Made from Scratch
Many companies have fine-sounding philosophies. What makes Honda different?
“They walk the walk,” says Brian Connell, a team manager in the productivity, quality and safety department at the plant in Lincoln, Ala. “At every department, at the start of a shift you’ll see everyone gathered around in a team meeting. We go over performance the day before and ask if anyone is having problems. I’m not used to that.”
Connell joined Honda after working at a nearby tire factory. “It’s like night and day,” he says. “Everyone here is approachable. Before I came here, people told me Honda does business in a different way, and they were right.”
Jim Willman would agree. He’s a training manager at Lincoln, as he was at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, plant, where he started 13 years ago on the assembly line. He recalls that one day, in his first week on the job, he fell behind. “Suddenly, some guy, without saying a word, jumps in and works with me side-by-side until I’m able to catch up. Later, I learned the guy was the plant manager. I thought, ‘This place really is different.’”
Freddie Green, a team coordinator in engine assembly at Lincoln, says he took an initial $5-per-hour pay cut when he left a paper mill in Childersburg, Ala., and joined Honda, adding, “I knew I would make more money over a two-year period and that it was a stable job.”
Green likes Honda’s open-door policy, a far cry from the way he says things worked at his former job. “If I need to talk to the manager, I can go right in to him on the ground level,” he explains. And he likes the methods of Honda’s HR staff members, he says. “They’re more accessible and visible. They’re on the floor, walking around, talking to people.”