Matsushita makes his first visit to the United States
Konosuke Matsushita leaves for U.S. visit.
Shift to a global perspective on management
Japanese industry came out of its severe economic doldrums and burst into renewed activity with the general revival of the economy, and sudden demand brought about by the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950.
In July, Matsushita called a special management policy meeting and announced his plans for the company's reconstruction. At the annual management policy meeting in January 1951, he said that greater specialization would be needed for the company's next period of expansion, and that the company had to change its narrow outlook to a global perspective, considering itself as a global corporate citizen. He asked the employees to start their work for the year with the attitude that the company had just reopened its doors for business. He then left for a three-month tour of the United States to broaden his own perspective, and see how industry operated in the West's most successful economy.
He was surprised by the gap between Japan and the U.S. He saw that his company had much to learn from the American electronics industry. In October, he went to the U.S. again, then on to Europe, returning to Japan in December.
This time he was looking for a partner to form a technical cooperation agreement.
Konosuke Matsushita in New York.
Innovative Product: Agitator-type washing machine
Konosuke Matsushita instructed his employees to develop and market a washing machine, saying that "a washing machine is an important product that frees housewives from the heavy labor of housework." He made this remark after he came back from a study tour of the U.S. market in 1951. And production of the first agitator-type washing machine, the MW-101with a 2.0-kg capacity, featuring a round enameled tank and an on-off switch, started in September.
Targeting monthly sales of 500 units, employees made every effort to sell the washing machines, driving trucks loaded with washing machines through upper-scale residential areas and demonstrating the machines at electrical appliance stores.
Stories regarding difficulties in design and production mention that the design staff relied on foreign periodicals and samples to develop a machine which was difficult to realize. They had to start developing motors, switches, oil seals, and other parts before developing the product, and they had to carry out laborious work setting up quality criteria, because there was no standard unstained cloth that could be used for quality inspections.