An Idea from the Workplace Creates a Memorable 15th Anniversary Event
In June 1963, a company newsletter set forth the details regarding a special contest, in which the employees could come up with ideas for an event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the company's founding. The contest's basic objective was as follows.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the company's establishment, we will hold a commemorative ceremony and event, the concept of which is to be proposed by the employees. The point is to foster the energy of all Honda Motor employees, to enhance their sense of mission in the company, and to advance to a new phase as a rapidly developing organization.
Group photo of Hamamatsu Factory's First Machinery Section, which took grand prize with their proposition, "Night in an Imaginary International City"
No limit was set for the budget required to pull off the idea, which employees had only two weeks to submit. The grand prize was 500,000 yen for the winning section, which was to number up to fifty members. Beyond that, 5,000 yen was to be added for each additional member. This was a bold offer at a time when the first monthly paycheck for a college graduate was around 28,000 yen.
The year 1963 was a pivotal one for Honda. It served as a springboard for rapid expansion, with the company's first sales of four-wheeled vehicles the T-360 and S-500. The year also saw an unprecedented increase in the production of Super Cubs, as well as an increase in exports.
Takeo Fujisawa, the senior managing director at the time, talks about this event in the July 1963 company newsletter:
In the period of just fifteen years since the founding of the company, we have made significant progress toward our goal of being an export company. Isn't it fantastic that we were able to realize what was once merely a dream?
Ten years ago, when we imported machinery worth 400 million yen, we decided that anniversary events would be forestalled until we could truly say we'd earned the dollars ourselves.
When we look ambitiously toward the future now, we should never let ourselves be content with what we have at the present. On the occasion of our 15th anniversary, I would like to take the opportunity to renew our confidence and our pledge to that principle.
Fujisawa's words brimmed with enthusiasm for the company's 15th anniversary ceremony and its potential as a motivating force toward progress. The goal, obviously, was to make Honda the single greatest exporter in Japan.