The first week that I started with YKK, I had the opportunity to visit each plant and walk each process. It gave me a great insight into vertical manufacturing. I saw each process, from PPD (yarn manufacturing) and Brass Wire Plant, through final assembly and shipping. It also made me realize the steps each process took to insure the quality of work before it was passed on to the next process. What does quality mean and how can each of us impact quality, not just at work, but in our daily lives as well? Quality, in the words of William A. Foster, “represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”
My father enjoyed his wood workshop as a hobby while I was growing up. As a young boy I was always fascinated with the tools in his shop and what each tool was used for. One thing that I have always remembered from watching him work was his precision in making sure each joint was exactly right, each piece was cut to the correct length, and each piece sanded just so. He impressed on me the saying, “Measure twice, cut once!” This can be applied to everything you do in life. When we put processes in place to make a quality product, we can always make it right the first time.
The year after I started with YKK, I visited my brother who was working in the Netherlands on a 1 year assignment. It was late fall, and I took my sister-in-law shopping for a winter coat. We went through a few stores and finally narrowed our choice to two jackets. The store clerk came over and asked if we needed any help. We explained we had narrowed our choice to these two jackets, and we were trying to decide which to purchase. He took the winter coats and laid them on the counter. He then unzipped the first jacket. He flipped the zipper over and pointed out the YKK zipper. His next comment has been burned into my mind since then. “This is a YKK zipper. This is the best zipper in the world. If it is not YKK, it is not worth it.” Imagine, here I am in the Netherlands, and this clerk in the store points out the quality of the product of the company I work for!
We have choices we make every day. How good a job we do depends entirely on our mindset. What does the box look like when the product leaves the factory? How is it packaged? Do we insist on quality in everything we do? We should not approach quality as a slogan. Quality is a mindset, a drive in ourselves that we put forth the best we have to offer.
Frederik van Assendelft
National Logistics Manager