My dad was a consummate businessman, a focus that began when he was quite young. Whenever opportunity knocked, H.K. was always the first to “answer the door,” especially in his beloved Chinatown. From 1921 to 1932, he worked for Wing Lee Hardware and Furniture Store in San Francisco, first as an apprentice and clerk, and later as a buyer. For a short while, from 1938 to 1939, he also worked as a teller at the Bank of Canton.
On March 16, 1940, H.K. became co-owner of the Ti Sun Hardware Company, where he worked for the next thirty years. An article in Hardware Age, July 1942, wrote glowingly of H.K.’s new endeavor. “H.K. Wong, in age and spirit a member of the young Chinese colony welded to the American tradition, quit his job as a teller in the local bank. With four other principal partners, some of them older, G.W. Wong, D.H. Po, Der Sang, and B.H. Chan, he has formed the Ti Sun Company to deal in hardware, housewares, and furniture.”
From 1972 to 1980, my dad partnered with H.M. Frank Lim as co-owner of the Endico Corporation, the parent corporation for a building-supply business. The company developed and operated the Polk/Pacific Building Supply at 1555 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, the first Chinese-owned large-scale building materials supplier in the U.S. The Polk/Pacific Building Supply served the whole range of buyers, from individual do-it-yourself home-repairers to apartment managers and giant contractors. It was twice the size of the Ti Sun Company, with 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space.
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