Suzuki Boat Motors
Osamu Suzuki spent 22 years as president and chief executive officer of Suzuki Motor Corporation, making him one of the auto industry's longest-serving leaders. During this time he turned Suzuki into a global powerhouse by producing rugged, low-cost minicars for the less wealthy but more populated areas of the world, such as India, China, and Eastern Europe. Known as a fiscally conservative hands-on manager, Suzuki involved himself in nearly every aspect of the business and was often seen inspecting the company's plants personally in search of cost-cutting measures. He once directed a factory to use white instead of yellow paint for floor lines, to save a few cents per can. Because of his close involvement, workers viewed him more as a father than a CEO. When Suzuki stepped down as president of the company in 2000, he stayed on as chairman. Friends and family urged him to retire, but Suzuki had other ideas. "I want to die in battle," he told Automotive News (November 6, 2000).