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Honolulu man crossed cultures with KFC in Asia

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Honolulu resident Loy Stewart Weston’s flexibility as a leader was the key to his success in establishing Kentucky Fried Chicken in Asia beginning in the late 1970s.

Weston faced challenges of reconciling the opposing values of a Japanese partner — Mitsubishi Corp. — and the KFC headquarters in designing and creating a business by bridging cultural gaps, two Hawaii Pacific University professors said in a column that ran June 2, 2002, in the Star-Bulletin.

Weston, a native of Michigan, died Feb. 19 in Honolulu. He was 81.

HPU’s Jerry Glover, a professor of organizational change, and Gordon Jones, a professor of management information systems, quoted Weston when he spoke on the challenges he faced:

"I met the owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and he asked me to take the KFC franchise to Japan and other parts of Asia. Easy.

"All we had to do was change the eating habits of two-thirds of the world’s population. In Japan, that meant a nation of about 120 million people. Ever try to pick up a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken with chopsticks?"

Weston had to come up with solutions to a variety of dilemmas. He changed the store’s design to fit the limited space in Tokyo. He modified the U.S. advertising theme to fit Japanese consumers. And he treated employees as long-term assets, rather than short-term and disposable.

In the 10 years Weston was in Japan, KFC Japan opened 800 stores, making it one of the most successful and profitable restaurant franchise businesses in history, according to Glover and Jones.

Weston is survived by sisters Barbara Weston Moore and Anne Weston Ludlow Hathaway, and nephews. Private services were held.

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