July 31, 2020, 11:08 a.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 498 views)
Konosuke Matsushita was born on November 27, 1894, in Wasamura, a farming village that is now part of Wakayama City. His father was a small landowner and Konosuke was the youngest child, but due to misfortune, the family was forced to leave their village and move to the city in search of work.
To help support the family, Konosuke was apprenticed to a hibachi (charcoal brazier) store in Osaka at the age of nine years& then worked in a small bicycle shop for five years.
Although Konosuke thought of leaving his apprenticeship for a job that would allow him to take night classes and complete his education, his father convinced him to stay at the bicycle shop, saying, "The skills you are learning will ensure your future. Succeed as an entrepreneur, and you can hire people who have an education."
Around this time, streetcars were beginning to appear on the main streets of Osaka, and Konosuke's instincts told him that electricity would be the game-changer. He applied and got a job at the Osaka Electric Light Company at the age of fifteen years.
He worked with enthusiasm, learning new skills round the clock but contracted pneumonia due to the long working hours.
In prewar Japan, arranged marriages were the norm, and, in the spring of 1915, at age 20, Konosuke's sister introduced him to her friend, Mumeno. Within a few months, the two were married, and Konosuke was shouldering the responsibility of a new household.
Konosuke's career continued to advance at the Osaka Electric Light Company as he was quickly promoted to higher-paying positions, until, at the age of 22,dissatisfied by his job's lack of challenge, Konosuke's kept thinking of how to manufacture the "improved socket design" he had suggested to his supervisor.
Remembering his father's advice about the advantages of being an entrepreneur, he left the security of his well-paid job on June 15, 1917, to set up his own small manufacturing company.
Konosuke's savings totaled less than 100 yen, scarcely enough for basic tools and supplies - However, undaunted by his meager resources, he set up a shop in his tiny dirt-floored tenement with two co-workers from Osaka Electric Light Company and Mumeno's youngest brother, Toshio.
Sales of the socket were poor, and by the end of 1917, Konosuke's former co-workers pulled out, leaving only Konosuke, Mumeno, and Toshio leading months of hand-to-mouth survival.
On the brink of bankruptcy, the company was saved by an unexpected order for a thousand insulator plates for electric fans.
With business picking up Konosuke rented a two-story home and launched Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works that was to become Panasonic.
With this larger workshop on the ground floor, Konosuke was able to expand his production to include an innovative attachment plug and a two-way socket, both of which he designed himself.
These new products proved immensely popular, earning the company a reputation for high quality at low prices. By 1922, Konosuke had to build a new factory and office to house his growing business.
At that time, electrical gadgets were very expensive & considered luxury items but konosuke developed various gadgets that were of good quality and affordable.
In 1929, Konosuke created the Basic Management Objective and Company Creed to guide Panasonic’s growth. Commenting on the future of the company, he said, “ Our business is something entrusted to us by society. Therefore, we are duty-bound to manage and develop the company in an upstanding manner, contributing to the development of society and the improvement of people’s lives.”
The battery-powered bicycle lamp is one of the early successful product which drove the sales. In 1932, when the Company’s sales dropped, Matsushita truly proved his leadership and management skills. He cut the production in half without laying off any employees. He said, “We’ll halve production not by laying off workers but having them work only half days. We will continue to pay the same wages they are getting now, but there will be no holidays. All employees should do their best to sell inventory.”One of Konosuke's famous quote is "No matter how deep a study you make. What you have to rely on is your intuition and when it comes down to it, you don't know what's going to happen until you do it. When it rains, you put up an umbrella."
In 1935, the Company, bearing in mind its various businesses, was incorporated as Matsushita Electric Industrial Company Limited.
Konosuke Matsushita passed away in 1989, but his legacy continues even today.
The 101 year old Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., which changed its name to Panasonic Corporation in 2008, is a well known global giant in the field of electronics.
An old Japanese proverb goes that even a cold stone can be warmed through if you sit on it for three years. In other words, a patient effort will bring you success if you but persevere.
( pics from internet for illustrative purpose only)