Tuesday, February 12, 2008

House Honors Bert A. Kobayashi

L to R: Rep. Kirk Caldwell, Susan Kobayashi, Bert A. Kobayashi, Rep. Ken Ito

Today, the House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Bert A. Kobayashi, one of Hawaii's most successful developers. Rep. Ken Ito, who went to high school with Mr. Kobayashi, said a few words as a tribute to his friend:

"Mr. Speaker, we have all heard the story of Horatio Alger, who went from rags to riches.

Today we honor a gentleman who embodies the spirit of Horatio Alger, and his name is Bert Kobayashi.

Bert came from humble beginnings, and through hard work and dedication to Hawaii, he rose to become one of the most successful business people in our community.

What makes Bert so special, however, is that no matter how successful he became, he has never forgotten his Kalihi roots.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take us back to the year 1962 when Bert was barely out of high school. Bert's father, Albert C. Kobayashi, became very ill, and the responsibility for running the company fell upon Bert's young shoulders.

Since that time, Bert has run the company, building a reputation for getting the job done, on schedule, and on budget. During his tenure as the Chairman and CEO, business revenues grew from $2 million-a-year to $125 million-a-year.

I believe that the reason for his success lies in his desire to give back to Hawaii. Bert's heart has always been in building affordable housing to ensure that the local people, especially the young people, can live and work in Hawaii. Bert is credited with building hundreds of affordable homes in West Loch, Kapolei and on Maui.

Throughout government and business, many people know Bert as one of Hawaii's most successful builders, but because he is so humble, most people don't know how much time and energy he devotes to community service.

Over the years, Bert has served on the boards of the Japan-America society of Hawaii, the University of Hawaii foundation, the Kapiolani Health Care Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, among others.

All are important, but Bert seems to have a special place in his heart for the Polynesian Voyaging Society. As the board member in charge of fundraising, Bert was instrumental in rallying the general and business communities to embrace, support and ultimately strengthen the society. As we all know, without funds, good programs die. Bert did not let that happen, and to this day, Bert can always be called upon whenever the Polynesian Voyaging Society needs help.

Bert has also served on the Board of Regents for the University of Hawaii and for Georgetown University. He has won many awards, including Georgetown's Patrick Healy award in 1994, the Pacific Business News' Business leader of the year award in 2002, and Bishop Museum's Charles Reed Bishop medal in 2004.

Mr. Speaker, I've known Bert Kobayashi for a very long time, in fact, I knew him when he was still single. Bert is a brilliant business man and he has worked very hard to become what he is today. But it is also true that behind this great man is a great woman, as the saying goes, and her name is Susan Kobayashi.

Susan, will you please stand and be recognized.

Throughout their courtship and marriage, Susan has always been there for Bert. She has guided him, encouraged him, and supported him through all of his endeavors. Most of all, she has provided Bert with the love and understanding of a devoted wife.

Thank you Susan for all you have done to help Bert throughout his career. I truly don't know what Bert would have done without you, and, together, the two of you have blessed Hawaii with your partnership.

Mr. Speaker, Bert Kobayashi is the living example of the saying, "it is not how much money you have; it is what you can create in your mind and put on paper."

Whether in business or community work, Bert wanted to achieve great things for others, but he never sought recognition for himself. He would much rather be known as a hard working, honest person, who came from humble roots in Kalihi. His measure of a success is not fame or fortune, but how much you are able to give back to the community. That is the mark of a great man.

Thank you Mr. Speaker."

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