Women Who Roll 2014: Kim Knupp, Yamaha

Publish Date: 
Apr 24, 2014
By Bruce Steever

IN HER ROLE as national events manager for Yamaha Motor Corp., Kim Knupp is on the front lines between the OEM and its customers. When Yamaha banners are unfurled at events like Daytona, Arizona Bike Week or Laconia, Kim is behind the effort.

Interestingly, Kim began her career at Yamaha almost by accident. “I started at Yamaha with a two-week temp assignment,” she explained. “I was with the company for a week before they offered me a position as a secretary in the technical publications department.”

Kim was just 18 years old then, and she thought it was a good part-time job to get her through college. “I was with tech pubs for about four years. Then an opportunity came up with sales promotion and PR,” she said. “I moved up through admin manager, advertising manager and then assistant division manager for sales promotion. And 34 years later, I’m still looking for that permanent steady job!”

After 34 years in the same firm, Kim claims this industry’s ability to evolve has kept her engaged every day at work. “All the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve enjoyed it,” Kim said. “There have been longer weeks, where you’ve wished there was an extra day to be found, but the job itself is what you make of it. We don’t sell refrigerators, we sell fun. Plus, I like the people I work with, and I love my team.”

That sense of fun and engagement allows Kim to keep pushing to improve every event she puts together for Yamaha. “Don’t just do this the same way you did the year before,” Kim said of event planning. “If you do that, it doesn’t get to be boring. One event is never the same from one year to the next.”

Kim firmly believes that only by working as together can the OEMs expand the opportunities they all need to grow their business.

“When I approach any type of event with other OEMs, obviously, Yamaha is important, but the event has to work for the industry, for all of us,” Kim explained. “Because the consumer is the one that suffers if we, as an industry, don’t put our best foot forward. It’s not just about us at Yamaha, it’s about all of us.”

Read all the 2014 Women Who Roll profiles here.