The department head, Mr. Takano, was in his early 40s, short and spectacled but looked pompous when he walked with his chest thrust.
Mr. Takano had started his career at one of Japan’s leading car manufacturers at its height of prosperity. By the late ’90s, however, the company was mired in debt. They resorted to the alliance with a foreign competitor, which brought a foreign CEO to the pure-bred Japanese company. The new CEO was free of the constraint of Japanese corporate customs, one of which was lifetime employment. Cutting down redundancy in operation led to laying off mid-level employees en masse. Mr. Takano, who had worked in their financial department, left the company before the arrival of the new CEO and secured his new position. Smart and hard-working, he quickly gained the new employer’s confidence and became a corporate officer. Once the mass layoff started at his former company, he grabbed a few of his old peers to join him. These ex-colleagues invited their friends, who then did the same. Before long, the company was full of ex-car manufacturers.
Our CEO appreciated these men (they were all men) because, having worked in an established giant corporation through the bubble economy years, they had valuable skills and knowledge to apply to a 30-year-old company growing as rapidly as the car companies did in the ’70s and ’80s. They were also extremely loyal. Whatever their employer wanted to happen, they made it happen, no matter how absurd his request was or detrimental to the company’s interest – hence, shopping for the fitness gym. Together, they continued a shopping spree, and before the end of my first year, they dipped their paws on a small videogame developer in distress and a toy manufacturer.