The Story of Polishing 1 The 10 Pioneers
It’s amazing how the more difficult the environment, the more certain people can really show their stuff.
A few decades after our establishment, Honma Golf had become a first-rate golf club manufacturer. Undoubtedly, the young-generation craftsmen helped bring about these prosperous times, as they took on what seemed like impossible challenges.
One day in 1982, 10 new employees arrived at the new Sakata Plant buildings built especially for the polishing and grinding process. In this huge space, there were a number of polishing machines.
“Starting today, you guys will be doing the polishing,” they were told.
By this single directive of our founder, these 10 newbies, who knew nothing about the craft, suddenly became the technicians in charge of the entire polishing process. Our founder strongly felt that the key to attaining the complete satisfaction of our customers was to have 100% control over production.
Accordingly, it was decided that all processes that were originally outsourced were to be shifted in-house one by one. The man put in charge here was Doi, 29 at the time. Doi suddenly found himself overseeing nine new employees who’d just graduated from high school. Doi had just joined the company, and he’d come from the construction industry?an entirely different field! Unbelievably, he’d never even touched a golf club.
In front of the machines sat a box of blackened irons that hadn’t been polished yet.
The 10 new craftsmen newly in charge of polishing were being asked not just to polish the clubs, but to create fine works of art above and beyond the ordinary club.
“We were so nervous. I remember it was like yesterday. It makes me smile now, but back then it wasn’t funny at all,” Doi laughs.
A few people came from the plant where the work had been outsourced, but for just one week! We wrote down every word they said, and by imitating everything that they did we were able to polish even the parts that looked impossible to get at.
After that, we went to their plant for training?again for just one week. The subcontractors got paid depending on the volume they produced, and so naturally the iron heads came out shining faster than we could have imagined. Our group of ten was utterly amazed as they watched from behind.
“It was as if they were taunting us, ‘Can you really do this?’ When it seems that hopeless, normally you’d give up, but we were young and we felt it was really our responsibility to learn all of it.” The 10 headed back to Sakata Plant, where they began practicing with defective iron heads. The polishing machine seemed as big as a vehicle, too cumbersome to polish the slimmer parts of the iron.
When you tried to polish one area, you hit another instead. The new craftsmen even ended up “polishing” their own hands.
They would get holes in their work gloves and the friction gave them blisters. They couldn’t even use bandages because of the gloves they wore, and so they stuck the blisters with pins so that they wouldn’t get in the way. They would polish one head, and then cover it in black magic marker so that they could practice on the same head over and over. Our founder would come to watch, telling them, “This will never do.”
The difference between “golf club” and “work of art” was in these craftsmen’s’ blistered hands.