Friday, 1 February 2019

NO MORE CARS PLEASE.... MAKE BOMBERS AND TANKS!................................. How US became the largest producer of warfare equipment from 19th position!!

It is estimated that US now accounts for 34% of all global arms sales amounting to more than US$100 billion.World's second largest exporter of weapons is Russia but US is 58% higher than those of Russia!When this news caught my attention, though it has a negative tinge of war and violence, I was curious how this happened.All these developed countries-barring a few like Japan-are making whopping revenue by doing this while developing countries like India remain largest importers!!

From a position of 19th,US came up all the way during the second world war,a position US retained since then to this day.How could US, a democratic country  attain it decades back relatively in a short span to counter the axis of two largest industrial and military giants of the world then - Germany and Japan is interesting to any person with a corporate background.

On 1 January 1942,three weeks after the attack of Pearl Harbour, by an unexpected,unusual Govt decree, American automobile manufactures were asked to stop production and sales of cars, trucks and even auto parts for an indefinite period commencing Feb of the same year.The order  froze even delivery of cars to customers who had previously booked them!US automobile industry, producers of largest number of cars in the world- as high as 3 million in 1941- was transformed completely to turn out plane engines, tanks,bombers and guns within a short span of few weeks!! From 1942-45, for four years only 139 cars were manufactured in US, that too for the Govt purposes only!! Detroit, the automobile city turned overnight to take lead of another role- hub of 'arsenal of democracy'.

United States became United Americans over night...
Until attack on Pearl Harbor took place, Americans were in comfortable position thinking that the venues of actual war are far away places, in other continents.For the same and other reasons there were people who opposed US direct participation in the war-almost 50% of the population.But the shocking,unexpected and devastating attack on Pearl Harbor where 2400 US citizen were killed while 8 battleships and 200 planes destroyed made the change of the minds of the people instantly.United States became United Americans over night.US might have faced a worse situation thereafter only on 11 September 2001.US declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy within 24 hours.

I think it is human nature to behave so collectively.Kerala, my home state had to face unprecedented flooding in August 2018.People of Kerala collectively faced it and came out of the debacle albeit now we are back to our favorite sport- mudslinging and petty politics.

US entering into war had dramatic effect on life of the people.President Roosevelt had to take a lot of hard decisions with the full support of the American congress.Japanese Americans were identified and asked to report to authorities.Later they-including second generation Japs in US and their families- were sent to far off 'relocation centers' set up for the purpose which were nothing more than glorified isolated detention camps.But there was no such treatment for German Americans or Italian Americans!However it may not be fair on my side not to mention that in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan American congress formally apologized for its wartime treatment of these innocent Japanese Americans and paid some token compensation !

Rationing of food, petrol and diesel, clothing,rubber and few other products were introduced among the public.The automobile industry was ordered to change the production line.

US becomes 'arsenal of democracy'....Detroit becomes its center
President Franklin D Roosevelt used a novel but an apt phrase of 'arsenal of democracy' to describe own country as he tried to arouse popular support for sending military aid to nations fighting Axis of powers.Detroit, the biggest car city started playing a pivotal role as all the auto factories started to churn out military warfare products.

General Motors produced 60000 bomber engines for Pratt and Whitney,500000 military trucks, millions of artillery shells and 3800 T17 Stag hound armored scout cars among others during the period of 1942-45.Ford Motors built B24 bombers from their exclusive plant at Willow Run other than plane engines,jeeps, gliders.Each of the  'Battle of Atlantic' fame B 24 Liberator bomber came out of assembly line each hour!! Chrysler built M3 Grant tanks.One will remember that this was successfully used in North Africa against the Germans and Italian forces.They also manufactured Sherman tanks.Packard made aeroplane and marine engines......

The result of such a vigorous move in production was unimaginable.US became the largest producer of warfare equipment in the world from the its standing of 19th in the world in 1939, a position which they hold to this day.

Fiat,Porsche,Volkswagen.... America was not the only country that entrusted auto industry to build warfare weapons.Fiat of Italy also made tanks and aeroplanes. Porsche and Volkswagen had close connections with Third Reich during second world war.But world history is recorded by the winners of wars and conquests mostly, while losers will have hardly a say.....

Photos courtesy:google

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

YKK - Lesser known but better to know SUCCESS STORY !

A very happy new year to all my readers worldwide!Let me open the year on a positive note!

Everyday we all use zippers many times albeit we hardly notice it.It is part and parcel of our life style.Yes;I meant the simple device used for closing openings in our clothing,bags...We do not give much attention to that gadget unless it gets stuck or difficult to operate.In those cases also we blame the manufacturers of those clothing or bags than the zipper.Because almost all of us do not know that the zippers are also branded! 

If you have not noticed any brand on a zipper yet, please do so.Fifty percent chance is that it is branded as YKK especially if the clothing or bag happens to be branded or of good quality.Or to put it in another words, if you have not heard of the brand or sure of the quality of a clothing like a pants,jeans,ladies or children wear the shopkeeper exhibits, may be while shopping in a foreign country on which a zipper comes, all you do is look for YKK brand on the zipper and buy.It will be of good quality if one can believe what the world statistics say....

Here I am sharing the success of YKK branded zippers-originally made in Japan but now globally, including India-which each of the lead brand in the world proudly uses.And about the 'Cycle of Goodness' the philosophical strategy the founder of the company has based its success which can be emulated in any business. A lesser known but better to  know story!

Zippers are a big business!
YKK.This three letters might not ring a bell for many.I was one among them until few years back. It is a trade name abbreviation of Yoshida Manufacturing Shareholding Company in Japanese.Zippers are not small but big business.The global market for zippers is estimated to be $11.7 billion now. YKK makes almost half of all zippers in the world-46% to be exact.Spread in 71 countries,558 locations and 111 companies YKK produces enough zippers to wrap around the world 50 times each year!And that looks incredible but true!

Cycle of Goodness....
Tadao Yoshida founder of YKK firmly believed in a business philosophy which he formulated and practiced as early as 1940s!I am of the opinion that it is still valid 100% but at the same time difficult to practice anywhere anytime.Cycle of Goodness that he envisaged says that well treated workers or employees create a better product, a better product benefit customers or clients and a satisfied customer in turn benefit YKK! They did not change the approach to quality and  customers even after his death in spite they had to face a lot of challenges including that their factory at Tokyo was burnt down in 1945.Of course YKK was supplying zippers needed for Imperial Japanese armed forces during ww2. I am not sure whether it is at that time YKK invented specially made silent zippers for the soldiers!

Yoshida believed that business belongs to society while a company survives through existence.No one prospers without rendering benefit to others.No wonder that YKK is well respected by the world's apparel industry along with many other fields such as bags and suitcases,back pack or even sleeping bag!

Evolution of zipper...which finished supremacy of buttons
Having said so high of YKK,it also has to be noted that YKK did not have anything to do with invention of of the zipper.It was in 1851 that Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent for a forerunner of a zipper.It seems he was after the sewing machine that he paid little attention to this patent.

it was Whitcomb Judson who improved the gadget further in 1893 to the level of a 'clasp locker'.Interestingly he worked on the product to help a close friend of his who found it difficult to bend to fasten the shoes due to acute back pain!

The modern zipper was designed in 1913 by Gideon Sunback but not the name.Name zipper was developed by BF Goodrich Company.Earlier zippers were used for boots and tobacco pouches until The Universal Fastener  Company later renamed as TALON began mass producing zippers in 1930.By end of WW2 TALON was selling around 500 million of zippers in a monopolized market.

YKK comes in and steal the show.....
The roles of Americans and US companies started dwindling as YKK came to picture.It is even rumored that YKK copied products of TALON initially.But soon  YKK started using aluminium instead of copper for zippers and other innovative ideas which made the later to penetrate to the monopolized market of TALON. I also remember having read that. It is also rumored that the Japanese copied German auto designs initially but made cheaper, efficient and value-for-money versions of them after WW2!!

Back to YKK.They introduced a lot of innovative patented fastenings such as Beulon,Ziplon,Kensin....Finally TALON had to close down in 1993, though I think they have revived since then.In spite of hundreds of Chinese companies have entered to the scene, YKK continues its dominance. It may be because of their belief in their own Cycle Of Goodness!

A bit of own similar experience in Doha....
In this context , I also remember those few occasions where I myself used to 'sneak in' getting friendly with the watchmen, on holidays in some of the project sites of leading companies in Doha.That was when Al Balagh was a small company in the early nineties!!Of course my aim was to look around to see the 'modus operandi' at sites, quality of their work,levels of safety measures and house keeping adapted!!Hardly anyone knew this and I didn't share this with anyone either because nursing  such an idea to learn and observe from the best firms in Doha could have looked to some a bit different than ambitious those days!! For sure my belief in own business mantra- 'excellent quality and timely delivery' also took shape those days !

20 years later Al Balagh Group came up all the way to be awarded as the best national company in 2012 in Qatar, out beating all those leading  firms, projects of which I used to 'sneak in', is also part of history!

photo:courtesy google