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YKK product providing shelter for Japanese

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By Tim McCarthy

Local employees of YKK Snap Fastener America say they are proud that a product they developed is making a real difference in peoples’ lives.
Who would have thought that a little plastic fastener named SNAD, originally made for leisure boats, would end up helping victims of the natural disaster in Japan.     
 On March 11, devastating earthquakes and tsunamis followed by a nuclear emergency struck the Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan. More than 30,000 people have been reported killed and/or missing with thousands more injured.  
In the city of Ishinomaki, at the heart of the disaster, a Red Cross hospital was the only medical facility functioning and it was filled to capacity with casualties. Space was needed for triage and supplies so emergency shelters were ordered to be constructed in the entrance ways and parking lots.
The vendor fabricating the shelters needed fasteners to secure the doors and windows on the units and contacted YKK for a product that would withstand the elements and work better than Velcro.  
SNAD (Snap ADhesive attachment) was the answer. The dome-shaped, molded piece of plastic the size of a silver dollar with a high bond backing could be applied to virtually any surface without puncturing the structure.   
The snap fastener was intended for use on boats to secure deck covers, cushions, seats and virtually anything that needed to be battened down.  The advantage of the product was that it could be installed without drilling, which protected the integrity of the boat’s surface and the shape made it easy on the feet when walking the decks.
Now, in an extreme case of product diversification, the SNAD was helping people survive.   
When YKLK officials learned the SNAD was being used in construction of the shelters, after already donating 40 of the units to the hospital, the company purchased 100 shelters from the vendor and donated them to the emergency cause.
 “We are really proud to contribute to the recovery process in Japan,” Rod Helwig, industrial sales representative for the Japanese-owned company said.
“And it was good to send something over there that we developed here. Usually it’s the other way around, they develop things over there (in Japan) and send it over here for us to produce.”
The contributions are also a reflection of the company’s philosophy.  
“This fits with the corporate vision of our founder, Tadao Yoshida,” Greg Pass, director of human resources and safety, said.
 “It’s called the cycle of goodness. No one prospers unless someone benefits.”
According to the YKK website, Yoshida believed a company’s value would be recognized by the benefits it shares with society.  The site also notes the founder strongly believed the fruits of innovative ideas must not be retained by an individual, but instead distributed widely to society.
The founder should be proud.
Recovery from the disaster in Japan is far from over. Gymnasiums are full of people living together in the impacted areas, health complications are massive and long-term living arrangements need to be solved.  And since the disaster area is one of the country’s biggest regions for the fishing, automotive and precision machinery industries, the effects of the tragedies will be felt worldwide for years to come.
“We want to see what else we can do to help,” Pass added.
“And we’ve been talking with folks about what we might do to help in Alabama where the tornadoes struck.”
It’s good to know that a little part made in Lawrenceburg is helping people across the world survive. And for the company that’s been a part of Lawrenceburg since 1955 and is best known for zippers and rivets, it’s good to know they recognize that helping people enjoy life is good, but helping people live is better.