Osamu Suzuki (left) with Narendra Modi
|Born||30 January 1930
|Parents||Toshiki S. Matsuda
Middle Cross with the Star Order of Merit
|Official web page of Suzuki Motor Corporation|
Osamu Suzuki is the Japanese Chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation. The Government of India honored him in 2007 with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, for his services to the Indian motor industry.
Osamu Matsuda was born in Gero, a Japanese city on the banks of River Hida, to Toshiki S. Matsuda and Shunzo, on 30 January 1930. After graduating from the Chuo University in 1953, Osamu started his career as a loan officer in a local bank. His life took a turn when he married Shoko Suzuki, the grand daughter of the patriarch of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Michio Suzuki. As Suzuki family did not have a male heir, Osamu was married into the family, and following the Japanese custom, Osamu took up the family name of Suzuki, to become Osuma Suzuki. He is the fourth adopted son to run the company.
Osamu Suzuki joined Suzuki Motor Corporation in 1958, worked through various positions including junior management posts and rose to the rank of the Director, in 1963. He became the Junior Managing Director in 1967 and was promoted to the post of the Senior Managing Director, in 1972. In 1978, Osamu became the President and the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation and, in 2000, he stepped down from the post of the CEO to take up the Chairmanship of the Suzuki Motor Corporation.
With more than three decades as the head of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Osamu Suzuki is reported to be one of the longest serving Chief Executive Officers in global auto industry. Recently, concerns are afloat regarding the successor to Osamu Suzuki, which started taking rounds since the death of Hirotaka Ono, Osamu's son in law, who was bring groomed for the take over. Hirotaka Ono died in 2007, at the age of 52, succumbing to pancreatic cancer.
Osamu Suzuki is credited to have transformed Suzuki Corporation into one of the largest small car manufacturers in the world. Instead of taking the major automakers head-on, Osamu expanded the company by finding new markets for its small cars, a strategy, often termed as marketing by diplomacy. He traveled around the globe to find prospective markets for his low priced cars and used diplomacy to penetrate them by forging new alliances.
The market run of Suzuki started in the late sixties when they started setting up satellite manufacturing units abroad. The first of such plants was in Thailand in 1967 which was followed by another one in Indonesia, in 1974. The next year saw Suzuki's entry into the Philippines. In 1980, Suzuki started a plant in Australia and another one in Pakistan, in 1982. He was also successful in forming an alliance with General Motors, which gained Suzuki Corporation, an entry into the European market.
One of the most notable achievements of Osamu Suzuki is his entry into the Indian market in the early eighties. In 1982, Suzuki formed a partnership with the Government of India to launch Maruti Udyog Limited and transformed the market which, until then, was dominated by old fashioned automobiles which ran on outdated technology. In the next decade, the factory turned into the hub of Suzuki manufacturing for the Indian subcontinent and East European markets, producing around 200,000 units a year.
Suzuki entered the New Zealand market in 1984 and five years later, in 1989, extended its reach to Canada while maintaining the service to the markets of Nepal and Bangladesh through its Indian manufacturing unit, to take the total production to 10 million units. By 1993, Suzuki was selling 3 out of 4 and 2 out of 3 cars sold in India and Pakistan respectively and was selling more cars than any other Japanese manufacturer. The nineties also saw Suzuki entering the Asian markets of Korea and Vietnam as well as Egypt and Hungary.
Brisk overseas expansion tailored by Osamu Suzuki made the company grow to such levels that by the start of the 21st century, it had 60 plants in 31 countries and with a sales reach in 190 countries. It even experienced a one year growth of 33.7 per cent in 2003 with the sales turn over reaching US$16.8157 billion. The next year saw Suzuki becoming the largest small car manufacturer in Japan, The two wheeler division, the third behind Honda and Yamaha and the outboard engine division making rapid strides.
Osamu Suzuki built the Suzuki empire, in a conservative way, by looking across the globe for prospective buyers and by cutting costs sharply. He is stated to be concerned about wasteful spending and always on the look-out for ways to save costs. It is reported that once, during a routine factory inspection, he cited 215 cases of wasteful expenditure such as removing 1900 light bulbs to save US$40,000 in electricity costs, asking the executives to take split trip railway tickets, rather than direct fare tickets, thereby saving US$2 per ticket and changing the color of the factory floor to save paint.
During his reign as the Chief Executive Officer, Suzuki Corporation was transformed into a global conglomerate. He was successful in spreading the Suzuki message in 190 countries where the auto giant is having significant presence. He had the vision to avoid a direct fight with the other global auto manufacturers who were competing with each other using cutting edge technology. Instead, he looked out for unexplored markets with small but modern cars which changed the automobile trends in the countries he entered. In India, for example, he introduced small modern cars when the market was dominated by old fashioned, outdated cars, there by, reportedly, revolutionizing the auto industry.
Osamu Suzuki's fiscal prudence is reported to be one of the reasons behind the rise of Suzuki Motor Corporation to the status of an auto giant by selling small low priced cars, still making a profit.
Awards and recognitions
- Padma Bhushan - Government of India - 2007
- Sitara-e-Pakistan - Government of Pakistan - 1984
- Middle Cross with the Star Order of Merit - Republic of Hungary - 2004
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