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Commercial Real Estate | Form and Funtcion: Innovative
Uses of Southland Work Spaces

Personal Items Are Not Foul at Fish Firm

October 20, 1998|MORRIS NEWMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ernest Y. Doizaki disagrees with managers who forbid employees from displaying personal items at their desks. Indeed, the president of American Fish & Seafood Co. in downtown Los Angeles encourages his staff to surround themselves with things they like.

"People spend most of their waking time at work, and this work has some stress in it," he said of his business, which sells fresh and frozen fish to restaurants. Employees "should be comfortable here."

On this point, Doizaki leads by example: His own office, while orderly and tasteful, is chockablock with memorabilia. Perhaps the most notable object is a set of samurai armor, which his father bought 20 years ago.

"I fell in love with the samurai outfit," said nearby property owner and friend Doug Hinchliffe, a principal of Lowe Enterprises. The armor, he added, is "an appropriate metaphor for this neighborhood," making a sly reference to crime problems in downtown's industrial area.

A zebra skin, a gift from Doizaki's sister, emblazons the wall next to his desk, while a mounted antelope head, a personal trophy, hangs on the wall. A broken sake keg is a memento of the opening of the American Fish building in the downtown produce district. In keeping with Japanese custom, celebrants had smashed open the wooden keg.

Golf, another of Doizaki's passions, is celebrated by a pair of white leather golf bags, autographed by famed golfers Billy Casper and Fred Couples. A handsome wooden humidor protects a collection of rare cigars, reserved for special occasions, while a second humidor, out of public view, holds Doizaki's everyday stash.

A computer buff, Doizaki has surrounded his desk with a pair of monitors--one for his PC, the other for the office mainframe--and three security camera monitors. The setup has the look of a high-tech command central.

Beyond the memorabilia, Doizaki said his office reflects his style of doing business.

"You have to get things done, and you have to do them in a gentlemanly way," he said. Accordingly, he said, the office is "efficient but friendly."

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