More and more American towns that want to attract Japanese companies are realizing that friendship and personal rapport are as important as location, cost, and financial incentives. Much has been said about this by academics and management professionals, but to an increasing number of community leaders, the pragmatism of this friendship philosophy is hitting home.
``All we had to do was blow it,'' said William Bailey, mayor of Seymour, the day before Aisin Seiki was to announce a $15 million auto-parts factory here. ``They sent their top officials to see the place and get a feeling for whether or not they made a mistake. So I decided to take a walk with Mr. Sugimoto.'' Takashi Sugimoto is a managing director of Aisin Seiki and general manager of its international division.
The two men strolled through downtown Seymour, looking at the shops and talking, mostly about their families, their children. The upshot of the conversation? The announcement came the next day.
``We got past being mayor and big industrialist until we were just standing on a street corner being friends,'' Bailey says. ``That sincerity is what we in Seymour have decided to emphasize. We're going to do unto others what we would have done unto ourselves.''