"Customers come first; then the dealers; and lastly, the maker."

released on November 2002

Shotaro Kamiya,
first President of Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd.

Even before the launch of Toyota's first mass-produced passenger car, Kiichiro Toyoda recognized the importance of marketing in building a successful business. It was around this time that Kiichiro first met Shotaro Kamiya, who was the manager of the Tokyo office of General Motors-Japan. At their first meeting, Kiichiro passionately expressed his commitment to building a great automobile industry in Japan and immediately invited Kamiya to join his company, saying that he would leave all sales and marketing operations to Kamiya. Kamiya was impressed by Kiichiro's personality and the scope of his business plan. Without hesitation, Kamiya accepted Kiichiro's offer. He entered Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. in October 1935 and began sales and marketing operations with three staff members in a corner of the company plant.

Kamiya's marketing focus was to set up a mass sales network through a nation-wide dealer system. He contended that it was essential for those who sold the automobiles to have the trust of the local people, as well as a thorough knowledge of the locality. "My experience has taught me that when setting up a new dealership, it is important to choose experienced people whenever possible, because such individuals know how difficult it is to sell automobiles and because they have the knowledge of the vehicles themselves."

In November 1935, Hinode Motors of Nagoya city, Japan became the first dealer. The general manager had been a close friend of Kamiya from his days at GM (General Motors)-Japan and was moved by the challenging spirit of Toyoda and Kamiya's policy of doing business. New dealerships were gradually set up throughout the country, and, by the end of 1938, the network had grown to one dealer in each prefecture of Japan. Kamiya reaffirmed Toyota's commitment to the customer and to the dealer, with a pledge which remains true today — "The priority in receiving benefits from automobile sales should be in the order of the customer, then the car dealer and, lastly, the maker. This attitude is the best approach in winning the trust of customers and dealers and ultimately brings growth to the manufacturer."

It is the dealers and distributors that strengthen the relationship between the customer and the manufacturer. They make customers aware of all that Toyota has to offer, and they bring customers' needs and desires to factory floors and to boardrooms. With the help of experienced people, we can work toward the vision of becoming the most successful and respected car company in each market around the world.


Dealer candidates, 1936

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