Call it foresight or call it serendipity ... you know, one of those fortunate discoveries made by accident. But whatever you call it, the folks at Honda Motor Co. in Marysville, Ohio, are profiting from the results.
Almost 20 years ago, someone came up with the bright idea of filling empty containers from Japan that had been used to deliver parts and materials to Honda's stateside assembly plants with soybeans for export. Over time, the soybean volume soared. Soybean farmers found they got a better price through Honda since Honda wasn't necessarily looking to make a lot of money on this endeavor—it merely wanted to recoup some of the costs of sending empty containers back to Asia.
Today, Honda ranks among the largest U.S. exporters of soybeans. This year, the 189 employees at its small processing plant in Marysville will process 550 bushels of soybeans each hour. The carmaker expects to sell, and export, a record 1 million bushels by year's end.