Henry Segerstrom, who took a lima bean field and developed it into a world-renowned retail center, is the classic example of an entrepreneur who built an empire out of nothing.
He wasn’t the first in his family with a pioneer spirit, though. The Segerstroms, who emigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1882, arrived in Orange County shortly before the turn of the century and settled on 40 acres of land in what is now southwest Santa Ana and north Costa Mesa.
By the mid-20th century, the Segerstrom’s lima bean and dairy farms had become nationwide suppliers, and the young Henry Segerstrom — who served in World War II and obtained a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University — started in agriculture when he joined the family business in 1948.
Segerstrom and his cousin Hal saw further potential in that farmland, and in the mid-1960s, the two of them founded South Coast Plaza.
While Hal Segerstrom died in 1994, his cousin became the face of South Coast Plaza to a number of retailers across America.
“South Coast Plaza has charted its own course,” Segerstrom said. “We’ve set our course where we want to go, and that’s to be the finest quality retail center in America.
“And South Coast Plaza today is recognized internationally for having that achievement.”