Shoichiro Toyoda shaped Toyota Motor Co. into a global leader in product quality and engineering. Toyoda was born in 1925 in Nagoya, Japan. He graduated from Nagoya University in 1947 with a degree in engineering and joined Toyota Motor Co. in 1952.
Toyoda earned the respect of his fellow employees by working alongside them in the engineering labs and on the factory floor. He quickly realized the positive correlation between superior assembly methods and product quality, and began training his workers using these principals to demonstrate their impact on customer satisfaction. Toyoda was named a managing director of the company in 1961 as a result of his efforts to improve product quality. He was later promoted to senior managing director and made executive vice president in 1972. Toyoda ultimately led the merger between Toyota Motor Co.’s manufacturing and sales organizations in 1982, and was named the company’s first president.
By the 1980s, Toyota Motor Co. had become a respected and recognized automotive brand around the world. However, it was still primarily an export-based company. Toyoda knew that in order to be a truly global organization, the company needed to manufacture its products in local markets, especially in North America. Toyoda opened discussions with General Motors in 1983 to form a joint manufacturing venture. The new company, New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), built its first automobile in 1984 in Freemont, CA. As of 2021, Toyota operates numerous production facilities across North America as well as 50 other countries. Shoichiro Toyoda also brought a sense of environmental responsibility to Toyota, believing “the environment cannot be ignored, but must be dealt with proactively.”
Toyoda served as chairman of Toyota Motor Co. from 1992 – 1999 as well as chairman of the Business Federation from 1994 – 1998. He was made an honorary chairman of Toyota Motor Co. in 1999. Shoichiro Toyoda helped cement Toyota’s reputation as one of the most recognized and celebrated auto manufacturers in the world.