Big Island Toyota & De Luz Family – History
Together since 1958, till today!
John Correira (Utility), David S. De Luz, Sr (Owner), Tatsuo "Baldy" Higashi (VP Sales)
How It All Began:
Big Island Toyota traces its roots to pre-statehood with a fascinating heritage rooted in American entrepreneurship, and incorporating the fundamentals of success: hard work, great risk and sheer determination.
David S. De Luz, Sr., owner was born in 1931 in Pa’auilo, Hawaii, (the Big Island) the first child of Virginia and Frank De Luz, Jr. The De Luz ancestors came in the mid-1800s from the island of Madeira, in the Azores, Portugal. They came to the lush Hamakua Coast as contract workers to the sugar plantation, and came with the American Dream.
They quickly became entrepreneurs. Mr. DeLuz’s father and grandfather were Big Island ranchers, and by age 15, David Sr, was selling tripe and other meat products door-to-door at plantation camps. This work ethic would later serve him well as he moved into the automotive industry.
An Automotive Success Story: started with dreams, visions and hard work – a model that continues today through a caring staff, quality service and a commitment to the community.
In the early 1950s David Sr., started selling new and used cars for Ruddle’s (Ford dealer) in Hilo. He says from the first day he walked onto the dealership, and sold his first car, he was hooked! It was obvious he found his niche and passion in the automotive industry. What followed became a life-long commitment to the automotive industry in the State of Hawaii, and has spanned over half a century:
1958 Dave’s Wholesale Auto Exchange in Hilo (Used Cars)
1962 Big Island Rambler, Inc. in Hilo - David Sr.’s first franchised car dealership – started with a trailer, and seven dedicated employees, three are still with us today!
Shortly thereafter - first stand-alone used car lot opened on Mamo Street in Hilo (now the popular Farmer’s Market in downtown Hilo).
1966 Big Island Rambler is renamed Big Island Motors, Inc., as the new import from Japan TOYOTA is added to Big Island Rambler, becomes Big Island Motors, Inc.
Kealekekua-Kona location added, selling new AMCs, Toyotas and Used vehicles.
Early 1970s, opened Big Island Toyota Used Cars in Hilo, and Big Island Toyota, Inc. in Kailua-Kona opens with full service dealership with sales, parts and service departments
1975 Datsun (later Nissan) of Maui – owned & operated for over 10 years
1977 Auto Imports of Hawaii in Hilo – Jeep, Renault, Mazda, Harley Davidson & Kawasaki motorcycles.
1981 National Car Rental Hawaii – 2nd largest franchise in the National system, sold in 1988 with a fleet of 3000 vehicles, 12 locations on 4 islands.
1990 Big Island Toyota Hilo operations moves - to 811 Kanoelehua Avenue, Hilo (present location)
1992 Hilo Mazda Subaru – franchise awarded – opened by David Sr.’s son, David Jr., in Hilo.
1993 Kona Mazda Subaru – opens in Kailua-Kona.
1997 Big Island Toyota – 811 Kanoelehua Avenue, Hilo adds new showroom, along with administration and accounting offices.
2003 Big Island Toyota – Hilo stores adds new parts and service center.
2004 Big Island Toyota – 175 Wiwoole Street, Hilo, new building constructed, now Big Island Suzuki and BIT Pre-Owned Super Center.
2005 David Sr. sells Hilo-Kona Mazda Subaru to his son, Wayne.
2006 Big Island Toyota Car Care Center opened in Hilo - (prep and detail)
2007 Planning in place for Big Island Toyota – Kona to move operations to a new location in 2010.
Our People Make THE Difference:
David S. De Luz, Sr., Tatsuo “Baldy” Higashi and John Correira
December 2007 marked the 45th anniversary of Big Island Toyota, Inc – David Sr., Baldy and John have worked together since 1958 when Dave’s Used Cars opened.
Higashi and De Luz sold cars door-to-door, carrying Polaroid pictures of vehicles, then delivering the sold vehicles to customers homes the following week. They traveled island-wide weekly. John was the most prolific “bird dog”, arranging appointments for potential customers to speak with Baldy and David Sr.
The three men embody true team spirit – and share David Sr,’s formula for success: “Our people take care of the customers, and the rest will come.” Collectively, they have done virtually all positions at the dealership, responding whenever duty called to insure the ongoing success of Big Island Toyota. Before Toyota was a resounding success in the USA, Big Island Toyota since the early 1970s (and until today) was the number one dealership on the Big Island in total unit sales.
David Sr. feels that attitude and determination in his #1 team is the defining reason for their success at Big Island Toyota. Although blessed to have a Toyota franchise, he will be quick to tell you that it is his team of dedicated employees who are making the difference in the marketplace, not the products.
The Next Generation:
Mr. De Luz’s children with his first wife, Jean Katsuyoshi De Luz (deceased 1977), a schoolteacher originally from Honolulu, all worked with their father and in the family businesses from when they were teenagers, during and after college. Three of his children still work in the automotive dealerships in their chosen fields:
David S. De Luz, Jr., Creighton University, Omaha, NE, BBA in Finance
Vice-President - Special Projects & Facilities
Wayne K. De Luz, Northwood Institute, Midland, MI, BS in Automotive Management
President of Big Island Motors (Hilo/Kona Mazda Subaru) and Vice President of Operations of Big Island Toyota Inc.
Jackie De Luz Watanabe, University of Hawaii, West Oahu, BA in Humanities; Ashford University, Clinton, IA, MBA.
Vice-President - Risk Management & Human Resources
The Sunrise Years:
Josephine (David Sr.’s wife of 25+ years) and David De Luz, Sr., have 8 children, 12 grand-children and one great-granddaughter. They continue to reside on the slopes of Mauna Kea in Pa’auilo, and enjoy witnessing the most spectacular sunrises on the planet each morning. David Sr., after more than 50 years in the automotive industry, still comes to Big Island Toyota daily, and one of his greatest joys remains staying in contact with the Toyota Team and the awesome customers that come everyday to the dealerships. (p.s. David Sr., and Josephine … guess what they drive? ONLY TOYOTAS OF COURSE!)