Mike Knapek accepts promotion at Yaskawa America Inc.; retains president & COO role of the Drives & Motion Division
Yaskawa America Inc. (YAI) promoted Mike Knapek, president and COO of the Drives & Motion Division, to the position of CEO. Knapek takes over for Mr. Masahiro Ogawa, who has led Yaskawa’s Drives, Motion, and Robotics business in the Americas for more than five 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 YAI. 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 of 2015, Knapek became corporate vice president of Yaskawa Electric Corporation in Japan. He joined Manfred Stern from Yaskawa Electric Europe as the first non-Japanese members of the Yaskawa Electric Executive Committee.
This promotion recognized 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.
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 U.S. member to the executive committee fortifies YAI’s position as an asset of Yaskawa Electric Corporation.
Knapek began his career with Magnetek, Inc. in 1986. After Yaskawa acquired the Drives Division from Magnetek, he took 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 YAI in March of 2011. Under his direction, Yaskawa has increased market share every year, including record-setting years in 2014 and 2015.