Restoring Small Businesses: Saito-san’s Truck

Katsuo Saito- Engine Repair Technician, Kesennuma, Miyagi, Japn

Katsuo Saito- Engine Repair Technician, Kesennuma, Miyagi, Japn

“I can’t thank you enough.  Whenever I see my truck, I say, ‘Thank You, Peace Winds America,’ in my head.  I didn’t think I’d be able to receive support for the truck.”

Katsuo Saito’s eyes are filled with tears.  He is a recipient of PWA’s Small Business Support program, which aims to encourage faster recovery of small business owners’ livelihoods by providing small subsidies to purchase equipment that was lost to the 2011 tsunami.

Saito-san repairs motors for winches installed on deep-sea fishing vessels.

The tsunami destroyed his workshop, but luckily, only the first floor of the house was damaged.  It is one of the few surviving homes in his neighborhood in Kesennuma.  Saito-san’s family lived upstairs while mudding out and repairing the workshop and the first floor of the house.  His son, Shuichi, works with him.  It’s a real small family business.

Saito-san and his son discussing the situation with PWA's Mari Poorman in March 2013

Saito-san and his son discussing the situation with PWA’s Mari Poorman in March 2013

Until the subsidy from PWA enabled him to purchase a used truck with a crane to lift heavy winch motors, Mr. Saito had to arrange a rental truck whenever he received a repair order.

“It was just time consuming and costly to do so, and sometimes we had to turn down orders because we couldn’t arrange a rental truck in time. Now I have been working much more efficiently and being more productive.”

Deep-sea fishing is a major industry in Kesennuma. Many vessels chase wild Tuna as far as South America for as long as 18 months at a time.  They carry around 20 fishermen and crew onboard.

Saito-san plays an important role in this critical maritime industry.

“There are only three engineers who can repair these motors in Kesennuma.  We have been extremely busy but, we were not able to repair as many vessels because we lost our truck.  The average motor weighs about 600kg, so it was impossible to carry on our own.”

Saito-san has been repairing marine engines in Kesennuma for 40 years.

Saito-san has been repairing marine engines in Kesennuma for 40 years.

Saito-san still has a long way to go to rebuild his business.  His house and workshop are located in an area scheduled to be raised by 3 meters.  He will need to move.  “I need to find land where I can rebuild my workshop, but land prices have gone up and it is hard to find available and reasonably priced land in the area.”

In order for Saito-san to be able to think about his future, he needed a truck.  A truck with a crane so he could support the many deep-sea vessels in the area and a truck which helps his livelihood.  PWA knows how to maximize your donations to provide a long lasting impact in the area’s industry.

Tohoku is slowly recovering and we are very happy to support a small business owner like Saito-san who has been working for over 40 years helping deep-sea fishermen in the Tohoku region.

Thank you very much for your generous support!

Mari Poorman- Project Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

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