The Los Angeles Times profiles Alhambra Councilman Gary Yamauchi in its "How I Made It" column. Yamauchi, 67, is owner of Tri-Star Vending, which according to the story brings in about $2 million in sales a year, and also earns $875 monthly for his council role.
But it was not a smooth ride to success. Yamauchi was born after his Japanese American parents had recently been liberated from an internment camp in Arkansas. They pushed him to excel academically, but he ended up choosing an early path in competitive bowling over school and dropped out of college.
"In my wildest dreams, as a kid, I never had thoughts of becoming an elected official," Yamauchi told the Times, adding that he finds it very satisfying. "If somebody has a pothole in their front yard or a tree is falling down, they call me. I get it done in two days."
His early attempts at investing in a cocktail lounge and a real estate were a bust and he went on to work in a casino in Commerce. That led to an opportunity in the vending business. Yamauchi ran with that and his business now "operates more than 600 machines and services almost 200 accounts, including Caltech and East Los Angeles College," according to the Times. A quarter of his employees are former gang members who have gone through the job training program at Homeboy Industries, and three are his own sons.