Lessons in Longevity from an 88-Year-Old Zipper Company - Deepstash
Leading in Product Management

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Being A Leading Company For Decades Isn't Easy

Being A Leading Company For Decades Isn't Easy

Rarely does a company sustain its global industry leadership for more than a few decades, and most that do so are very well-known global brands.

Organizational longevity relates to how well a firm succeeds across different markets over time, irrespective of its original objectives and founders.


242 reads

The YKK Mystery

The YKK Mystery

YKK stands for the Japanese zipper manufacturer Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, which roughly translates to Yoshida Company Limited. YKK, founded in 1934, manufactures and produces approximately 10 billion zippers a year.

It has impressively, and quietly, remained the market leader for zipper sales for many decades, begging the question: What contributes to its success and longevity?


193 reads

Making An Obscure Speciality Item

Zippers are a specialty item that is not marketed directly to consumers yet make up an integral part of the piece of clothing, bags, luggage, or similar items.

While the zipper industry is relatively obscure, it is also large, with annual sales in between $7 and 13 billion (U.S.), with a CAGR between 5.4% and 7.6%.


158 reads

Company Values

Company Values

  • Do not fear failure; experience builds success/creates opportunities for employees.
  • Insist of quality in everything.
  • Build trust, transparency, and respect.
  • Failure is a good thing, and YKK believes that if the goals are set high, failure is inevitable.


155 reads

Commitment to Stakeholders

Commitment to Stakeholders

YKK goes to great lengths to connect with stakeholders on a local, community, and global level.

A key part of stakeholder engagement is giving back to the community and operating in a sustainable fashion.

By virtue of its corporate values, YKK is further ahead than most in integrating sustainability into all aspects of its business.


122 reads

Private Ownership

Private Ownership

  • YKK's financial statements reveal slow but steady growth through the years.
  • Dating back 20 years, the operating profits of the fastening business fluctuated between 11% and 16%.
  • All of its employees participate in the ownership of the company as stockholders and receive dividends.


118 reads

Focus On Quality

  • One of YKK's core values is "insist on quality in everything," and, according to the company's own website, all of its business activities revolve around the assurance of quality.
  • Each YKK production site conducts various quality tests and regularly reports these to the headquarters in Japan.


112 reads

Being Global And Local

Adopting new cultural customs, norms, and traditions means acquiring new cultural knowledge and experiences, and learning and using new languages.

Focusing on local even manifests itself in different operations within one country. YKK successfully integrated its traditional Japanese values with those of the local southern U.S. culture at its plant in Macon, Georgia.


113 reads

Diverse And Low Profile

  • The YKK case illustrates that diversification may be a good business move but it can come with downsides and other risks.
  • Building a highly visible brand is conducive to staying on top or is it better to keep a low profile? The YKK story shows us that being visible to the public and garnering unwanted attention can be a risky thing. It also forces companies to take active political stances.


107 reads



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