released on July 2002
Founder of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd.
In the late 1800s, a young man named Sakichi Toyoda was training to be a carpenter like his father before him. Soon, however, his life was headed down a different path. Seeing poverty around him in his home village in Japan, he felt the need to improve society by making a positive contribution. Since many women, including his own mother, wove cloth by hand to supplement their family income, he set out to improve the weaving industry.
By 1894, after many difficult years and continuous improvements, or Kaizen, he had invented a winding machine and opened a company to sell the new device. Two years later, he perfected Japan's first power loom.
Following a major slump in Japan's economy, Sakichi was forced to resign from his company and lost the rights to his machines and factory. Undeterred by the setback, Sakichi pressed forward. In 1924, he and his son, Kiichiro Toyoda, invented a fully automatic loom that surpassed international standards. Two years later, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. was established. It was from this company that the Toyoda family would eventually launch Toyota Motor Corporation.
The step from loom works to automobile manufacturing is not surprising, considering Sakichi's inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge. He was always looking for new opportunities. He felt it was important to be an innovative and creative thinker.
This spirit is alive today in the Toyota Way. The Toyota Way is not a narrow path. We don't put on blinders and only see what Toyota is doing. Success comes from expanding our vision and experiencing the world. Sakichi himself was inspired and expanded his horizons by traveling to other countries. It was during his first trip to the United States and Europe to study the textile industry that he saw and was impressed with the automobile. As Sakichi would say, "Open the window. It's a big world out there!"
Inspiration comes from many places. Things in nature, a small village or another company could spark an idea. We need to have our eyes, our minds and our hearts open to things we interact with every day, so open your window to the world.
Toyoda G-type Automatic Loom (1924)
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