After the Big Motor Incident… Store Managers and Plant Managers Reveal the Current Situation and Challenges “Freed from the Founding Family | FRIDAY DIGITAL

After the Big Motor Incident… Store Managers and Plant Managers Reveal the Current Situation and Challenges “Freed from the Founding Family

One year after the "blowing holes in customers' tires" scandal, ITOCHU and others bought the company for 60 billion yen after the unprecedented scandal was revealed, and the new company started operations on May 1.

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Last April, we reported on the “puncturing of a customer’s tire. In the video, detailed instructions were flying around to make it look like a natural puncture.

May 1. This was the “day of reckoning” for Big Motor.

Big Motor announced that it would be acquired by a consortium of companies led by ITOCHU Corporation. The purchase price amounted to 60 billion yen. With a fresh start, the full scope of the new organization came into view.

On April 15, Big Motor President Shinji Izumi, 55, announced the start-up date of the new company in an e-mail to employees. The company will continue to exist as a company that investigates and compensates for insurance fraud claims, etc., up to now. Meanwhile, operations such as sales, purchase, and repair of used cars will be transferred to the new company on May 1.

Perhaps sold to secure funds, the used car inventory, which was 50,000 units at its peak, has been reduced to around 20,000 units at present. The number of employees, which used to be about 6,000, has been reduced to about 4,100. The remaining employees are basically being transferred to the new company. The approximately 250 stores nationwide will also belong to the new company. The company name is also scheduled to be changed, and I hear that store signboards will be replaced one by one starting in May,” said Kumiko Kato, an automotive journalist.

The most important factor for the ITOCHU-centered business alliance in the acquisition was the break with the founding family, including former president Hiroyuki Kaneshige (72) and his son Koichi (35), former vice president of the company. President Izumi has stated on numerous occasions that the company will be reborn as a company that places the highest priority on compliance, but has he really achieved this?

FRIDAY has pursued various allegations over the past 12 issues. We followed up on the “after scoops” to find out where Big Motor is today.

Exactly one year ago, FRIDAY reported on the “customer tire puncture” scandal in its May 5, 2011 issue. It reported that Big Motor had been deliberately puncturing customers’ tires, charging them inflated labor rates, and fraudulently claiming insurance money from non-life insurance companies. A spokesman for ADI, the company that had been subjected to a large amount of fraudulent insurance claims, revealed, “We are not aware of any cases where fraudulent claims have been approved.

A spokesman for Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance, which was found to have made fraudulent claims, said, “We have already filed a claim for the refund of the insurance money and the money has already been returned. We have also stopped accepting new policies. Furthermore, as of November 30, 2011, we terminated our non-life insurance agency agreement with Big Motor.

It appears that the collusion with X, a semi-major auction company that conducts car auctions for dealers, which FRIDAY reported in its September 29 issue last year, has also been resolved. The company is said to have helped illegally raise the winning bid price.

A few days before the article was published, Big Motor’s Product Management Department directly notified Company X to the effect that it would stop raising prices in the future. Since then, we have not raised prices illegally.

Since the riot, the scale of Company X’s auctions has been reduced in line with Big Motor’s declining used car inventory. At the Kanto auction, the largest venue, there were approximately 5,800 vehicles on display at one time last April, but at the latest auction held on April 17, the number had dropped to approximately 3,700 vehicles.

Company X’s auction site exists in the Kanto region. The number of auctioned vehicles continues to decline, although the fraud is said to have been eliminated.

Unchanging “Headquarters Pressure”

There are other changes as well. The excessive quotas that accompanied the ultra-profit-oriented philosophy rooted in the founding family have been drastically revised. In the past, store managers were forced to weed all day under the hot sun as punishment, and some violence was reportedly used as a form of education, but these have been eliminated. A man who works as a manager at a store in western Japan revealed, “The number of customers is much higher than it was before the riots.

The number of customers has decreased to one-tenth of what it was before the riot. We have a target number of customers, but it’s not as intense as the quotas we used to have. The working hours were also changed from 9 to 20 hours to 10 to 19 hours last September. And yet, they guarantee the same level of salary as before.

On the other hand, some things have not changed. In particular, current employees are unanimous in saying that the attitude of the executives working at the head office has not changed. One store manager in charge of a store in the Kanto region laments, “The employees at the head office are all Kaneshige parents.

The employees at headquarters are people who have achieved results under the strict quotas set by Kaneshige and his son. That is why they still think it is natural to achieve results even if they cheat. Even under President Izumi, there were unreasonable profit targets set in the beginning. If we tried to oppose them, we were told, “We don’t listen to your ideas because you don’t have the ability,” or “Let the idiots work with their hands. They didn’t even listen to me. They didn’t think about what was happening on the shop floor.

A plant manager who works at a store in eastern Japan also commented.

I feel pressure from headquarters. I can’t really express my opinion. In the end, unless we change the people at headquarters, we can’t oppose unreasonable orders. It is also impossible to consult with them.”

Those who have been abandoned by Big Motor are keenly aware that the attitude of headquarters will not change. In our September 1 issue last year, this magazine listened to the heartrending cries of those who had been unfairly dismissed. A man who worked in the sales department of a store in Nagano Prefecture was finally dismissed in June of last year because he “didn’t like his attitude.

He said, “I still haven’t heard anything from Big Motor. This is despite the fact that I called the inquiry desk, e-mailed them to complain about the unfair dismissal, and left my contact information. In the end, I guess the head office doesn’t care about the people they dumped. I contacted the Labor Standards Bureau, but they told me it would be difficult to deal with them without a face-to-face meeting. …… Having returned to my hometown after being laid off, it was tough for me to commute to Nagano, so I cried myself to sleep.”

Another woman who worked at a store in the Kanto region also denounced the situation, saying, “Unless the personnel at headquarters are replaced, there will be no real rebirth.

Former Vice President Koichi was feared for his frequent use of demotions. Unable to resist the politics of fear, many of his employees became involved in corruption.
Former President Hiroyuki grew the company to 58 billion yen in annual sales in his lifetime. In recent years, the company has been committed to the supremacy of profits through excessive quotas.
President Izumi is struggling to purge the pus from the founding family, but there are still issues to be addressed in reforming the remaining senior executives at the head office.

The Founding Family’s Responsibility

Before the fateful day of May 1, there was some movement among those who had been leading the fraud. Two of the remaining directors of the “Royal Family,” who together with former vice president Koichi Koichi had created a distorted corporate culture through a series of unjustified demotions, resigned from Big Motor at the end of last year. As reported in the February 23 issue of this magazine, Toshiyuki Kamohara, a former director who played a leading role in the roadside tree cutting issue, was also arrested by Kanagawa Prefectural police on suspicion of destruction of property. The investigation may extend to former vice president Koichi as well.

Meanwhile, there was a new development in the founding family.

The founding family has contributed approximately 10 billion yen toward the establishment of the new organization. Prior to that, they mortgaged their home and vacation home at the end of last year and borrowed 2.5 billion yen from the bank. They will use the funds to repay debts and to respond to a series of lawsuits across the country. It is probably a way for them to atone for their sins,” said a reporter from a national newspaper.

Nevertheless, the founding family still has enormous assets. In addition to their home, which is worth an estimated 6 billion yen, they own a number of cruisers and vacation homes, with the total estimated to be in excess of 8 billion yen.

How do they feel about their responsibility before restarting the business? We pressed the intercom at former president Hiroyuki’s mansion, but received no response. We also visited the luxury condominium said to be the home of former vice president Koichi, but again there was no response.

The severance of relations with the Kaneshige family was the most important item in receiving support from ITOCHU. As long as we have passed ITOCHU’s strict checks, I believe we have severed ties with the founding family. What is important is what we will produce in the future.

The manager of the western Japan store mentioned above who responded to the interview said, “I have no intention of leaving the company. I want to watch with you how Big Motor will change from now on. The true value of Big Motor, which is making a fresh start, will be tested in the future.

Latest assets of the founding family (as of April 24)

Home (Meguro-ku, Tokyo): estimated at 6 billion yen

A mansion in a very prestigious location in Tokyo. It is surrounded by 8-meter-high walls and has a tea ceremony room and a fountain in the grounds. The late Akio Morita, founder of Sony, also resided here.

Villa (Kyoto, Japan)
Estimated at 160 million yen

This villa was purchased in July 2009. The villa itself is not very large, but it is located close to Nanzenji Temple, and the unit price per tsubo (1,000,000 yen) is not less than 1,000,000 yen.

Cruiser, estimated at 200 million yen
Yacht, estimated at 40 million yen

Two of the yachts are moored at the yacht harbor in Atami. There is also a luxurious villa nearby, built on a 560-tsubo plot of land, with an estimated asset value of 500 million yen.

Villa (Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture)
Estimated 1.4 billion yen (total of two buildings)

The two villas stand on a vast site of 2,900 tsubo. The rectangular building seen in the back was completed within the last year. A BBQ stand can be seen in the courtyard.

From “FRIDAY” May 10 and 17, 2024 issue

  • PHOTO Shinji Hasuo (former president Hiroyuki, Izumi president) Shun Kirishima (auction site, home, Karuizawa villa) Takeo Yuzoku (cruiser) Kei Kato (Kyoto villa)

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