OCTOBER 2022 UPDATE by David W. Fukumoto, president and founder
ALOHA! Much has changed. Our website went online in 1999 as one of the early bonsai websites and continues to be created in-house. David and Myrtle Fukumoto began Fuku-Bonsai in 1973 as Hawaii's first certified export nursery as a family business with a remarkable beginning with annual expansion loans to meet market demand. At our peak we shipped over 3,000 bonsai units each month. We were part of the Hawaii bonsai leadership that worked directly with Japan's grandmaster Saburo Kato to create "International Bonsai" and the World Bonsai Friendship Federation between 1970 to 1990.
In 1985 Fuku-Bonsai incorporated to be the catalyst to build a 17-acre international bonsai center in the then developing Kona-Kohala visitor destination area. We exchanged the entire profitable business for Fuku-Bonsai shares and were joined by over 200 mostly modest bonsai and Big Island stockholders. The Kona Fuku-Bonsai Center opened to public acclaim in 1992 but was doomed as defective DuPont Benlate contaminated with weedkillers had been sprayed at the Kurtistown nursery and directly or indirectly this caused over $50 million of losses!
DuPont offered to settle for a small amount we refused, but when the bankruptcy creditors agreed, our only choice was to agree or be liquidated. We paid all creditors 100% + interest and in 1996, with no remaining creditors, the bankruptcy was cancelled. We lost the Kona center, retreated to the Kurtistown nursery, and with co-sponsorship of Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation (MPBF) we opened a second modest Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.
We learned the information DuPont provided the bankruptcy court included major omissions and misrepresentation and "affirmed the Benlate settlement and sued DuPont for fraud --- and were subjected to another 10 years of legal bullying! Fraud was already a matter of court record and Fuku-Bonsai had done the most to prove DuPont was the cause, suffered the most losses, but received the smallest settlements! DuPont's fraud is taught and said to be the most egregious fraud in the history of the United States judicial system!
Total net proceeds of both the 1994 Benlate product liability and the 2007 DuPont fraud after taxes and legal costs was less than 3% of our total losses! LIFE IS NOT FAIR, BUT WE SURVIVED. Many of the original 5,000+ Benlate plaintiffs are no longer in business. We struggled as Benlate contamination prevented growing the original profitable crop and required totally new crops, and business plan.
Dwarf Schefflera is a superior TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™ plant but required a lot more customer information compared to our original Schefflera (Brassaia actinophylla). We completed the switch in 2000 (although we first started growing dwarf schefflera from when it was first introduced about 1976). Some of our original bonsai are the oldest dwarf schefflera bonsai in the United States. The entry tree shown in the photo above is mounted on a 72" diameter concrete disc on a turntable and features three major attractive "theme-views."
However, we are currently short-handed and the nursery is not always open. Prior email appointments are strongly recommended. Myrtle and I are both in the highest risk CORVID-19 categories and mask and social distancing is required. Email to email@example.com No phone calls please but include in your email your cell phone number if it is necessary to contact you. I am hard of hearing and struggle with phones.
In 2018, Fuku-Bonsai suffered major Hurricane Lane flash-flood damage as reported at www.fukubonsai.com/1a1c5.html and we are still recovering. We lost most of our priceless exhibit and educational collection, but the main nursery was not damaged. Inventory is at an all-time low, but we continue to sell out production.
In October 2022, Fuku-Bonsai announced a major plan to REFINANCE AND RESTRUCTURE THE CORPORATION including seeking 200 new large and modest stockholders with minimum investment of $2,500. You're invited to join us as we rebuild and recover. We will be issuing a free monthly FBnews email newsletter and encourage signing up on the homepage. We reserve the right to limit and give Hawaii and past associates preference and it is not necessary to be an investor to be an active member of our public-private task force and True Indoor Bonsai community.
The Fukumotos continue to be the major stockholder and as part of their estate planning, will donate about 30% of all stock to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation to start moving to include an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and evolving Fuku-Bonsai to be a semi-non-profit community benefit corporation as we develop a successor management team to benefit bonsai, staff, managers, stockholders, associates and the community. We are continuing our efforts with our primary goal: "MAKING THE BIG ISLAND AN INTERNATIONAL BONSAI MECCA! Please email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested and for more information.
To provide more about us, I am retaining the original information about visiting Fuku-Bonsai. I thank you for all past assistance and support and look forward to hearing from you! ~~~ David
KURTISTOWN! Our large sparsely-populated area was once homesteads where you could own property by clearing and working the land. It's a town of small business people with J. Hara Store, the post office, and BJ Service Station. Kurtistown is on Volcano Highway 11 about 10 miles from Hilo and 20 miles from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If you're coming from Hilo, you'll come through Keaau and begin noticing that it begins to feel cool. After the 9-mile marker, look for an intersection sign for Olaa Road and your see a "BONSAI" sign right at the intersection of Volcano Highway and Olaa Road. If you're coming from Kona through Volcanoes National Park, you'll past our small town's "business district" shown above. Count nine houses and you'll see that first Fuku-Bonsai sign.
NOTE: The signs have been improved, the Norfolk Pine windbreak is now gone, there's a small house on the corner, and the long driveway that was filled with deep potholes is now paved. No need to park on Olaa Road and walk in during rainy seasons!
A PHOTO VISIT TO FUKU-BONSAI
NOTE: In 1994, the Kona Fuku-Bonsai Center was forced to close and we retreated back to the Kurtistown nursery that previously was not open to visitors. We began rebuilding and opened a modest new Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository. With the aid of small promotional displays throughout the Big Island at Fuku-Bonsai Promotional Partners, soon a small but steady stream of visitors found us in the middle of a former cane field! This photo tour was added to the website about 1996.
There have been steady improvements to our bonsai knowledge as well as at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center as reported in the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai. Visitors enjoy seeing the specific plants that were the subject of articles. With limited resources, we continued to make improvements in all areas.
The above photo taken in February 2015 shows about half of the Fuku-Bonsai Dwarf Schefflera Exhibit and Educational Collection. The center will be continually improved and visitors are able to visit a working bonsai nursery, select certified plants for shipping to all parts of the United States, and to take bonsai workshops with Fuku-Bonsai staff supervision.
Each year, more of our oldest customers are finding us and we're delighted with the huge increase in customer success and interest in training True Indoor Bonsai. Email us for more information and consider a workshop! Many visitors write to tell us it was the highlight of their Hawaiian vacation! There's a lot more information in the portal section: "VISITING FUKU-BONSAI AND THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII" at www.fukubonsai.com/MAIN.4.html
E KOMO MAI . . . come discover the serenity of nature, the beauty of bonsai, and the spirit of Hawaii!