MBA Class of 1994
President and CEO
Tokita Seed Company
When you’re at the garden center next spring picking out tomato plants, ask about the Tomatoberry. You just might be able to grow the sweet cherry tomato variety—shaped like a strawberry—that was developed by Tokita Seed Company. Ike Tokita ’94 is president and CEO of Tokita Seed, a family business now in its third generation. Founded over 90 years ago by Ike’s grandfather, Tokita Seed is one of Japan’s oldest seed companies, known for its innovations in the cherry tomato market.
“To be honest, we didn’t intend to create a strawberry shaped tomato,” says Ike. “When I showed them to my two-year-old daughter, she thanked me for the strawberry, and the Tomatoberry name was born.” A longtime favorite in Japan, the Tomatoberry has garnered major agricultural awards in Europe and is now working to better penetrate US markets.
After Ike graduated from Simon, he began helping his father, Tom go international with the company’s products. Tom spearheaded a joint venture with China, and Ike expanded the business into India and Italy. Ike learned about Simon from a Japanese book that listed the top 20 business schools in the United States.
While at Simon, he was one of only two dozen Japanese students in attendance. Ike found these students to be quite bright and full of potential. “I asked myself, ‘How did I miss these people in Japan?,’ ” he says. “They showed so much promise that I knew I had to study hard to be able to compete against them in the business world.
“The business world can look very complicated until you analyze it theoretically,” Ike continues. “It’s also key to recognize your capabilities and limitations, especially when you need to partner with others for mutual success.” Ike travels more than 130 days a year internationally, but enjoys driving his BMX 507-hp to burn off stress. He advises prospective Simon students to get a four-wheel-drive car and take advantage of the cold winters by studying hard. “But don’t forget your golf clubs.” he adds. “The long summer days are a great opportunity to perfect your swing.”