Alex Gregory, former chairman and CEO of YKK Corp. of America and the former chairman and chairman emeritus of the Japan America Society of Georgia, is to be honored as a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Japanese government.
The government announced Mr. Gregory as a recipient of the 2018 Autumn Imperial Decorations on Nov. 3. A formal presentation is to be held in December at the Atlanta residence of Japan’s consul general for the Southeast, Takashi Shinozuka.
Mr. Gregory became the first non-Japanese group officer of the YKK Corp. in Japan in 2004. From 2008 to 2010, he also served on YKK Corp.’s board of directors in Japan as the company’s first non-Japanese director. In 2011, he was named chairman of the YKK Corp. of America’s board of directors.
He joined YKK in 1973 as the manager of the Weaving Department and was the first American YKK employee in Georgia. In 2001 he was named president of YKK Corp. of America.
In its announcement, Mr. Gregory was cited for having served “as a bridge between the Japanese and American communities in the metro Atlanta area” for the past four decades.
He also was praised as one of the founders of Yamakiko-kai, a sub-committee of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia devoted to improving cross-cultural awareness between Japanese and Americans. And he was praised for having served as a long-time member of the Japan-America Society of Georgia where he was chairman from 2006-2007, and as chairman emeritus of the society today.
Additionally, he was cited for being instrumental in the growth and success of JapanFest in Atlanta, now the largest Japanese festival in the Southeast, and served as co-chair of the festival from 1996 to 2001. He is a life member of the board of councillors of the Carter Center, where YKK funds a Japanese intern through the Yoshida Scholarship Foundation.
Earlier this year, Mr. Gregory was inducted into Gergia Tech’s Engineering Hall of Fame and received the Leadership Character Award in the CEO/President Managing Partner-Large Company category from the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and Turknett Leadership Group.
Among other citations Mr. Gregory has received over the years include the inaugural Gov. George Busbee Award in 2004 by then Gov. Sonny Perdue, In 2012, he received the Mike Mansfield Award from the Japan-America Society of Georgia. In 2015, he was one of only 28 Americans to be awarded the foreign minister of Japan’s commendation.
The government also underscored his passion for helping students and praised his mentoring of more than 50 students at the Georgia Institute of Technology since 2001 and since 2004 at Georgia College.
According to the government’s announcement, “these students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities and has communicated his love for studying the Japanese language and culture ad encouraged them to study abroad and/or take advantage of working opportunities abroad.”
“No one prospers without rendering benefit to others,” Mr Gregory is quoted in an accompanying news release citing the philosophy of YKK’s founder, Tadao Yoshida. This philosophy, he added, “has been enhanced under the leadership of Mr. Yoshida’s son, Tadahiro Yoshida, for the past quarter-century. It has been my great honor and pleasure to work with a tremendous team of dedicated colleagues from Canada to Colombia and to witness their amazing efforts to build good relations in their communities. This award is for them.”
Decorations are bestowed upon individuals in recognition of their service to the nation or public including besides ceremonial decorations presented to state guests upon arrival, or to diplomats leaving office decorations conferred “on foreigners who have made notable contributions to enhance bilateral relations.”
For a Global Atlanta article about Jim Reed, YKK Corp. of America’s president, click here.