YKK Stories

2018-09-17 Issue 68 Fundamental Behavior 13 Be A Team Player

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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Conventional wisdom tells us that 1+1=2. When it comes to teamwork, combined efforts are exponential, more like 2² or 4. Let me share with you a story that demonstrates the power of what a modest size team of people can do in just a couple of minutes…

In the small town of Bruno outside of Omaha, Nebraska, farmer Herman Ostry bought a farm with a barn near a creek on low ground. The barn would flood whenever it rained hard, and even when not flooded the ground would be muddy, rendering it difficult to use much of the time. He got a quote from a local moving company to move the barn 115 feet to higher ground, but the bid was unaffordable.

At supper, Herman joked to his family, “I’ll bet if we had enough people we could pick up that barn and carry it to higher ground.”

Herman’s son, Mike, however, took the idea seriously. He counted the boards and timber and estimated the barn’s weight at 16,640 pounds. Then he began welding a grid of steel tubing – bringing the total weight to almost ten tons. Mike’s system provided a handhold for 344 people, which meant that each person would be lifting about 55 pounds.

When word of the plan got out into the community, it was met by some with skepticism and others with a willingness to help. Skeptics feared that the barn might fall apart, not all of the people would lift their weight, or move in the same direction.

On July 30, 1988, local TV cameramen were on hand, along with 4,000 spectators.

The 344 volunteers lifted in unison. The crowd then applauded as they moved the barn 115 feet to higher ground in three minutes.

Industry leaders are created and maintained by those organizations that use teamwork to harness the exponential power of many resources simultaneously working toward the same goal. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t marvel at the amount of people and machinery deployed to make our products at YKK. I challenge us all to continue to look for ways to help one another to meet our goals. No matter if it is across the aisle, into the next department, building or country. Over the long run, none of us succeeds if we all don’t.


Allen Bogenschutz
Vice President – Risk Management
YKK Corporation of America