Hiroshi (Jack) Igarashi, chief of North American Operations and
managing director of Kai Corporation, Japan, announced the promotion of Steve Grutbo to vice president of sales & marketing for the
housewares division of Kai USA Ltd.
The position became open with the departure of Kurt Zanner, who
had served in that capacity with Kai USA since 2009. Zanner is
returning to the Midwest to pursue personal and family goals. Grutbo,
who assumed leadership of the division effective Feb. 8, 2012, will
report directly to Igarashi.
Grutbo will oversee the continued North American growth of the
successful Shun brand of fine kitchen cutlery as well as the Kai brand
of kitchenware and other household products. Shun brand cutlery is
used by professional chefs, including celebrity chefs and avid home
cooks throughout North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific. Found
in homes throughout much of the world, Kai brand products are designed to enhance customers’ daily lives through quality, function
and ease of use.
“Steve brings a wealth of sales and executive experience to his new
position within the company,” said Igarashi. “I am very confident in
his abilities to continue to grow the brand.”
As a sales and marketing professional with more than 15 years of
experience, Grutbo has been a key part of the success of Kai USA Ltd.
since 2009. “I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities
of my new position,” said Grutbo, “and to working closely with the Kai
USA housewares team, as well as all of our Shun and Kai customers.”
Kai USA Ltd. is part of the Kai Corporation, a more-than-100-year-old
company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Privately held, it is run by
Koji Endo, the third generation to lead the company. Kai Corporation is
the major manufacturer and distributor of disposable razors, surgical
tools, personal care products and housewares in Japan.
Kai USA Ltd., Kai Corporation’s North American division, is led by
Jack Igarashi. Brands established and managed by Kai USA Ltd.
include Shun Cutlery, fine kitchen knives and housewares, Kershaw
Knives, sporting and everyday carrying knives, and Zero Tolerance
Knives, premium and professional knives. The company Web site is
Steve Grutbo Named Kai USA Vice
President of Sales & Marketing
WMF Americas Group Inc. Growth Surges
WMF Americas Group Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of the leading
German cookware manufacturer WMF Group, defied long-running
unease in the larger economic climate and posted record business
growth in 2011 thanks to operational enhancements and strong
demand from its customers.
Founded in 1853 and dedicated to unmatched quality and sophistication
in its extensive line of kitchen and dining products, the Germany-based
company saw sales last year top 2010’s figure by 32 percent, with the
cookware category posting an increase of 145 percent. Cookware is now
the number one product category for WMF Americas Group.
“WMF has not truly experienced negative ramifications from global
economic downturns,” said Markus Glueck, CEO and president for WMF
Americas Group Inc. “We have continued to post double-digit growth.”
WMF strengthened its return on investment in turbulent times thanks
to “spending the past two years thinking that ‘less is more,’ and that
has meant streamlined business operations. We have 25 percent fewer
distribution accounts, and our product assortment has been optimized
to suit the U.S. market.”
WMF’s 2011 cookware sales were nothing short of remarkable. In one
year, the pressure cooker and stovetop steamer sales have more than
tripled, contributing to the 145 percent overall cookware growth.
Deborah Corrado, senior vice president of sales and marketing, said
there is no reason to think this year will be any different, pointing to
WMF’s ability to create products geared toward consumers’ desire for
healthy food preparation practices.
“All of the WMF cookware has the common goal to contribute to ener-gy-efficient cooking that retains optimum flavor and nutrition,” Corrado
said. Furthermore, “as strong as 2011 proved to be, our expectations
for growth in 2012 are even higher.”