YKK Stories

Jim Reed, president YKK Corporation of America, shares 5 things to know about YKK

October 7, 2019
Author: YKK
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To celebrate National Manufacturing Day, we asked Jim Reed, president of YKK Corporation of America, to share with us some of the reasons why YKK is such a unique brand.

1. We are driven by innovation.

I recently had the pleasure of accompanying Lee Smith of YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. as he toured Georgia’s Governor Kemp around our facilities. Lee was showing the Governor some of our innovative fastening solutions for the automotive industry. I have listened to these demonstrations in the past and have even led them, but even so, I became very excited and full of pride to hear Lee talk about our innovations.

I have tremendous respect for those on our YKK team who can create these solutions, build machines to make these products, then figure out ways to efficiently and profitably bring those products to the market without defects and at prices that create new value for our customers. I could tell the Governor was also amazed by the innovation YKK brings to its products. We know this is the key to our future, and I am excited about the opportunities we have and the energy with which we can continue to push innovation forward.

“I am excited about the opportunities we have and the energy with which we can continue to push innovation forward.”

2. Sustainability is in our DNA.

YKK has been practicing sustainable production for decades. It is built into how we operate. Our founder, Tadao Yoshida, built that into commitment into our operations when he started the company, and our managers continue to fulfill that mission today.

We have video of Tadao Yoshida’s interviews and speeches and we also have his writings. On several occasions, he speaks and writes about protecting the environment and operating in a sustainable fashion. As a child, he loved the richness of the outdoors, the fresh air and the forests around his hometown of Kurobe. He loved to fish in its cold clear waters.

That love and passion stayed with him as he grew up. To him, it was a simple concept – It is crazy and stupid to destroy the beauty of the world around you, so don’t do it. We won’t, and we will continue to explore ways to improve how we operate to maintain harmony with nature.


3. We are guided by our founder’s Philosophy.

The Business Roundtable is an organization of CEO’s for the top corporations in the US. This August, they declared that a corporation has a higher purpose than generating profits for its shareholders. I am glad they made that statement, and I agree with them. This is not a new concept at YKK, where for the last nine decades we have been guided by the philosophy that no one prospers without rendering benefits to others. In this philosophy lies the core value that the corporation is a member of society, and as a member of society, has a responsibility to protect and help enrich the community in which it operates.

Investing in others in the community naturally generates positive value that flows back to the company (hence, the ‘cycle’ of goodness). Sometimes, we find ourselves in stressful situations that do not have any really clear or ‘best’ answers. In these situations, we should fall back to the founder’s philosophy to help guide us forward on the best path. I have found that when I do that, things tend to work out OK. When I fail to do that, and instead let other drivers shape my response, then things usually do not turn out too good. The harder the situation, the more valuable the Philosophy of the Cycle of Goodness becomes.

4. The safety of our employees always comes first.

We have 25 Fundamental Behaviors. The first one is ‘Do the right thing, always.’ The second one is ‘Be vigilant about safety.’ The critical word in that phrase is ‘vigilant.’ This means we have to continuously scan for and avoid dangers in the workplace. When we let our guard down, when we get too comfortable, when we stop paying attention, then we expose ourselves and our teammates to danger. I am very proud of the work the NCA Region’s Safety Committee members do to make sure we fulfill our obligation to ensure the safety of our employees. These men and women work tirelessly to promote safe work practices. They conduct audits to uncover hidden hazards and they share best practices to make certain all of our operations are operating as safely as possible. The natural tendency with this type of difficult work is to become complacent.

The Safety Committee recently held their annual in-person meeting. I was gratified to see that they were anything but complacent. They remained energized and excited to combat dangers in the workplace. I really appreciate their drive and attitude. We all owe them our thanks for their efforts to eradicate hazards and to help us all fulfill our responsibility to maintain vigilance.

5. We are a global company.

YKK is an organization comprised of over 46,000 people working in over 100 companies in over 70 countries/regions. That makes a truly global company. The size is impressive, but what is really remarkable is that we are all able to operate successfully under one set of guiding principles. That speaks to the universality of the Cycle of Goodness™. Consider for a moment your day yesterday. How many interactions did you have with other people? I bet most of those interactions went well. I also bet there were one or two mis-communications or misunderstandings. Now take your day and multiply it by 46,000. Can you imagine the number of different languages, religions, and cultures that those 46,000+ employees represent? The risk of misunderstandings and mis-communications is extremely high. But, for some reason, YKK continues to grow and prosper. I attribute a lot of that success to the Cycle of Goodness™. There is a universal truth there that can be understood in hundreds of languages, can travel unmolested through dozens of religions, and can navigate countless communities and cultures.

Yes, we are a global company, but we are connected and can function cooperatively because we are all tapped into this universal principle that rings true for people all around the world. That is pretty cool, I think.

Check out our series on YKK’s Global Facilities:

Trend Cafe: https://connect.ykkamericas.com/ykk-connect/a-journey-around-ykk-global-facilities-trend-cafe-a-coru%C3%B1a

Cafe Bonfino: https://connect.ykkamericas.com/ykk-connect/a-journey-around-ykk-global-facilities-caf%C3%A9-bonfino

Fastening Experience® Indonesia: https://connect.ykkamericas.com/ykk-connect/a-journey-around-ykk-global-facilities-fastening-experience-indonesia