While I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I really had a good chance to sit around and stare at my crotch. As a result, I noticed something: two pairs of pants and one pair of shorts that I had with me all had zippers made by the same company, YKK zippers. My work computer is fucked right now and won't load any web pages properly, but I think the website is here. Anyhow, I read a brief paragraph on some other website which says that YKK is in fact, the world's largest zipper company. It's a Japanese company, it was founded in 1934 and that it posts US$2.9 billion in sales anually. The current CEO is the son of the founder and he's worth over $1 billion himself. This is crazy right? I have to admit, somehow I thought it would be even more money, but when I really think about it, that is still so much money -- just think about how many fucking zippers you have to sell to make $2.9 billion every year. I mean, this is wild speculation, but I'd be willing to bet that I could pick-up one zipper from a craft store or something for around 25 cents or less -- that would be the retail price of one individually packaged zipper mind you. Now you know that when Levi's orders their supply of zippers they're paying nothing per unit, maybe a couple of pennies at the most. It seems like one of the more boring businesses I suppose, since you're never really going to innovate the zipper ever again, well somebody might, but I don't suppose YKK is dumping tons of cash into R&D, and then of course, it's just a volume game. But think about it, you get those big contracts, like Levi's or some other pants specialist, or the GAP (editor's note: In addition to Levi's, YKK has the contracts for Nike and Adidas worldwide) or whatever it is, and that's it! All you gotta do is get those zippers made and ship 'em. And think how many zippers you can ship in a small amount of space. A shoebox could probably fit a thousand of them.
I just read this summary of the YKK story which is great and even has a little timeline at the end that gives you milestones in the history of the zipper (did you know the zipper was originally invented as an alternative to shoelaces? Insane right?) I probably should have read it first since it has key information like: YKK controls half of the entire world zipper market. And: Last year they actually posted $4.3 billion in sales as opposed to that figure I mentioned earlier. I've never been much of a researcher, but I sure do find the zipper business fascinating. Or should I say...fasten-ating?...wink!Posted by King at Junio 15, 2004 04:08 PM