he notes the extremely close relationship the company has with Metal One Hokkaido, coordinating and cooperating in various aspects of business, such as orders for large projects.