The I. Kitagawa and Co. Story is All About Perseverance in the Face of Adversity
Arnold T. Hiura
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
People unfamiliar with Big Island history might not know that I. Kitagawa and Co. is one of the island’s largest and most successful businesses with $90 million in sales and some 200 employees. But why wouldn’t the name of one of Hawaii Business magazine’s Top 250 companies (87th in 2016 and perennially in the Top 10 amongst neighbor island businesses) be more widely recognized by everyone?
Today, I. Kitagawa is probably better known by the four major companies that it owns and operates: Kama‘aina Motors, Kama‘aina Nissan, Kona Auto Center and five Parts Center Hawaii (NAPA) outlets on Hawai‘i island.
Old-time Hiloans, on the other hand, still refer to the state’s longest-running automobile dealership’s corporate headquarters on Kawili Street as “Kitagawa’s,” no matter what the sign out front might say. And, once inside the spacious complex, customers will indeed find the company’s four-generation legacy respectfully displayed and cared for by its current president, Brian Kitagawa, great-grandson of founder Isojiro Kitagawa.