Andy Matsui’s rise to success as owner, founder and president of Matsui Nursery, the nation’s largest orchid grower, is inspiring by itself. Even more remarkable is his generous nature, which has made him a local hero in Monterey County, California.
Born in Japan, Andy traveled to the US in 1961 to participate in a one-year Farm Bureau training program. He soon moved permanently to California with his wife and first daughter. Eager to learn, Andy sought out information, educating himself about flower growing and learning from others. He even wrote a book about growing mums. In 1969, Andy bought 50 acres of land near Salinas, California and began erecting his greenhouses. He grew chrysanthemums, then roses. In 1998 at age 63, after nearly 30 years of ups and downs as a commercial flower grower, Andy took a chance and transitioned all of Matsui Nursery’s production to growing orchids. He traveled the world researching and mastering the techniques of growing orchids and became a pioneer in the industry. Today, Matsui Nursery is the nation’s largest orchid grower, and consumers can buy potted orchids in supermarkets everywhere.
The surprise success and rise in popularity of orchids has been a profitable adventure for Andy, and he decided he wanted to give back to those who had given to him.
In Po Bronson’s book, “Why Do I Love These People?” Andy asks “Whom do I really owe? To whom am I indebted?” The answer was in his heart. He loved his company and the people who worked for him, most of whom were Mexican immigrants in the very situation he was in forty years ago. And he has always valued education. He sent all four of his children to Harvard for a chance to prosper on their own.
In 2004, Andy established the Matsui Foundation. Since awarding the first scholarship to a student from Gonzales High School – the very high school from which his daughters graduated – the Foundation has provided more than $5 million in scholarships to 146 students from Monterey County high schools and community colleges. The scholarships assist students who have excelled in school but whose financial circumstances would prevent them from them from pursuing their academic and professional ambitions. The goal of the Matsui Foundation is to educate and inspire students to become leaders in our community and to promote social and economic development in Monterey County.
Today, the Matsui Foundation awards students $30,000 scholarships to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and information technology through an accelerated, 3-year program offered jointly by Hartnell College and California State University, Monterey Bay (CSin3). By concentrating its scholarships in this high-demand field, the Foundation is investing in the immediate growth and success of our local community and in the long-term growth and economic vitality of our region. Learn more about the Matsui Foundation’s scholarship and the CSin3 program here.