The Story of Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries Corporation, possessed a strong ambition to contribute to society from his days as a youth. He had devoted his 63-year-long life to invention.
Production Department, Textile Machinery Division
He joined the company in 1979. He was assigned to Manufacturing Section No.3 in the Production Department. Responsible for parts production of air spinning machinery. During preparations for start-up of the Kariya Plant 123 Factory, he transferred to the Facilities Maintenance Section of the Manufacturing Department of the Compressor Division. After learning the basics of maintenance, he returned to facilities maintenance at the Textile Machinery Division. After this, he served as the head of machining and of facilities maintenance, and since 2007 has been the head of the Manufacturing Section of the Production Department in the Textile Machinery Division.
Looking back over this time, my predecessors really gave me a lot of opportunities. Shortly after joining the company, I was made responsible for operating what at that time was a state-of-the-art processing machine, and 10 years after entering the company I was given the challenge of working in facilities maintenance at the Compressor Division—this was a difficult time, but I definitely felt that I was growing. However, I didn't consider them opportunities at that time; they merely felt like a series of crises. When I was moved to facilities maintenance, which was out of my field, I was already partway through my career—I couldn't keep on asking people to teach me, and the responsibilities kept mounting. I remember a strong sense of crisis. I felt I had to do something, so I dug around in technical books looking for circuit diagrams, etc., and asked for help from people outside the company, doing whatever I could to improve myself. I feel that this pushing forward, despite a sense of crisis, had a direct effect on my personal growth. Superiors and seniors give young employees an opportunity at a critical time, and the employees who have received this opportunity will work towards the future, while embracing this sense of crisis. I feel that having such a climate is a strength for our manufacturing. My role at present is to give my subordinates opportunities, just as my superiors gave them to me. I consider bringing up the next generation to be passing on the favor given to me by my superiors and seniors.
In 2002, the Textile Machinery Division doubled its production of air jet looms in just one year, and we succeeded in our challenges to increase production to hitherto unseen levels. Given sluggish performance at that time, we achieved this because our employees felt a strong sense of crisis, and gave their all in their efforts. We literally changed this crisis into an opportunity. Now, the whole company is facing the major issue of how we can "bequeath this manufacturing to Japan." But is this sense of crisis actually permeating throughout the whole company? If we can share the sense of crisis between all employees, and have each and every one of them improve themselves, with each giving it their all, then maybe we can use this as an opportunity.