PRINCE GEORGE, BC – Kazuko Komatsu, owner and president of Pacific Western Brewing (PWB) for the last 27 years, has passed away at age 70 following a battle with cancer.
Komatsu moved to Canada from Japan in the late 1970s, and exported various Canadian products back to her home country, including PWB’s Dragon Dry brand. When the brewery fell into financial difficulties in 1991, she purchased it and – as noted in an obituary posted by PWB – “invested in improving the brewing process with a constant eye on making quality beer.”
Under her leadership, PWB became the world’s third-largest exporter of beer to Japan via a supply contract with approximately 400 KFC locations in the country. It was also the first Canadian brewery to export beer to Mainland China and Russia, and the first North American brewery to meet ISO 9001 quality standards.
Komatsu’s dedication to the local community and other philanthropic goals can be seen in many PWB initiatives including “reforestation projects, the University of Northern BC, salmon stock rehabilitation, support to local athletes and teams through the Hometown Heroes Program as well as PWB’s successful bid to become an official sponsor of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.”
“We are devastated by her loss,” said Tom Leboe, PWB’s manager. “Kazuko has been an inspiration to all of us over the past 27 years. Her style of leadership taught us to strive to be better every day and to excel at every task. Through good times and bad, her loyalty and commitment to the PWB family and to the community has been extraordinary.”