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Alum Alex Gregory Receives Honor From Japanese Government
On November 3rd (Japan Time), the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2018 Autumn Imperial Decorations. Among the 135 foreign recipients is Alex Gregory, B.S. TE ’70, conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.
Gregory is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of YKK Corporation of America, one of the world’s largest zipper manufacturer and distributors, as well as one of the first Japanese companies to set up operations in Georgia in 1970.
Gregory joined YKK in 1973 as the Weaving Department Manager and was the first American YKK employee in Georgia. In 2001, he was named President of YKK Corporation of America.
In 2004, Gregory became the first non-Japanese group officer for YKK Corporation in Japan. From 2008 to 2010, he served on YKK Corporation’s Board of Directors in Japan as the company’s first non-Japanese director. In 2011, he was named Chairman of YKK Corporation of America’s Board of Directors.
Throughout the past four decades, Gregory has served as a bridge between the Japanese and American communities in the Metro Atlanta area. In 1993, he was one of the founders of Yamabiko-kai, a sub-committee of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia devoted to improving cross-cultural awareness between Japanese and Americans. He has served as a long time board member of The Japan-America Society of Georgia where he was Chairman from 2006-2007. He serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Society today.
Gregory was 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 Councilors of The Carter Center, where YKK funds a Japanese intern through the Yoshida Scholarship Foundation.
In 2004, Gregory was awarded the inaugural Governor George Busbee Award by then Governor Sonny Perdue, recognizing his extraordinary work to forge the Georgia-Japan relationship. 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.
Gregory is passionate about helping the next generation of young people, and to date has mentored more than 50 students at Georgia Tech (since 2001) and Georgia College (since 2004). These students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities and has communicated his love for studying the Japanese language and culture and encourages them to study abroad and/or take advantage of working opportunities abroad.
It is for these contributions that Alex Gregory is being recognized by the Government of Japan.
Gregory also serves on several non-profit boards, including the Georgia College Foundation Board of Trustees (chair 1999-2001 and 2007-09); Cowan-Turner Center for Servant Leadership at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business; and the Advisory Council of the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia.
He is a Fellow at Georgia Tech’s Institute of Leadership and Entrepreneurship and the inaugural Leader in Residence at Georgia College. In 2016, he became an inaugural inductee into Georgia College’s J. Whitney Bunting College of Business’ Hall of Fame. In 2017, he received the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Admired CEO Award and in 2018 he was inducted into Georgia 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.
Comment from Alex Gregory: "Words cannot express my appreciation or my surprise at the news that I have received this tremendous award from the government of Japan. With sincere humility, I do not feel that the award is for anything I have done as an individual; rather, it is recognition of the achievements of thousands of dedicated YKK employees who have been guided in their actions by the Cycle of Goodness philosophy espoused by YKK's Founder, Tadao Yoshida. This philosophy teaches us that "No one prospers without rendering benefit to others," and 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."
About Conferment of Decorations on Foreign Nationals by the Government of Japan:
Decorations are bestowed upon individuals in recognition of their services to the nation or public. There are two types of decorations that are awarded to foreigners: ceremonial decorations presented to state guests upon arrival, or to diplomats leaving office, and decorations conferred on foreigners who have made notable contributions to enhance bilateral relations. The latter is conferred twice a year on April 29 and November 3, or upon arrival or departure.
About the Consulate General of Japan:
The Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta is an overseas establishment of the Government of Japan. The main function of our office is to protect Japanese nationals and economic interests, provide consular services, and cultural exchange. In addition to the Embassy of Japan, there are 17 Japanese diplomatic missions in the United States. The jurisdiction of our office is Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.