[WORLDKINGS] Top 100 founders of the companies over 100-years and still in business – P27 - Michio Suzuki (Japan): Founder of 111 years of development of Suzuki Motor Corporation (1909)


(WorldKings.org) Michio Suzuki was a Japanese businessman and inventor, known primarily for founding the Suzuki Motor Corporation, as well as several innovations in the design of looms.

Suzuki was born on 18 February 1887 (year 20 of the Meiji era) in the village of Nezuminomura , Shizuoka prefecture, a small village of farmers and cotton-weavers. As the son of cotton farmers, Suzuki worked in the fields from the age of seven or eight. However, Suzuki had always preferred more skilled work, so in 1901, at the age of fourteen, he started a seven-year apprenticeship under the strict guidance of the carpenter Kōtarō Imamura.



When the Russo-Japanese War started in 1904, demand for skilled craftsmen was low, and Imamura was forced, along with his apprentice, to take on the work of maintaining the looms on a factory floor. Although Imamura considered this work unfit for a craftsman of his calibre, Suzuki flourished in this role, and it would provide inspiration for his later innovations.

Suzuki finished his apprenticeship in 1908 at the age of 21, and in the following year Suzuki acquired control of his family's silkworm farm, quickly turning it into a loom manufacturing workshop. Due to his short stature, Suzuki was placed into the secondary reserve category of the Japanese Imperial draft, which allowed him to divert his full attention to the manufacture of looms. His first innovation was a pedal-driven loom which he gave to his mother, who used it to weave cloth ten times faster than she had with her hand loom. Word quickly spread of Suzuki's invention, and he began the mass-manufacture of his new looms, founding the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company in October 1909.



Over the next several years, Suzuki continued to innovate loom technology, often incorporating the advice of the weavers who used his looms. The company went public in 1920, and gained international fame a decade later with the production of a punchcard loom which was exported across Southeast Asia, due to its effectiveness in weaving sarongs. However, this success was short-lived, as Japan's export market shrank rapidly following its secession from the League of Nations in 1933.



Not content with restricting his innovations to the manufacture of looms, Suzuki also began experimenting with automotive technology in the mid-1930s, designing a prototype automobile in 1936. This work was disrupted by the second world war; like many civilian factories, the Suzuki Corporation had their equipment forcefully repurposed to aid in the war effort.

After the war, the Suzuki corporation was one of many corporations that benefitted from the Japanese economic miracle, allowing Suzuki to resume his pre-war work on motorized transportation. In 1952, the Suzuki Corporation launched its first motorized vehicle, the "power-free", a motor-assisted bicycle with a 36cc. two-stroke engine. In 1954, just two years after the first production model of a motorized vehicle, the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company was renamed the Suzuki Motor Corporation.



Suzuki stepped down as president of the Suzuki Motor Corporation in 1957 at the age of 70, becoming a member of the Board of Advisors; his son-in-law Shunzō Suzuki took over as the company's second president. Suzuki died in Hamamatsu city on 27 October 1982.

According to en.wikipedia

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