Yaskawa America Inc. (YAI) announces the promotion of Mike Knapek, President and COO of the Drives & Motion Division, to the position of CEO. Knapek takes over for Masahiro Ogawa, who has led Yaskawa’s drives, motion, and robotics business in the Americas for the past 5-1/2 years. Ogawa will return to Kurosaki, Japan, to take on the role of Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Yaskawa’s global robotics business.
In his new role, Knapek will lead both the Drives & Motion and Motoman Robotics Divisions of Yaskawa America Inc. He will also continue to serve as President and COO of the Drives & Motion Division, while Steve Barhorst will remain President and COO of the Motoman Robotics Division.
In August 2015, Knapek became Corporate Vice President of Yaskawa Electric Corporation in Japan. He joined Manfred Stern from Yaskawa Electric Europe to become the first non-Japanese members of the Yaskawa Electric Executive Committee.
This promotion recognizes Knapek’s leadership in driving the three Yaskawa Electric corporate principles of management: quality of products, improved efficiency of operation, and focus on customer satisfaction at YAI, as well as the entire YAI organization’s performance as it relates to those principles.
Knapek’s involvement at the Executive committee level gives a greater voice to YAI in the strategic direction of the total Yaskawa Electric organization. Further, adding a United States member to the Executive Committee fortifies YAI’s growing position as a vital asset of Yaskawa Electric Corporation.
Knapek began his career with Magnetek Inc. in 1986. After Yaskawa acquired the Drives Division from Magnetek, he grew to take on leadership roles in several product areas. He later became responsible for the drives business in North and South America. Knapek became President and COO of Yaskawa America Inc. in March of 2011. Under his direction, Yaskawa has increased market share every year, including record-setting years in 2014 and 2015.