YKK Canada’s 50th anniversary celebration took place last month in Montreal, Canada. The event was attended by long-time friends of the company, community leaders and YKK’s leadership team. The celebratory dinner was preceded by the Product Development Center opening and a YKK Canada factory tour.
The event not only helped celebrate the company achievements throughout the years but also to recognize and highlight the work of all the employees. Angie Vitale, Core Values Award Winner, Joe Gilsenan for his contributions over the past 50 years and 40 year employees were among those recognized during the evening.
Watch the video below for more highlights from the event including remarks from Jim Maguire, president of YKK Canada Inc., Alex Gregory, former chairman, CEO and president of YKK Corporation of America, Mr. Alan DeSousa, Mayor of Saint Laurent, Masayuki Sarumaru, chairman of YKK Corporation, and Jim Reed, president of YKK Corporation of America.
Read more about the history of YKK Canada Inc.
Physically, Canada is the second largest country on Earth. A vast and diverse land of lakes, mountains and forests, Canada boasts 3.8 million square miles and a population of 37 million. Anticipating a dynamic market in this huge, untapped region, YKK established a Canadian company in 1968.
Since Montreal was at the heart of the garment center, it was an excellent location for a zipper business. With only ten employees and a small plant on Port Royal East, YKK Canada began serving customers with two styles of aluminum zippers – #3 for apparel and #5 for boots.
What it lacked in inventory, the company made up for in service and value, and sales soon skyrocketed. Relocation to a larger space at Lebeau Boulevard was required.
To meet increasing demand, in 1971 YKK Canada opened branches in Toronto and Winnipeg and placed sales agents as far away as Vancouver. In 1975 sales agents were also placed in Edmonton.
Meanwhile, with an intriguing mix of English and French speaking employees, under the leadership of Japanese executives and engineers, the size, culture, and sophistication of jobs were changing. New zipper products, machines, and services were being added.
The Canadian garment industry was relatively compact, yet style-conscious and competitive. Zipper orders were often for small lots of customer products in a variety of colors and lengths – with quick deliveries essential.
In 1975, YKK Canada purchased land and moved to a new 132,000 square foot facility on St. Laurent’s Thimens Boulevard on the island of Montreal.
This move was strategic, for it gave Canada the necessary space to fully integrate production. Now, instead of assembling zipper parts, YKK Canada became a full-fledge manufacturer. From weaving and dyeing to coiling and sewing, YKK Canada did it all.
During the 1980s, sales agents were placed in Quebec City. By 1989 the Montreal factory had expanded to a whopping 254,000 square feet.
In 1989, the company purchased Canada’s Universal Fasteners Inc. (now YKK USA Snap & Button Products) and its Windsor plant. Like its U.S. counterpart, Canada’s UFI marketed metal notions – buttons, snaps, rivets/burrs, and hooks and eyes.
In 1997, YKK Canada joined the YKK America Group, and in 1999, the fully integrated Montreal plant was expanded to 330M square feet in order to completely absorb the Windsor metal notions operation.
Today’s YKK Canada claims 120 proud employees located across the country. Products include a full offering of metal, coil and plastic zippers, plus hook and loop, plastic buckles, metal snaps and buttons, and webbings.
In the 50 year history of YKK Canada, we have experienced the good, and the somewhat bad times. Over this 50 year span, the Canadian staff has been supported, coached and mentored by 65 dedicated expatriates and their families making YKK, simply the best company to work for.