You have probably seen the initials YKK in some of your zippers. But, have you wondered about the meaning of those initials is? So in this article, you will find this out and learn about the world’s largest zipper manufacturer here and how the company developed over the years.
The YKK Group and Its Meaning
YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha that translates into Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation in English. It is a Japanese manufacturing company founded by Tadao Yoshida in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, in 1934. They are primarily known as the largest zipper manufacturer in the world.
Today, YKK is already a Japanese Group of Manufacturing Companies headed by Tadahiro Yoshida and Hiroaki Otani, located in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Aside from zippers, they also manufacture other fastening products, architectural, plastic products, and some industrial pieces of machinery.
The Beginning of YKK
Before becoming YKK, Tadao Yoshida initially started a store specializing in marketing fastening products and operated it as San-es Shokai before World War 2 began in 1934. Then renamed it to Yoshida Kogyosho in February 1938. There would be another significant corporate event in 1939; however, World War 2 is coming fast. So, Yoshida decided to postpone the reorganization of the company to become a limited corporation in 1942.
Beginning of Mass Production
After World War 2, the company registered its trademark “YKK” in 1946. This is going to be engraved on their products for labeling or identifying marks.
Then Yoshida noticed that since they were producing zippers by hand, they had inferior quality compared to other zipper manufacturers in other countries. So they sought technologies in other countries that could help them create better quality zippers. This made them purchase a particular chain machine in the United States that allowed the automation of the zipper-making procedure in 1950.
This was the start of mass-producing the YKK zippers nationwide and eventually outside Japan.
Company Expansion of YKK
In the following year, YKK moved its main office to Chuo, Tokyo, and placed its new manufacturing plant in Kurobe, Toyama, in 1955. However, their headquarters moved again to a different location in Tokyo. And this time, they relocated to Taito, Tokyo, in 1958. During this year, YKK made a significant innovation of their products, introducing a concealed zipper. This zipper has the same function as a regular zipper, but its teeth are hidden.
One year after that, YKK made a bold move to go out of its national boundaries and opened its first overseas office in New Zealand. In 1960, YKK also opened its first United States office in New York City. Today, YKK is the top supplier of zippers and other fastening products, including snaps and buttons in the United States.
Diversifying the Products and Services
At the start of 1961, YKK began diversifying its products. Some of them are fastening related products, while others are business ventures to develop the company.
- Standard Metal Zipper. This is the regular zipper produced.
- Ever Bright. The corrosion-resistant and polished metal zippers.
- Excella. These are similar to Ever Bright zippers but available in three colors, silver, gold, and antique finish.
- Conceal. This is a plastic coil zipper with hidden teeth.
- YZip. An extra strong and durable zipper for jeans was introduced in 1966.
- Quicklon. Sometimes called Cosmolon, this new fastener product was introduced in 1981.
- Vision. This is the standard rugged plastic zipper.
- Snaps and Buttons. This is commonly used as snap fasteners in jeans.
- Aluminum Products for Buildings. YKK’s first non-fastener-related product was released in 1961.
- Real Estate. The first real estate business of YKK in Singapore started in 1984.
- Agricultural. Located in Brazil, the agricultural business of YKK started in 1985.
YKK further expanded its manufacturing plants by constructing three more plants in Utazu, Kagawa in 1972, Sanbongi, Miyagi in 1974, and Yasuhiro, Kumamoto in 1975. They also opened a manufacturing plant overseas in Swaziland and Indonesia to increase the number of production.
The Modern YKK
YKK established a company specializing in the production of snaps and buttons in July 2020. It was named YKK Newmax Company Limited. The company also launched the YKK Fastening Products Sales Incorporated in February 2003 that specializes in sales.