Feature StoryYour Haas Network
Vladimir R. Grave, BS 72
Founder and CEO, Oritz Corporation
Vladimir Grave, BS 72, can thank his Russian grandfather for his unique name and his Japanese grandmother for a culture that is both a treasure to him and is also the basis for his successful business ventures.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Grave took a position working for a meat exporter in San Francisco. It was there he realized that he could draw on his knowledge of Japanese preferences to build a great business. In 1975 he founded Oritz Corporation in an apartment with just a typewriter and a telex. Today, Oritz has become one of the leading beef and chicken exporters to Japan with revenues of more than $200 million annually.
"Chicken is cut differently and cooked at a higher temperature in Japan," says Grave. "Japanese customers prefer smaller cuts, but no other poultry processor in the US was doing chicken Japanese style at the time, so it was a very innovative beginning for me. Taking advantage of lower poultry prices in the US and adding the specialized specification for Japan made Oritz one of the first chicken exporters to Japan."
His idea proved a success. Grave then added specialty cuts of beef and pork to the menu and later acquired a chocolate-covered macadamia nut manufacturer in Hawaii.
Grave has also opened three Japanese barbeque restaurants in the Bay Area, named Juban. At Juban, customers grill premium meats at their tables on grills Grave had imported from Japan.
"My company acts as a bridge over the two different cultures," Grave says. "I have always placed great importance on relationships with individual customers. If you always treat your clients in good faith, even after they switch companies, they may bring you another business and so you will broaden your network without starting from scratch."
Grave believes his time at Haas played an important part in his success. He says, "It gave me the confidence to know I could do anything if I really wanted to."