From modest origins in the back of a truck in Pierce County, family-owned business Uwajimaya has achieved prominence as the region's premier Asian supermarket and one of the nation's best.
Founder Fujimatsu Moriguchi initially sold fish cakes from the back of his truck to Japanese immigrant laborers when he came to Seattle in 1923. During World War II the Moriguchi family, like other Japanese families, was sent to California's Tule Lake Internment Camp. Returning to Seattle after the war with $400 in his pocket, Mr. Moriguchi bought a 1,200-square-foot storefront at 422 Main Street. Today, Uwajimaya has expanded to four locations in Washington and Oregon.
Over the company's 86-year history, ownership has passed from founder Fujimatsu to his four sons—Kenzo, Tomio, Akira, and Toshi—who then extended ownership to their mother and three sisters. The second-generation siblings have been grooming the 3rd generation family members to assume the helm.
In the second program of the 2013 Family Business Legacy Series, we heard from Tomio, 2nd gen, and a member of the 3rd gen about the lessons they have learned over multiple generational transitions while maintaining and refining their mission, vision and values.
After the panel discussion, there was a breakout session and an opportunity for the attendee families to interact and share experiences.