comscore Koa deal gives Y. Hata base on 4 major isles | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Koa deal gives Y. Hata base on 4 major isles

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Y. Hata & Co. Ltd., a wholesale distributor to the food service industry, has purchased Lihue-based Koa Trading Co., a wholesale food distributor for the food service and grocery industries.

The deal gives Y. Hata an operational base on each major island, given its operations in Hilo and Honolulu, and its partnership with Valley Isle Produce Inc., which does business as VIP Foodservice.

Terms for the deal, expected to close in January, were undisclosed.

"Koa Trading Company has worked with Y. Hata & Co. for two generations," said Koa President Peter Yukimura in a statement.

"Y. Hata is an exemplary locally owned and operated company, and I am confident that this will be a positive transition for Koa Trading."

Yukimura had been wanting to divest, said Russell Hata, CEO of Y. Hata and grandson of the founder.

Koa Trading has 30 to 35 employees, estimated Hata, adding that "the goal is to grow the branch. I think there’s a lot of growth potential there."

"I wrote an internal memo to our staff and suppliers," recalling how 30 years ago, "when the big mainland boys were coming into town, I went to all the major local distributors on each island and tried to create a joint venture," Hata said.

His "whole strategy at that time was" to get "the local guys" to "hold hands against the big mainland boys."

One of the local "big boys," Hata has been developing ChefZone, a 45,000- square-foot membership store and service center for food service business owners and nonprofit organizations at 2888 Ualena St. in the airport area. The store is on track to open later this year.

Yoichi and Naeko Hata started the company in 1913 in Hilo, selling wholesale products from their garage on Hawaii island. Five of the couple’s 10 children built the garage-based business into what, with the Kauai acquisition, will be a statewide concern.

Koa Trading Co. was founded in 1938 by Hisakichi Yukimura. It started as a grocery store for plantation workers in Kilipaki Valley. Then in 1946, family members Yoshio and Masako Yukimura opened a full grocery and general store in Lihue. In 1970 Peter Yukimura transitioned the company into a full-service wholesale distributor of meats, poultry, seafood, dairy products, frozen foods and general grocery items.

The grocery distribution business is an aspect Y. Hata got out of years ago to focus on its food service clients such as restaurants, schools, hospitals and other premises where food is cooked on-site, Hata said.

"We intend to honor (Koa Trading’s) history and service to the Kauai community while growing the company for the future."

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