1966: Large Order for Ceramic Substrates From IBM
The "Customer First" Principle
Soon after its founding, Kyocera struggled to market its products as it had no name recognition. Inamori believed that if he could get companies in the U.S. and Europe — which were more technologically advanced than Japan — to acknowledge and endorse Kyocera products, then the Japanese market would also be more receptive. Thus, Inamori worked hard to develop the overseas market.
In the midst of these efforts, Kyocera managed to get an order from IBM for alumina substrates for integrated circuits.
However, the technological requirements for these substrates were extremely difficult to meet, and it was not an easy product for Kyocera to manufacture at the time.
Back then, the norm was for a simple one-page specification sheet to accompany an order, but in this case it was as thick as a book and very detailed. Kyocera didn't even have a machine to measure the accuracy of the prototype.
The company faced this challenge head-on with a strong commitment to meet the customer's expectations, as well as a strong desire not to miss this great opportunity for future growth. After acquiring the necessary equipment to meet these very difficult requirements, Inamori and his employees united as one and worked hard, night and day, to develop a prototype and the accompanying mass production technology. As a result of these efforts, Kyocera was able to deliver a product that everyone initially thought was impossible to make.
This success not only helped increase Kyocera's revenue significantly, but also greatly advanced Kyocera's technical capability, productivity and quality control. Kyocera's credibility also increased after its business relationship with IBM became widely known: big orders from other major companies — overseas and within Japan — started to pour in.
Having put tremendous efforts into satisfying this customer brought a great opportunity to advance Kyocera's technologies and develop its business.