It was the gold rush that triggered the founding of B.C in 1858, but it was the businesses the built the provinces economy after the prospectors moved on.
One of those businesses was the multi-billion dollar H. Y. Louie Ltd which had one of the humblest of beginnings back in 1903 when an immigrant peasant named Hok Yat Louie opened a general store in Vancouver's Chinatown. (Photo of son, Tong below)
When Hok Yat arrived in Canada in 1896, Vancouver was not friendly at all to Asian immigrants. He started out as a farm labourer, saving money until he could fulfull his dream of opening a store. Enduring his share of prejudice as he built a business that, in 1934, he left to his sons, Tong and Tim. With the business he also left a series of letters advising them on how to conduct their affairs - from setting their goals on the business's profitability to following the laws of Heaven and being charitable.
The Louie brothers followed their fathers advice and today, Tong's son, Brandt heads a $4 billion empire, employing 8,000 people in 4 different businesses: food wholesaling, the IGA food chain, London Drugs and an import-export division.
Brandt Louie is one of the wealthiest people in Canada with a personal net worth of $1.29 billion.
The business his grandfather founded still follows the principals Hok Yat Louie laid down to his sons; serve your customers, be fair in your business dealings and honour your parents.
In a Maclean's magazine article, Brandt Louie states the family and a corporate foundation give an estimated $700,000 annually to charities, in addition to initiatives at individual stores.
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