Talk Story with HFIA’s new Chair Gary Okimoto

This year we welcome our new Chair Gary Okimoto. While Gary is relatively new to HFIA, he’s been with Safeway in Hawaii for nearly a quarter century. We recently sat down to talk story with the new Chair.

How did you get your start in the food industry?

I’ve been with Safeway for 23 years. I started working in the food industry in 1999 at the original Beretania Safeway store as a courtesy clerk. From there, I was promoted to Grocery Manager, Person in Charge, Assistant Store Director, and Relief Store Director. I have worked at many stores serving Kapahulu, Aiea, Kailua, Kaneohe, and Kahului before becoming Center of Store Operations Specialist for Safeway Hawaii stores in 2016 after attending the prestigious Food Industry Management Program at USC.

How long have you been involved with HFIA?

I have been involved with HFIA for the past two years since serving as HFIA Treasurer. Recently serving as Vice Chair this past year of 2022.

What is your favorite thing about being part of Hawaii’s food industry?

My favorite part about being part of Hawaii’s food industry is serving our customers and community. Safeway has been proudly serving Hawaii since 1963. Our associates are deeply rooted in the neighborhoods we serve at our 23 locations across the state, and they take a lot of pride in providing great customer service to create customers for life.

Why is HFIA important to you and Safeway?

I enjoy building relationships and connecting with other professionals in the industry. It’s important for Safeway to be part of HFIA to stay engaged in advocacy efforts and be represented on policy issues impacting our industry.

What are your goals for the year as Chair of HFIA?

I bring a diverse perspective representing a large grocer while acting like an owner to overcome challenges and obstacles that are unique to store operations in Hawaii. I’ve learned a lot the past few years supporting our store teams throughout the pandemic and assisting our communities during natural disasters. My goal to champion HFIA’s mission to promote the strength, sustainability and resilience of Hawaii’s food and beverage industry.