YKK Stories

2017-11-20 Issue 24 Fundamental Behavior 23 – Give Back

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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There is not a doubt in my mind that you are the most generous people I have had the privilege of knowing. Your generosity to one another and to the communities in which you live and work is exemplary and truly extraordinary. You have proven that “giving back” is not just about making donations to worthy charities, although that is important, too. You give back with your money and other resources, but also with your time and your energy. We cannot count all the instances in which you have provided support to your colleagues who have experienced tragedies and also to strangers who have suffered from fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

The YKK / YKK AP family excels in giving back as individuals, but where you really excel is in group fundraising activities such as selling hot dogs, guessing the number of sliders in a container, guessing how much money is in a bowl, standing outside Walmart to collect gifts for flood victims, coming together on a Saturday morning to walk the streets near our factories and offices to clean up the litter, or walking along river banks removing tons of scrap metal and other debris. You do these projects for all the right reasons — because they need to be done — and not because you seek credit for your generosity. Your motivations come from your heart.

Thinking about our goal of being good ambassadors (next week’s Fundamental Behavior #24), it is impossible to measure or even imagine the positive impact your giving back is making on all the communities in which YKK and YKK AP are located. You are living the Cycle of Goodness philosophy, “No one prospers without rendering benefit to others.” And when you build houses with Habitat for Humanity, deliver food to shut-ins, or raise money to assist disabled students, you touch the lives of people who are in need throughout our region. You show compassion and love for your fellow human beings.

So why do we take on all these projects? I think we do it because each of us feels an instinctive need to give back. I think it’s an instinctive need among caring people; people who are grateful for their health and well-being. We want to give back, and receiving credit for it is not part of the equation and it definitely is not your motivation. When we participate in these activities, we are fulfilling our personal reasons for giving back, but collectively, we’re fulfilling the Cycle of Goodness. We’re showing our appreciation to our communities and to society in general.

Each year we prepare a video that shows many of the community activities throughout the NCA region in which you are involved. Each activity receives about 5 to 10 seconds of coverage in the video which lasts about 10 minutes. By my calculation, that’s more than 120 significant community activities in the North & Central America region in a one-year period. I would challenge any other company to match your enthusiasm for giving back to the community. You can see the video for fiscal year 2016 (April of 2016 through March of 2017) on our website at http://ykkamericas.com/the-ykk-difference/corporate-social-responsibility/community-service/. I hope you will check it out. You will be proud of our company. And let me assure you that YKK and YKK AP are proud of you.

Let me change gears just a little bit. When I first went to Kurobe in 1973 to study about our weaving equipment, my first job was to clean the oil pans under the machines. Mark Twain famously said that if you eat a live frog first thing every morning, you can go through the rest of the day knowing that the worst is behind you. Well, cleaning those oil pans was a very similar experience. A young Japanese woman was my teacher. I assumed she was very experienced, but it turned out that she was the newest employee in the department. In YKK Japan they frequently task the recently hired employees to teach the brand new employees. We are often asked to “give back” by helping a new colleague to understand not just the “YKK way” of doing things, but also some of the history about how we got to where we are and why we do things in a certain way. We appreciate the knowledge we have received and we are happy to share it with someone else.

As an afterthought, as I am sitting here on a Sunday afternoon with my 98-year old mother, it occurred to me that if we are fortunate enough to have parents, parents-in-law, or grandparents, one way we can give back is by providing them the attention they need (and deserve) in appreciation for everything they did for us when we were young (and maybe when we weren’t so young). Sometimes we find ourselves separated from our family members by geography or bad experiences, but I encourage you to put any bad feelings aside and “give back” to those who gave to you throughout your life.



Alex Gregory
Chairman and CEO
YKK Corporation of America