Business: The Zipper King

One day in 1923, a Japanese school boy named Tadao Yoshida ran across a seemingly bland maxim of Andrew Carnegie's, which he remembers as: "Unless you render profit and goodness to others, you cannot prosper." Inspired by it, Yoshida eventually derived his own rule for running a company: one-third of potential profit should be sacrificed in order to hold down prices, another third should be used to help customers with discounts and rebates, and only the final third should be retained as "pure profit."

Yoshida, now 65, insists that he still follows that formula, and it has made his company, YKK Manufacturing,...

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