HONDA: Investing in People, Not Just Technology

May 03, 2024

I joined the Honda team in South Carolina in 2001, just four years after Honda began building all-terrain vehicles (ATV) here in 1998. My journey has included a variety of roles, leading to my current responsibility as plant lead at Honda South Carolina Manufacturing. Throughout my career, the key to our success has been what we call The Honda Way – a culture based on teamwork, respect and open communication.

From time to time, there are suggestions from outside the company that there is a better approach. Yet, for more than 25 years, our success has been driven by the efforts of our associates, now some 1,000 strong in Timmonsville.

Respect for People

Prior to joining the Honda team, I had worked at another manufacturing company and it was a real rollercoaster. There were layoffs and the workday was unpredictable, ranging anywhere from four hours to ten hours. I thought maybe this was how all companies operated. I quickly learned how much Honda cares about our team.

When the global recession hit in October 2008, the market for ATVs we produced in South Carolina slowed down. As a result, we had too much inventory, and had to suspend production for three months. But during that time, Honda ensured that all full-time associates had a 40-hour work week available. We used the time to improve our skills through training or by working to clean and repair our equipment. This made us stronger as a team and when production started up, we were ready to roll.

It also was very important to me personally. I was young parent, my family’s sole provider, with small children at home. Seeing how Honda took care of its people was a personal turning point for me.

The Voice of the Associate

We value Honda associates who are working “at the spot” on the production line, especially when they have concerns about a plant issue or production process. We not only want to hear about it, we want their suggestions for how to improve it. We work as one team to find opportunities to make our work processes safer and more ergonomically friendly.

In the early 2000s, we had an issue in the plastics area where associates had to use a screwdriver or other tool to push grommets into the fuel tank of an ATV. This was not an ideal process, so an associate proposed installing a press to push the grommets into place, and we empowered him to work together with our maintenance and engineering group to design the press. They entered this project into the Ergo Cup, an independent North American competition that highlights successful ergonomic solutions and won an award for the best presentation.


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