DENSO History Stories
December 2024 will mark DENSO's 75th anniversary.
Leading up to and after the milestone, we are sharing stories from every corner of the company that highlight the impact our team members, products and culture have had on society over the last 75 years.
This rich legacy is a reminder of how our teams continually strive to contribute to a better world, no matter the challenge, and inspires us to carry it on well into the future.
A Mission in Motion: DENSO in North America
As a small but industrious team of DENSO employees prepared to set up shop in the United States in the mid-1960s, a gregarious American businessman was knocking on DENSO’s door in Japan seeking a starter for his U.S.-manufactured outboard motor.
Norm Owen, from the McCulloch Co., had seen a magazine story about a button-controlled starter and surprised DENSO’s Tokyo office with a visit to learn more. DENSO leadership, recognizing the sharp knock of opportunity, soon dispatched Akira “Andy” Kataoka, who had helped design the part, to Los Angeles to manage the McCulloch business and begin building business relationships.
Our First Years – How DENSO Started in North America
By all accounts, Akira “Andy” Kataoka was “all over the map” when he first came to the United States. But DENSO’s first North American employee wasn’t wandering aimlessly or indiscriminate in his destinations, as the idiom suggests.
Instead, he carefully plotted and planned across the country on a Greyhound bus with a suitcase full of starter generators and the bold dream of establishing DENSO in the American automotive market.