2012 Founders & Visionaries
(page 5 of 5)
Aloha Tofu Factory Inc.
60 Years of Tradition and Consistency
1976 – Aloha Tofu family at Grand opening of facility on Akepo Lane. From left to right: Founders Tsuruko & Kamesaburo Uyehara,
A trusted name in Hawaii for more than 60 years, Aloha Tofu’s founding story is impressive as its tofu is fresh.
Founded in 1950 by Kamesaburo and Tsuruko Uyehara, Aloha Tofu has been a proud, family and locally owned business from the very beginning. Before opening the first Aloha Tofu factory, Kamesaburo worked three jobs, including one at Times Grill for the Teruya brothers. One of his friends, a businessman who was operating a tofu factory and pig farm, asked him if he would be interested in taking over his tofu factory. Soon after Kamesaburo accepted his friend’s offer, he and Tsuruko went to Japan for a short time to learn how to make tofu.
“When he returned, they started operating the factory,” says company president Paul Uyehara.
Modernized production line.
The first shop opened on Dillingham Boulevard, near the current location and Honolulu Community College (HCC). The relationship Kamesaburo gained from working with the Teruya brothers proved fruitful once they began making tofu. “I believe my grandparents were fortunate that they knew the Teruya brothers and had a location where they could drop off their products,” Paul says. “As Times Supermarkets expanded to different locations, Aloha Tofu could grow with them.”
But the relationship wasn’t the company’s only key to longevity. “In a factory setting, much like a restaurant, the goal is to make a consistent, quality product that consumers will continue to come back for,” Paul says. “We are fortunate in that our customer base is steady and that tofu is seen as a staple food in the Hawaii diet.
We have wonderfully loyal customers who have supported us.”
And while the product has remained consistent, the company has also adapted to the changing times. “The biggest change that allowed the company to expand was the modernization of the production line,” Paul says. “This started in the 1960s and has increased efficiencies and production capabilities tremendously.”
The company has also made a point to make itself more accessible to younger generations. In doing so, Aloha Tofu updated its logo in 2005 and has also maintained a strong presence on social media.
In the end, a strong adherence to tradition and consistency, paired with the flexibility to stay up to date, has helped the company strive over the years. And if you look closely at the updated logo, you’ll see the company origins are still evident on every package. “In Japanese folklore, the turtle, or kame, and the crane, or tsuru, are seen as a lucky combination representing good luck and longevity,” Paul says. “This design was based on the names of my grandparents. In this way, we hope to continue to honor the legacy that started with them.”
961 Akepo Lane
Honolulu, HI 96817
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