When Honda came calling

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Pictured above are Marysville Journal-Tribune news clippings detailing the events leading up to Honda’s announcement that it would locate a manufacturing facility in Union County 40 years ago. What started as a motorcycle plant quickly blossomed into additional production facilities, shaping the economy of Union and other area counties.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Kevin Behrens)
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40 years ago manufacturer dropped into county’s lap
Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from “Consuming Japan: Popular Culture and the Globalizing of 1980s America” by Andrew C. McKevitt. The author interviewed local residents and used Journal-Tribune photos and articles to tell the story of Honda’s arrival in Marysville and how it changed American production and culture. The book includes multiple excerpts and photos from, as well as citations of, the Journal-Tribune.
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Honda’s arrival in Marysville, road to Pulitzer prize-winning industrial journalist Paul Ingrassia and Joseph B. White, marked the ‘Watershed event that precipitated Detroit crisis and ultimately its revival… It was the Japanese, ironically, who showed that American workers could build quality automobiles, and thus stripped away Detroit’s excuses.’ Ingrassia and White described the scramble in the late 1980s to adopt “Japanese-style” management techniques in the Big Three plants (and their efforts to hire away Executives from Honda) and argued that the U.S. management class’s eager adoption of such styles saved the industry, improving the quality and experience of working for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. While Detroit executives would “relapse” into bad habits a decade later, greedy in the wake of Japanese economic crisis of the 1990s, Honda’s commitment to Ohio grew, and more generally Japan’s transnational presence in the United States, driven by Americans’ insatiable desire for Japanese things, continued to connect local spaces to global flows. It all started in Marysville.

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