Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963

Crossing Boundaries to International Production

Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963

The Future: A Lesson in Overseas Expansion

Mr. Fujisawa paid a visit to Belgium Honda out of concern for the situation. "In the end," he said, "the basic rule of factory operation is to produce only as much product as can be sold." Therefore, after that, Belgium Honda began working together with the local associates in an effort to rebuild. So valiant was the effort, in fact, that not a single associate was laid off. The associates of Honda factories in Japan, as well as the R&D Center, even contributed, helping to support Belgian production and product enhancements. For their own part, most of the local associates chose to stay with the company and share in the hardships faced by the Japanese staff.

The Future: A Lesson in Overseas Expansion

The factory's September 1963 opening ceremony was arranged so that it would coincide with the first anniversary of Belgium Honda's founding. Soichiro Honda flew in from Japan to share the joy with his local associates.
(Photos courtesy of Mr. Hideo Iwamura and Mr. Ryoji Matsui.)

Unfortunately, though, the challenges were to last many more years, despite numerous attempts to improve things.

In 1964, Koichiro Yoshizawa was assigned to manage the Sales Division at Belgium Honda, in the hope that the company could be revitalized. Several times, Fujisawa told him "Once you withdraw, you'll never be able to come back again. To do so would entail a tremendous amount of money and effort, and it would most certainly hurt our reputation. So, we'll also help you out from Japan. Please see the situation through, no matter how tough it gets."

The EEC's original policy had thus been a very real threat to Honda's business activities in Europe, and in response, the company's top leadership had decided to establish factory operations in the region. Accordingly, the factory was launched through the concerted efforts of numerous associates, who in overcoming differences in language and culture managed to establish a system of their own.

The Japanese way of thinking and doing things, however, was not always compatible with the ways of its European hosts. As a result, the company could not fully comprehend the demands of the European market, and this brought significant hardships to Honda's people, including many local associates.

The hardships, on the other hand, became assets that Honda could apply to its eventual expansion overseas. Many of those who experienced trying times in Belgium later became involved in Honda's global growth, helping run production bases around the world. The bitter lessons of their Belgian experience were to be quite useful in the success of future efforts.

"The Belgian experience was one of hardship in every aspect of work, including production, sales, development, and management," Yoshizawa recalled. "But through such experiences, I believe the lessons learned about corporate activities overseas were effectively conveyed to the Honda associates by word of mouth. It probably wasn't even necessary to put them down in writing."

Belgium Honda did rebuild, though, and is now an important producer of automotive parts as well as a marketer of motorcycles, cars, and power products. Prior to that, in 1978, Honda Europe was established in Gent, Belgium, as a center for the distribution of products and parts located along a canal front, convenient to expressways and railroads. Today, Honda Europe single-handedly prepares the distribution of automobiles shipped from Japan for the European market, and provides supplies of locally obtained parts. By removing some of the burden that would otherwise be placed on Honda corporationas throughout Europe, it plays a major role in improving services and the distribution of goods throughout the continent.

Honda Europe enjoyed a very smooth launch, thanks in large part to years of work in Belgium, during which Honda earned the praise, understanding and cooperation of the local community.

Accordingly, the Honda Belgium Fund was established in 1981 for the purpose of supporting cultural and technical research exchanges between the two countries. The offices for this venture were set up Belgium Honda, which continues as a leader in Belgian-Japanese cross-cultural activities.

Belgium Honda, having gone through years of hardship, had thus succeeded in extending its range of activity to many areas. It is a success story that would not have been possible if it were not for the hard work, dedication, and integrity of so many, including the Japanese staff, local associates, and people of Belgium.

Note: Honda's employees are also referred as to "associates."

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

1990 - 1999
  1. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
  2. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  3. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  4. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  5. Hosting Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991
  6. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
1980 - 1989
  1. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  2. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  3. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
  4. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  7. Formula One Entry / 1983Formula One Entry / 1983
  8. Development of Honda's Franz System Car / 1982Development of Honda's Franz System Car / 1982
  9. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  10. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  11. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  12. City / 1981City / 1981
  13. The F200 The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
  14. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
1970 - 1979
  1. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  2. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  3. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  4. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  5. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  6. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
  7. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  8. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  9. Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973
  10. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  11. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  12. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
  13. Launching the Office of Safe Driving Promotional Operations / 1970Launching the Office of Safe Driving Promotional Operations / 1970
1960 - 1969
  1. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  2. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  5. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  6. Formula One Entry / 1964Formula One Entry / 1964
  7. Kyoto: Celebrating the Company's 15th Anniversary / 1963Kyoto: Celebrating the Company's 15th Anniversary / 1963
  8. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  9. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  10. Employing the Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
  11. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
1950 - 1959
  1. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959

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