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Rags to riches story of Soichiro Honda
Soichiro Honda was born in Japan in 1906 and developed a passion for mechanics as he grew up helping his father who owned a bicycle repair shop in their very small town. At the age of 15, with no formal education, Honda left his family home and moved to Tokyo in pursuit of greater work opportunities.
The rags to riches story of Soichiro Honda begun with an apprenticeship as a car mechanic which he did for 7 years before moving back to his small town to open up his own small garage where he would work on his dream of developing the concept of the piston ring which he then hoped to sell to Toyota.
Once Honda had completed a working sample of his piston rings he excitedly took the design to Toyota – however they were not interested and declared that the design did not meet their high standards. Instead of giving up on his dream, Honda enrolled in a technical school with the singular goal of figuring out why he couldn’t produce the piston rings to the high standard needed by Toyota. Honda went back to the drawing board and after 2 years of redesigning, he won the contract he had dreamed of with Toyota.
Now that he had the contract, Honda needed a factory to produce these piston rings in high volume as they could be used for automobiles, motorcycles and airplanes. However this was at the same time that the Japanese government were gearing up for war – and building materials were in short supply which meant that he could not source the raw materials needed to build the factory.
Instead of giving up, Honda stayed committed to his dream and displayed great flexibility by actually inventing a new concrete making process which allowed him to get the factory built.
Having already jumped through various hoops to get his factory built, Honda was struck with more bad luck as his factory was bombed twice during the war and the steel needed to repair the factory had become very scarce by this stage of the war. Honda got the steel he required to repair the factory by collecting all the used gasoline cans that were thrown away by U.S army troops during the war – and he used them to repair the factory.
But after finally repairing the factory to continue to produce his piston rings, his factory was tragically levelled in a massive earthquake.
Well after the war ended there was a huge gasoline shortage in Japan which resulted in most people having to either walk or ride push bikes everywhere. Given Hondas background as a motor mechanic, he created a small engine that he attached to his own push bike to allow him to get around town faster.
Other people started to notice his motorised bike and wanted one for themselves, and these people began approaching Honda requesting that he build them one also – however the raw materials needed to produce the amount of bikes that many people were demanding was again in short supply.
Honda wrote an inspiring letter to the 18’000 bike store owners in Japan and explained that with their help, he had a plan to rejuvenate the country.5’000 of the shop owners responded to Honda and they collectively raised the capital needed for the creation of one of the early versions of the motorbike scooter.
After the great popularity of these motorised scooters in Japan, Honda began exporting the engines to the United States and Europe. Now history has obviously shown that these early motorised scooters developed into the now hugely successful Honda motor bikes and Honda became one of the biggest players in this market where he built an international manufacturing and distribution corporation for his motorbikes.
Today, the Honda corporation builds cars, motorbikes, boat engines, power generators and even lawn mowers and employs over 10’000 people in the United States and Japan,
Not bad for an uneducated guy from a small town and humble beginnings. The fact that Honda would not give up on his dream despite countless set backs and failures is testament to his fortitude and persistence. I hope you enjoyed the rags to riches story of Soichiro Honda