By Patti Fukada, Membership Development Committee Member
On Friday, June 23, 2017 HJCC members gathered at Pōmaika‘i Ballrooms for an Executive Forum Series: Leaders Growing Leaders presented by the Membership Development Committee (MDC) featuring guest speaker Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises. FCH Enterprises is an HJCC member company and includes Zippy’s Restaurants, Napoleon’s Bakery, Food Solutions International, Pōmaika‘i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery, A Catered Experience (ACE), Kahala and Pearl City Sushi, and Germaine’s Luau. Jason shared about how he strives to preserve core values of the company founders as the second generation family business leader and how family businesses are different from other businesses.
Zippy’s Restaurants was founded by brothers, Francis and Charlie Higa, in 1966 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. In 1966 they had 62 employees and Zippy’s was the first restaurant to open 24 hours a day. Today they employ 2,000 employees with 24 locations on Oahu, Kahului, Maui and Hilo on the island of Hawai’i. It was in 2001 that Zippy’s was renamed “FCH Enterprises, Inc.” to create a family of brands.
Jason started working in the family business during the summers while in high school. Working as a dishwasher at the Makiki Zippy’s. After graduating from high school he left Hawaii to attend college. And came home to work as a Honolulu attorney from 1990 to 1995, working in the areas of litigation and transactional law.
In 1995, Jason decided to return to the family business so he could spend more time with his father Francis. He went through the company management trainee program working in the kitchen as a utility cook, wait help and delivered bakery products. After Francis passed away in 1999, Jason realized that both his father and Uncle Charlie had very little knowledge on how to run the restaurant business. And had not considered putting together a succession plan for the business. Francis and Charlie had very different personalities and took on different roles to make the business successful. Francis was the visionary and determined the direction of the company, with support from Charlie. Charlie, on the other hand, made most of the operational decisions and handled all food and paper purchases. The brothers were very humble and felt that anyone could do what they were doing and take over when the time came. Jason took on the leadership position of CEO and President for FCH Enterprises in 2003.
Jason shared the companies “Family Business” presentation. The presentation provided insight on how it was decided to create a “Family Council” and “Family Traditions”, “Succession Planning” and “Estate Planning” for Charlie and Ruth. The presentation was very detailed, informative and enlightening as it applied to the family council members.
The Executive Forum is a rare opportunity for members to network with some of Hawaii’s most successful business executives through a series of small group, “talk story” sessions, featuring HJCC member and non-member executives and business leaders. They share their management philosophies, keys to success, visions for the future, and personal stories with chamber members. Through a series of Executive Forums, Chamber members have the opportunity to meet with some of Hawaii’s most accomplished CEOs.
We would like to extend a big Mahalo to Jason and his staff for hosting our event at the beautiful Pōmaika‘i Ballrooms!!