“KATO was originally founded in the 1930s in Japan,” says Al Qaqish
(pronounced k˘a-KEESH), owner of KATO Fastening Systems in Newport News. Before running this successful business, Qaqish studied mechanical engineering and aerospace. This made KATO a perfect fit for his next venture in life.
In 1997, KATO opened in Newport News. Qaqish believes this location has been ideal for the business, which has continually grown over the years. When describing KATO’s services, Qaqish explains that the company “manufactures and distributes aerospace fasteners that provide superior threaded products for the aerospace and defense industries.”
KATO maintains a niche focus on its specialized inserts and tools which allows the company to produce some of the best products for the aerospace and defense industry.
Not only does KATO manufacture fastening products, but it also produces the installation and removal tools needed for each product it creates. “We design and assemble the installation and removal tools for the fasteners right here in Newport News,” Qaqish says. These products and installation systems are then “handled through a national network of distributors” to provide the aerospace world with all its fastening and installation needs.
Having operated for many years, KATO has proven to be continually successful regardless of the economic climate. “We’ve been fortunate,” Qaqish says. “We’ve seen steady growth. Even during recessions, our business has stayed steady. We hit a goal of 100,000,000 inserts produced and sold in one year.”
This growth has allowed KATO to expand slowly, moving into a new facility four years ago. Now Qaqish is looking to move again, doubling KATO’s space. Even as a small business, the company’s growth has been consistent.
Qaqish believes that what sets KATO apart is that it has “always been the Tangless, a market leader.” Several successful innovations have kept them at the front of the market, such as its most recent 0-80 Tangless insert, which is a minuscule product that no one else has been able to make. KATO also creates the tiny tools needed to install the inserts.
Another innovation is its new product, the LockONE, which Qaqish says “can be installed onto the end of any standard nut, turning the nut into a locking anti-vibration assembly that will not become loose.” KATO’s continual dedication to creating innovative products that the market is lacking has allowed it to stay one step ahead of its competitors.
When he is not busy managing the success of his business, Qaqish appreciates motor sports and spending time with his family. He enjoys motorcycles, going to motorcycle races and taking his son Noah to soccer and football practices. His business and personal life have intertwined recently, as KATO is sponsoring a racer in September at a motor sports course in Alabama.
Qaqish is proud of the people he works with, saying, “We’re a small business with a handful of hardworking people, creating innovative ideas for the aerospace market.” He looks forward to watching KATO’s continued growth and success.
TO THE POINT:
KATO Fastening Systems, Inc.
Address: 11864 Fishing Point Dr., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Al Qaqish, president