Sony UK TEC colleagues and friends have paid tribute to its inspirational founder, Mr. Tetsuo Tokita OBE, following his passing on 7th October 2020.
Mr Tokita was the founding Managing Director for Sony in Wales, establishing the Bridgend factory in 1974. He played a crucial role in rooting Sony UK TEC not only as a major employer in South Wales, but also as an outstanding supporter of community initiatives.
Mr Tokita brought to Sony UK TEC a commitment to the importance of staff relations, placing particular emphasis on the nurturing of team spirit and value, which is ever present in the factory to this day.
As a result of Mr Tokita’s efforts, many thousands of employees and local businesses have benefited from job and supply chain opportunities, resulting in Sony becoming the exemplar of manufacturing companies in South Wales.
When it was announced that Sony UK TEC was to be established in Bridgend back in the 1970s, there was some speculation on how the Japanese management and staff would settle into the South Wales community. Mr Tokita was instrumental in ensuring that his Japanese colleagues immersed themselves in local culture and joined in with local activities.
Mr Tokita himself was a great fan of Welsh rugby and rarely missed a match at Cardiff Arms Park. He also established the Wales Japan Club for families and was pivotal in the setting up of the Japanese Language Teaching Centre in Cardiff.
Mr Tokita excelled in encouraging other Japanese companies to settle in South Wales. It is remarked by many of his past colleagues that “no-one came to Wales without speaking to Tetsuo first”.
Mr Tokita’s commitment to Wales is regarded as extremely special throughout the world of Sony, and as a result he was personally appointed by her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace as Officer of The Most Excellent Order of The British Empire in recognition of his Outstanding Service to Industry and the Community in Wales.
Fondly remembering his predecessor, current Sony UK TEC Managing Director Steve Dalton reflects, “When I started at Sony Bridgend in 1983 as a young graduate, Tokita san was the head of the factory and regularly walked around chatting with people, always interested and encouraging you in your work.
“After his return to Japan, in 1986 he invited me to the factory he was running at the time, where I received the warmest of welcomes. Our relationship withstood the test of time with Tokita san visiting the Pencoed factory years later after his retirement with a group of retired professionals from Japan. I have also personally had the pleasure of working with his son, Takeshi Tak Tokita on future technology within the manufacturing environment.
“Tokita san was an immense character and hugely influential, he will be forever remembered so fondly in Wales.”
In a similar vein, Sony UK TEC Director Gerald Kelly also fondly remembers working with Mr Tokita: “I started working at Sony UK TEC in September 1981. I was a young man then and my first role was as an Engineering Technician. At the induction during week one, I was introduced to Tokita san, my first impression was “what a nice guy”. He was a real gentleman and much to my amazement he was interested in me as a person, as an individual. I honestly couldn’t believe it, the Managing Director was speaking to me as if we were friends. I had worked for 2 other multinationals and several other smaller companies before joining Sony and never experienced anything like this. It was this experience that told me Sony was different.
“In the years that followed the facility grew year on year under his strong leadership, Tokita san had laid the foundations for the rest of us to build upon and his legacy will continue for many years to come.”
Mr. John Bevan OBE of JB Consultancy is a former Sony team member and had a longstanding relationship with Mr Tokita, passionately believing Sony UK Tec’s success is a direct result of Mr Tokita’s efforts.
He said “Tokita san was one of the very first Senior Managers who worked with us in the early 70’s. His spirit created an excellent team both inside and outside of the company. He took on any task, always showing that no job was beneath him.
“He made a huge effort both inside and outside of the factory, developing links with the local community and government which still exist to this day. He gave us the start we needed to be successful the rest is history.”