A conversation some years ago with Kohei Matsuda contrasted with the American way of thinking. A gracious man, he was Chairman of Mazda and also owned the Hiroshima Carp, a major league baseball team.

Typical of Japan, our meeting was quite formal. An American and Japanese flag had been flying side-by-side in front of the Administrative Building. We now sat behind tiny versions on opposite sides of the boardroom table.

Our conversation was of general matters until he told me about the reconstruction of the plant after the Hiroshima bombing. With typical thoroughness, his engineers had adapted the best features of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

We'd finished our obligatory cup of tea. I would now be shown through the factory. He then bowed and excused himself.

After my tour, I asked to see the Chairman briefly to thank him for his hospitality. It was then he reminded me Mazda, at that time, had no distribution in the United States. Could I assist him in this matter?

Selling automobiles did not fall into my field of knowledge or even interest, but I told him I had a friend who would undoubtedly like to consider the matter. He'd been national sales manger of short-lived Kaiser-Frazer. I'd ask him when I got home.

I met with Walter deMartini immediately upon my return. While he had automobile show-rooms on the west coast, these were nothing compared to what I was about to suggest. "Walter, would you like to take on national sales for Mazda?"

The response was instant and surprising. "Who would want to buy a Japanese car?"