Back in November of 2015, Rachel and I had the honor to visit the Pilot USA headquarters in Jacksonville, FL. Pilot USA is the distributor for Pilot products in the US, and supplies their products to retailers like us. It’s a very important, yet often overlooked part of the process of getting these incredible Japanese products to the US market. They opened up their doors to us and let us show you their operation and it is quite impressive!

We spent two days at Pilot USA touring their facility and meeting with some wonderful people at their company. While we were there we shot some video, which is what you see above here. Here is an outline of what we discuss in the video:

Focus: Goulet/Pilot relationship

  • started 6 years ago, started Pilot relationship 4 years ago 
  • Pilot was skeptical of us at first because we were a small mom-and-pop online only store 
  • Been growing rapidly along with us, one of our larger suppliers. It’s grown to be our top brand in the last year 
  • Nice values alignment between our companies 

Products we carry

  • All FP’s they bring in to the US 
  • Metropolitans and Varsities up through VP’s and beyond 
  • Currently no LE/Maki-e 

Pilot Backstory

  • Founded in 1918 in Tokyo, Japan by Ryosuke Namiki (hence the name) 
  • Started making gold nib pens, has now expanded to a truly global enterprise with Subsidiaries all over the world 

Pilot USA

  • Pilot USA distributor was started about 40 years ago 
  • One of about a dozen distributors in the world, one of the larger ones 
  • 300,000 sq ft facility in Jacksonville, FL 

The Tour Itself

  • Visited for 2 days, toured the whole facility 
    • Fulfillment center, 98,000 sq ft 
    • highly automated 
    • 5 stories of storage 
    • conveyor belts 
    • receiving around 1,200 cargo containers each year! 
  • “The Cage” 
    • where all of the Pilot Fine Writing is stored (except Metropolitans) 
    • This is all the stuff you’d see on our site 
  • Production, 140,000 sq ft 
    • light manufacturing and assembly 
    • making blister packs 
    • labeling 
    • imprinting 
    • testing refills 
    • assembly of certain pens and parts 
  • Offices 
    • Very professional, courteous, spacious, and clean 
  • Tea room/CEO’s chat 
    • What the Goulet/Pilot relationship will look like in the future 
    • heart and soul 
    • not about quantity, but storytelling 
    • passion and excitement 

Namiki pens

  • Raden
  • Chinkin 
  • Maki-e
  • works of art 
  • 7th century 

Our future together

  • It’s about carrying on Pilot’s legacy, their heritage 
  • The passion and spirit we embody speaks to them, and they want us to help to tell their story 

A special thanks to everyone at Pilot USA for hosting us, it was an incredible experience and we’re incredibly grateful for this insight into the inner workings of the company! If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know below.

Write On, 
Brian Goulet