Allen Uyeda, First Insurance president and CEO, pounding the mochi with the help of a volunteer from Tenrikyo Hawaii Mission. PHOTO COURTESY OF FIRST INSURANCE

Allen Uyeda, First Insurance president and CEO, pounding the mochi with the help of a volunteer from Tenrikyo Hawaii Mission. PHOTO COURTESY OF FIRST INSURANCE

BY SHAUNA GOYA – It’s another year, but 2011 won’t be any ordinary year for First Insurance Company of Hawaii. On Monday employees kicked off the first day back to work with a mochi-pounding ceremony to commemorate the company’s 100 years of doing business in Hawaii.

First Insurance has a long-standing relationship with rice, specifically through its corporate values of Respect, Integrity, Creating the Future for the Company and the Community, and Excellence.

President and CEO Allen Uyeda kicked off the event by thanking employees and committing to another year of working hard for the community. “As our mochi-pounding event symbolizes, we all possess, in a very real sense, the power to protect First Insurance’s tradition of quality and to shape its future,” he said. “Throughout this company’s history, the employees of First Insurance have figured first and foremost in creating its future.”

Uyeda then lifted the heavy wooden mallet and took more than a dozen pounds as staffers cheered and clapped. “It was the first time I ever pounded mochi and I wanted to make sure I did a good job for the success of our company,” he said.

A handful of employees representing the various divisions also had the opportunity to pound the mochi, which was prepped in advance by volunteers from Tenrikyo Hawaii Mission. As the mochi was being shaped and azuki beans added, the cafeteria was buzzing with excitement.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of a company celebrating its 100th anniversary,” said Nina Shimabukuro, an agency relations manager who has been with FICOH for 10 years. “Not only are we continuing to shape our rich history, we’ve seen how change has impacted us.”

Shimabukuro is also looking forward to the other centennial activities this year, including a gala celebration and more community-service opportunities.

Each of the more than 300 employees was also given one piece of mochi to take home though most were already enjoying the sweet treat.

Shauna Goya is with Communications Pacific

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