Mr. Sawamura assumed his new responsibilities as of early January, 2020. Jack Igarashi steps down as COO, returns to Japan as Corporate Auditor of Kai Group.
TUALATIN, OREGON—The Kai Group has appointed Noritaka Sawamura as Chief Operating Officer of Kai USA. Mr. Sawamura assumed his new responsibilities as of early January, 2020.
“I am excited to be part of this unique company,” said Sawamura. “I don’t think there’s another company that offers its customers such a wide variety of cutting implements designed to help them successfully accomplish tasks in so many areas of their daily lives. Customers with a wide variety of interests—from outdoor activities to cooking—know they can count on Kai USA’s strong, well-respected knife brands to provide them with excellent value every day.”
Kai USA is the North American division of Japan’s Kai Group, which provides over 10,000 different products worldwide, ranging from housewares and fine cutlery to beauty care products and medical supplies.
As COO, Mr. Sawamura will oversee such nationally known brands as Kershaw Knives, Zero Tolerance Knives, Shun Cutlery, and Kai Housewares products. In addition to those responsibilities, he will also direct Kai’s Universal Razor Industries division in Los Angeles.
Mr. Sawamura brings a strong background and global perspective to Kai USA. Before joining the company last year as Executive Vice President, he served for 31 years in a variety of executive positions with the Sony Corporation, working in Japan, the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President and head of consumer electronics with Sony of Canada, Ltd.
Jack Igarashi, who has led Kai USA since 1997, is returning to Japan in an expanded role as Corporate Auditor of Kai Group. Under his leadership, Kai USA made remarkable strides, growing to annual sales exceeding $90 million.
Sawamura intends to continue Kai USA’s growth, becoming even more competitive and even more innovative in its products and consumer communications. He sees Kai USA as a kind of crossroads between the US and Japan. On the US side are the Kershaw and Zero Tolerance pocketknife brands. On the Japanese side are the Shun brand and Kai kitchen cutlery products. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of managing both sides of Kai USA’s business to maximize our opportunities in the marketplace now and in the future,” commented Sawamura.