YKK President Appears on USGlass Podcast; and Company Focuses on Sustainability

August 31st, 2021 by Editor

Leadership and sustainability: two very different, but important philosophies, are top priorities for many companies. At YKK AP America Inc., manufacturer of residential and commercial window systems, the organization focuses on both.

This month’s USGlass podcast features Oliver Stepe, YKK president, who discusses, among other things, being a kid who grew up on Long Island and running a company based in Japan with its main plant in rural Georgia. How did that shape him as a leader? Listen to the podcast to find out.

Also discover how focusing on sustainable practices is an important part of the company’s culture, and why it was important to appoint a chief sustainability officer.

Tomohisa Kato

As a  USGlass magazine Green Award winner, the company reported it was the first facade manufacturer to voluntarily provide third-party-certified Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for its portfolio five years ago, and its commercial manufacturing plant is ISO 14001 certified. Now, in a green initiative that ties back to the philosophy of YKK founder Tadao Yoshida, the company created the first-ever chief sustainability officer. Tomohisa Kato will fill this position.

“We take great pride in YKK’s philosophy the ‘Cycle of Goodness,’ which states, ‘No one prospers without rendering benefit to others,’” says Stepe. “As a company, we continuously seek to grow upon this foundation by building a better society through architectural products. By appointing Tomohisa as our first chief sustainability officer, we are taking another step toward fulfilling this vision.”

Kato has served as vice president of corporate development since 2019. He now oversees the company’s sustainability strategy, focusing on advancing efforts in North America to promote sustainability in business and corporate practice. He will also lead YKK AP’s materiality-based strategic planning processes to enhance the company’s growth and society.

“I am honored to step into this position where I will address the critical challenges of protecting our environment through our architectural products and conserving natural resources through our business practices,” Kato says. “The environmental issues we face are common to all of us, and I am proud to contribute my time and energy toward securing a more sustainable future.”

Mike Turner, senior vice president of sales and marketing at YKK AP America, says this move is part of a mission that extends beyond products.

“One of our purposes is to continue to create architectural products through an artistic and inquisitive mindset, and doing it in a way that’s sustainable and doesn’t impact our environment,” Turner says. “It’s that additional element of the cycle that we continue to try to address. We have to provide value to our clients so that they can generate revenue. We need to generate revenue to do that, but it’s not just about profit—it’s about giving back.”

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