Tadao Yoshida, Founder of YKK, Maker of 50% to 90% of all Zippers

21 01 2010

In 1932, a 24 year old Tadao Yoshida was working for a company producing zippers. While he was impressed by the product, his employer went bankrupt. In 1934 Yoshida founded the company that is today YKK in NihonbashiTokyo.

This company is now the worlds foremost zipper manufacturer, making about 90% of all zippers in over 206 facilities in 52 countries.  In fact, they not only make the zippers, they also make the machines that make the zippers; no word on if they make the machines that make the parts that make up the machines that make the zippers. Their largest factory in Georgia makes over 7 million zippers per day.

In any event, Mr. Yoshida’s company zipped to number one by practicing the “Cycle of Goodness”, as he called it.  Namely, “No one prospers unless he renders benefit to others.”  Using this principle, he endeavored to create the best zippers out there that would hold up over long periods of time in the end product.  This in turn would benefit both the manufacturers who used his zippers and the end customer and because of these things benefit his company with higher repeat and referral sales, thus completing the “Cycle of Goodness.”

A visit to a YKK factory shows just why the competition has been ground down so successfully. The closely guarded machines automatically turn raw materials into zippers of thousands of colors and sizes. Each part is tested mechanically and defective ones are ejected, all without human intervention. Competitors have machines that resemble those made by YKK, but lack the company’s custom-made software and other tricks YKK keeps close to the chest.

YKK has manufacturing facilities in 68 countries. YKK also has the world’s largest zipper manufacturing center located in Macon, Georgia, where they have 900 employees.