Building a dream Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2008

Hiromitsu Ogawa had a vision. After working for Itel Containers for 12 years as vice president of marketing for Japan and Korea, he was ready to set out on his own, and he wanted to create the world’s foremost container leasing company.

He borrowed seed capital from a relative and founded CAI International Inc. in 1989. At the time, he had only three employees, including himself, and about 5,000 20-foot equivalent units of containers.

In the early stages, Ogawa didn’t pay himself a salary until the business became profitable enough to do so. In order to compete with large shipping companies and other container leasing firms, he used created financing, his experience in the industry and the relationships he had built at Itel. In 1998, he modified the company’s focus from the traditional container leasing to include container management, which gave him more financial freedom and garnered higher returns than traditional leasing companies.

In May 2007, CAI went public. Today, the company is one of the world’s leaders and is quickly growing. He’s grown what little he had in 1989 into 75 employees in 11 offices with 754,000 20-foot equivalent units of containers. On top of that, nearly one-third of the company’s revenue last year became profit.

As he looks toward the future, this chairman hopes to expand CAI by purchasing more conventional dry van containers and increasing its refrigerated containers fleet. Additionally, he will also look at acquiring smaller companies.

HOW TO REACH: CAI International Inc., (415) 788-0100 or