Browse Publications Books B-948

Factory Man B-948

Factory Man is about James Harbour and the epic struggle of the U.S. auto industry to catch up to Japan in quality and productivity. Harbour is a former manufacturing executive who, partly by chance, became the first U.S. expert to study Toyota's operations in Japan. Harbour's consulting firm, Harbour & Associates has gained worldwide recognition for its annual public studies of factory productivity. The Harbour Report is the essential annual scorecard of who is winning the productivity race in the U.S. In 1981, Harbour reported that Toyota could offer a small car for sale in the U.S. at a production cost of $1,500-$1,700 less than the Detroit automakers at that time, a cost advantage of about 30 percent. The impact on Detroit was atomic, and launched the painful, historic effort by the Big Three to catch up, which continues today .

James Harbour's story, blunt and accessible, includes a detailed description of how Detroit went astray, beginning right after World War II. He saw it all firsthand. A Depression child, he started working at Chrysler's Jefferson Avenue assembly plant in 1946 and rose through the ranks, struggling all that time against a system that tolerated inferior products. The story continues to the present day as he explains why Detroit still hasn't quite caught up and how desperate the situation has become.


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