Suisan Co. Ltd. has established an endowed scholarship in honor of Rex Y. Matsuno at Hawaii Community College with a $35,000 gift. The Suisan Co. Ltd./Rex Y. Matsuno Culinary Scholarship Endowment will support students who are graduates of a high school on the Big Island of Hawaii and are enrolled as full-time students in the Culinary Arts Program.
“Hawaii Community College is proud to establish an endowed scholarship that will provide local students with financial resources to support their dreams of earning a college degree in the culinary arts,” said Chancellor Noreen Yamane. “Hawaii CC will honor this donation with our commitment to provide students with high quality instruction that will take them from the classroom to the workplace. We thank Suisan Co. Ltd. for their generosity and helping our students follow in the footsteps of the Matsuno family and become success stories for this island.”
Glenn T. Hashimoto, CEO of Suisan, added, “This scholarship was established to honor Rex Y. Matsuno’s contributions to the food industry on the Big Island of Hawaii and recognize the company’s existence for over 100 years.” Hashimoto continued, “This effort to reach out to our community will provide educational opportunities to students studying culinary arts.”
Suisan was incorporated in 1907 by fishermen and fish peddlers operating in the former Waiakea Town in Hilo. Kamezo Matsuno, Rex Yoshio Matsuno’s father, was an issei immigrant who came to Hawaii from Okikamura, a small fishing village in Oshima-Gun, Yamaguchi Ken, Japan. At around age 29, Kamezo was one of the youngest of the original founders of what was then called Sui San Kabushiki Kaisha (Japanese version of Suisan Co. Ltd.).
Suisan persevered through two world wars and the April 1, 1946 tsunami that devastated the coastal city of Hilo. As the years went by, the older Suisan founders retired or passed on. Kamezo formally took up the reins as Suisan’s fifth president in 1950.
Rex followed in his father’s footsteps, working at Suisan’s fish market while going to school in his youth. Rex heeded a higher calling to serve his country when World War II broke out and upon returning from the war Rex attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo under the G.I. Bill.
Imbued with a true entrepreneurial spirit and vision, Rex embraced the then revolutionary concept of frozen foods and started Suisan’s frozen food distribution division in 1949.
The fateful May 23, 1960 tsunami would wipe out and effectively end the existence of former Waiakea Town, where Suisan’s fish market and frozen food distribution divisions had been thriving. Down but not out, Suisan rebuilt and expanded both operating divisions under Rex’s leadership, and further diversified into fruit processing, the distribution of paper products, and other ventures related to the company’s primary businesses. In 1967, Rex took the helm as Suisan’s sixth president.
His drive and commitment to provide exceptional customer service caused Suisan to continually expand its refrigerated facilities and delivery fleet as Suisan’s businesses grew. Today, Suisan is the premier food distributor on the Big Island and one of the Top 250 businesses in the State of Hawaii.