Everyday we all use zippers many times albeit we hardly notice it.It is part and parcel of our life style.Yes;I meant the simple device used for closing openings in our clothing,bags...We do not give much attention to that gadget unless it gets stuck or difficult to operate.In those cases also we blame the manufacturers of those clothing or bags than the zipper.Because almost all of us do not know that the zippers are also branded!
Zippers are a big business!
YKK.This three letters might not ring a bell for many.I was one among them until few years back. It is a trade name abbreviation of Yoshida Manufacturing Shareholding Company in Japanese.Zippers are not small but big business.The global market for zippers is estimated to be $11.7 billion now. YKK makes almost half of all zippers in the world-46% to be exact.Spread in 71 countries,558 locations and 111 companies YKK produces enough zippers to wrap around the world 50 times each year!And that looks incredible but true!
Cycle of Goodness....
Tadao Yoshida founder of YKK firmly believed in a business philosophy which he formulated and practiced as early as 1940s!I am of the opinion that it is still valid 100% but at the same time difficult to practice anywhere anytime.Cycle of Goodness that he envisaged says that well treated workers or employees create a better product, a better product benefit customers or clients and a satisfied customer in turn benefit YKK! They did not change the approach to quality and customers even after his death in spite they had to face a lot of challenges including that their factory at Tokyo was burnt down in 1945.Of course YKK was supplying zippers needed for Imperial Japanese armed forces during ww2. I am not sure whether it is at that time YKK invented specially made silent zippers for the soldiers!
Yoshida believed that business belongs to society while a company survives through existence.No one prospers without rendering benefit to others.No wonder that YKK is well respected by the world's apparel industry along with many other fields such as bags and suitcases,back pack or even sleeping bag!
Evolution of zipper...which finished supremacy of buttons
Having said so high of YKK,it also has to be noted that YKK did not have anything to do with invention of of the zipper.It was in 1851 that Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent for a forerunner of a zipper.It seems he was after the sewing machine that he paid little attention to this patent.
it was Whitcomb Judson who improved the gadget further in 1893 to the level of a 'clasp locker'.Interestingly he worked on the product to help a close friend of his who found it difficult to bend to fasten the shoes due to acute back pain!
The modern zipper was designed in 1913 by Gideon Sunback but not the name.Name zipper was developed by BF Goodrich Company.Earlier zippers were used for boots and tobacco pouches until The Universal Fastener Company later renamed as TALON began mass producing zippers in 1930.By end of WW2 TALON was selling around 500 million of zippers in a monopolized market.
YKK comes in and steal the show.....
The roles of Americans and US companies started dwindling as YKK came to picture.It is even rumored that YKK copied products of TALON initially.But soon YKK started using aluminium instead of copper for zippers and other innovative ideas which made the later to penetrate to the monopolized market of TALON. I also remember having read that. It is also rumored that the Japanese copied German auto designs initially but made cheaper, efficient and value-for-money versions of them after WW2!!
Back to YKK.They introduced a lot of innovative patented fastenings such as Beulon,Ziplon,Kensin....Finally TALON had to close down in 1993, though I think they have revived since then.In spite of hundreds of Chinese companies have entered to the scene, YKK continues its dominance. It may be because of their belief in their own Cycle Of Goodness!
A bit of own similar experience in Doha....
In this context , I also remember those few occasions where I myself used to 'sneak in' getting friendly with the watchmen, on holidays in some of the project sites of leading companies in Doha.That was when Al Balagh was a small company in the early nineties!!Of course my aim was to look around to see the 'modus operandi' at sites, quality of their work,levels of safety measures and house keeping adapted!!Hardly anyone knew this and I didn't share this with anyone either because nursing such an idea to learn and observe from the best firms in Doha could have looked to some a bit different than ambitious those days!! For sure my belief in own business mantra- 'excellent quality and timely delivery' also took shape those days !
20 years later Al Balagh Group came up all the way to be awarded as the best national company in 2012 in Qatar, out beating all those leading firms, projects of which I used to 'sneak in', is also part of history!