Discover Nikkei Logo

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/648/

Getting involved in the family business at age 19

When I was 19, I was going to Kapiolani Community College and my dad got really sick. He was in the hospital for like 5, 6 months. And in those days, they used to give him enough medicine where he gets very woozy and he doesn’t know what time of day it is, what it is, so…and I used to work for him off and on since I was 7th grade. So I knew the business on the outside, but not really on the inside. I knew how to do payroll and stuff like that, but not how to estimate plans or how to read plans and stuff like that. But he just called me. He told me, “Take me to the hospital. You’ve got to take over from tomorrow.” So when I was 19, I had to do that.

And I had a lot of help from his competitors, like Bob Kaya, Eddie Nagao – they helped me how to read plans. I went to school to read plans and, you know, go to business law and stuff like that. But basically I didn’t know what I was doing for the first 2 years. It was very difficult because every business has their own language. So like the carpenter tells me, “I need 4,000 linear foot of crown molding” so I go to the material house and I picked up 4,000 bolt feet of crown molding. One crown molding is like 1 inch. Bolt feet is 12 inch. So 12 times 4,000 is like 50,000 bolt feet. So I brought this whole truckload of stuff and they all are laughing because they say, “What you doing?” so they took what they needed and told me to take the rest back. And I was so embarrassed because I’m taking the whole thing back to the same place I bought it.

So it was a learning curve that I had to do, but I had a lot of help from…in those days, competition was a little bit different than now.


Bob Kaya building business construction construction industry economics Eddie Nagao management

Date: June 1, 2006

Location: Hawai`i, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Bert A. Kobayashi, founder of the Kobayashi Group LLC, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 10, 1944. He is a third generation Japanese American whose parents were also born and raised in Hawai‘i. At the age of 19, his father Albert fell ill and Bert was suddenly introduced to the difficult realities of running a business when he took over the construction company founded by his father. Bert eventually guided the business to become the largest local construction company in Hawai‘i, selling the business to a group of employees in 1997. He then founded the Kobayashi Development Group, serving as chairman until his retirement, and continues to be an advisor to the company led by his son, B.J. Kobayashi, who serves as CEO and president. Bert is known throughout the state of Hawai‘i for his generous philanthropic efforts such as starting the University of Hawai‘i Foundation and has been an active member on numerous community and educational boards. (2007年3月1日)

Kazuo Funai
en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai

Bad business deal (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai
en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai

Company in Tokyo burned down (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt
Sam Naito
en
ja
es
pt
Sam Naito

Starting an import business after World War II

(b. 1921) Nisei businessman. Established "Made in Oregon" retail stores

en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume
en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume

Father’s success in farm business

(b. 1922) Canadian Nisei who was unable to return to Canada from Japan until 1952

en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume
en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume

Liaison between the Americans and the Japanese

(b. 1922) Canadian Nisei who was unable to return to Canada from Japan until 1952

en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura
en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura

Learning skills by watching others work (Japanese)

(1911-2010) Founder of JACTO group

en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura
en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura

Repaying Brazil by educating the technicians (Japanese)

(1911-2010) Founder of JACTO group

en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi
en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi

No question about going into the family business

Hawaiian businessman, developer.

en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi
en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi

About Albert Chikanobu Kobayashi, Inc.

Hawaiian businessman, developer.

en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano
en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano

Yoshitaro Amano’s Business in Japan (Japanese)

(b. 1929) President of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano
en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano

Yoshitaro Amano’s Tuna Fishing Boat (Japanese)

(b. 1929) President of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane
en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane

How Yoshitaro Amano got to South America (Japanese)

(b. 1948) Executive Director of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane
en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane

Yoshitaro Amano continues his efforts in business in order to pursue his studies (Japanese)

(b. 1948) Executive Director of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Harunori Oda
en
ja
es
pt
Harunori Oda

Getting started in America

(1927-2016) Shin-Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt
Harunori Oda
en
ja
es
pt
Harunori Oda

Learning the nursery business

(1927-2016) Shin-Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt

Discover Nikkei Updates

NIKKEI CHRONICLES #13
Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
VIRTUAL PROGRAM
Nikkei Uncovered IV: a poetry reading
Join us virtually and enjoy poetry by Matthew Mejia, Christine Kitano, and Mia Ayumi Malholtra.
PROJECT UPDATES
NEW SITE DESIGN
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!