No strings attached with Hill’s Roy Miyahara – Guitar CEO superstar now rubs people the right way

Local Life February 21, 2014 0 Comments

Most customers of Diamond Spa, 8430 Germantown Ave., probably have no idea that its owner, Roy Miyahara, seen here in front of the day spa, was once president of one of the world’s most important guitar-making companies. (Photo by Carole Verona)

Most customers of Diamond Spa, 8430 Germantown Ave., probably have no idea that its owner, Roy Miyahara, seen here in front of the day spa, was once president of one of the world’s most important guitar-making companies. (Photo by Carole Verona)

by Carole Verona

When you meet Roy Miyahara, the first thing you want to know is why he gave up a lucrative position as president of a successful international company to become a massage therapist and, subsequently, the owner of Diamond Spa in Chestnut Hill. For him, the answer is simple: “I was with the company for 30 years, and I started to think about the future. Even though I was the company president, I was not the sole owner. So if you don’t perform, they still might say, ‘You’re out.’ At the time, I was also involved in doing martial arts training and was interested in health and wellness and in how the body works.” He also saw the handwriting on the wall in terms of a downturn in the industry.

Miyahara, 63, was born and raised in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto, Japan. He lost his father when he was very young and lived with his mother until he was 16. She was poor and could not afford to send him to school, so he left home and went out on his own. He graduated in 1969 from Tajima Kita High School in Japan, where he majored in business. His first job was at a chinaware factory. In 1969, he started doing basic warehouse work at Hoshino Gakki, makers of musical instruments, in Nagoya, Japan, and ended up overseeing the purchasing department there.

He came to the U.S. in 1973 as a quality controller for Hoshino (USA) in Bensalem, Bucks County, which manufactures Ibanez guitars and TAMA drums. After a series of consistent promotions over the years, Miyahara was named president of the company in 1998, a position he held until he left in 2002. The company reported close to $64 million in total sales in his final year, which represented an 83% growth during his tenure as president. Music Trades Magazine named Hoshino (USA) Company of the Year in April, 2001.

While at the company, Miyahara was known for the quality control initiatives he established; product innovation, which included pioneering work on the development of a seven-string guitar; and a focus on the human side of the business.

Roy Miyahara with Dickey Betts, a great Southern rock guitarist and  founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

Roy Miyahara with Dickey Betts, a great Southern rock guitarist and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

Miyahara enlisted and trained local, young musicians to inspect and test the guitars. He also coordinated endorsements from various artists, including the bands Korn and Limp Bizkit. The company’s biggest involvement with artists came through forming a relationship with The Grateful Dead. “I really didn’t know who Jerry Garcia was, and I wasn’t familiar with their music,” said Miyahara. “I met Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia at a concert at the Civic Center in 1974. After that, I met with them every time they came to town. I always had the best spot backstage to watch the band.”

Because of his own experiences while growing up, Miyahara has a deep understanding of the hardships people can encounter at any given time. “My parents were very kind to me,” said Roy, who tries to extend that kindness and respect to other people. “My business motto has always been ‘Do the right thing.’ You can’t do business in a sneaky way or at someone else’s expense. You might be successful, but you are not being truthful.”

Miyahara met Sande Jacobson, a chiropractor, at a martial arts class. “I invited him to come to my company because I thought it would be beneficial for interested employees to get chiropractic therapy. Sande would come in every other Tuesday, and the company would pay half of the fee. The employees loved it! In addition to getting an extra 20 minutes of break time, they were improving their health. It was a three-way win/win situation — for the company, for the employees and for Sande because it helped him increase his business.”

When Miyahara finally decided to go into the health and wellness industry, he began studying at the Professional School of Massage, which was located in Langhorne, lower Bucks County. “I started going at night while I was still president of the company,” he said. He then increased the time to include weekends and daytime. It took him almost a year to accumulate the 600 hours of study necessary to receive certification.

At the school, Miyahara specialized in shiatsu, an ancient Japanese therapeutic technique. He explained that shiatsu massage uses finger pressure on the body’s meridian pressure points to release the blockage of energy and to channel energy throughout the body. He also studied general, Swedish and deep-tissue massage plus a variety of other therapies such as Perle therapy, which involves body manipulation for muscular-related problems.

In 2003, Miyahara and Sande Jacobson opened The Human Touch Institute, a corporate wellness business. According to Miyahara, the business didn’t succeed because companies didn’t want to spend money on employee benefits. Meanwhile, he got a call from 3000BC in Chestnut Hill and worked there as a massage therapist for two years. In 2005, the previous owner of Diamond Spa hired him as a massage therapist. Miyahara eventually became manager and then purchased the business when the opportunity came his way in 2007.

Miyahara doesn’t think of himself as a healer. He believes that most people are not aware of what’s going on with their health and of the connection between the mental and the physical. “The mental part actually controls the physical part,” he said. “You have to learn to disconnect … When people say, ‘That’s great; I feel wonderful,’ I know it’s OK and that it’s working.”

Diamond Spa has won countless accolades from customers, websites and media outlets. For example, they were called “Top Day Spa in Philadelphia” by CBS Philly; they were placed in the “Top 5 Spas” on the MyFoxPhilly Hot List; they were voted one of the “Top 5 Manicure and Pedicure” establishments in the Delaware Valley for four years in a row by www.cityvoter.com; they were selected as “The Best Manicure/Pedicure in the Northwest” by the Germantown Courier/Mt. Airy Times Express, and they have received 16 5-star reviews on yelp.com.

Roy Miyahara with the late, legendary Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead at the Philadelphia Civic Center in 1974, just before a “Dead” performance.

Roy Miyahara with the late, legendary Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead at the Philadelphia Civic Center in 1974, just before a “Dead” performance.

One typical recent review by a local resident, Danielle C., said: “I visited Diamond Spa last week for a pedicure and Swedish massage. Both were amazing!! The manager and staff were so accommodating that I can’t wait to go back. I was very pleased with both services, and both are worth their costs, which are reasonable compared to other spas. The massage in particular was one of the best I have ever received, and I go on a monthly basis. I had a male masseur, who adjusted the massage accordingly to what my body needed. He ever ran out to feed my parking meter, so I didn’t get a ticket!!”

Miyahara lives in both Chestnut Hill and in Langhorne. His wife, Shirley, is a dog trainer.

For more information about Diamond Spa at 8430 Germantown Ave., its services and upcoming events, go to ilovediamondspa.com or call 215-242-4800.

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