WAILUKU – The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Maui Chamber of Commerce honored the nominees and winners of the 2015 Mayor’s Small Business Awards on Thursday, February 26 at the King Kamehameha Golf Club.
The awards dinner was held in partnership with the Maui Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Silver Sponsors American Savings Bank and Maui Electric Company; Bronze Sponsors Bank of Hawaii, Employers Options, First Hawaiian Bank and Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union. Applications were scored by judges Debbie Finkiewicz, David Fisher, Richard Kehoe, Tom Leuteneker and Susie Thieman.
The awards were presented in six categories by Mayor Arakawa and Pamela Tumpap, President of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.
“Small businesses are a vital component of Maui County’s economy, and these awards celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in Maui County,” Mayor Arakawa said. “Business owners take many risks, work long hours and put their personal assets on the line to provide our community with goods and services, as well as much-needed employment. I congratulate each of this year’s nominees and winners, and wish them continued success.”
The 2015 winners were:
Young Small Business Person of the Year: Ginni Madsen, The Maui Mortgage Team
(Nominated by Clifford Wright of Control Freaks Hawaii)
Ginni Madsen owns her own mortgage business and runs a team of individual mortgage loan originators from her Kihei office. Recognizing that many fell on hard times during the recession, she offers 0 point packages where she gets paid upfront by the lender instead of on a commission based on how much she sells. Rather than trying to upsell her clients to increase her commission, Ginni helps people get loans that will save them money and are not beyond their financial means. She truly has a heart to help and genuinely wants to see people get out of debt faster. Ginni is great at communicating, is easily reached, and answers questions in a timely fashion so that clients know exactly what is happening with their mortgage. Additionally, she created the Maui Mortgage Minute on KPOA and KISS to provide the Maui community with tips on what they can do to help save on their mortgages and refinancing needs.
Outstanding Nonprofit Business of the Year: Lanai Community Health Center
Diana Shaw, Executive Director (Nominated by Aaron Fernandez of First Hawaiian Bank)
In 2012 Lanai Community Health Center’s (LCHC) patient count was 975; by the end of 2014, the patient count increased to 1,402 (a 44 percent increase in the past two years). LCHC is in the process of building their new facility, which is located in the middle of Lanai City. In addition, they have added many services to accommodate the needs of Lanai residents, such as Optometry and Physical Therapy. As the economic picture changes, LCHC adapts, covering services that make sense for Lanai City. For example, they provide services in the evenings and weekends to accommodate patients who work shift hours at the Four Seasons Hotels. They also provide services on a sliding scale to serve low-income residents and those who are uninsured or underinsured. Further, they have a low-cost medicine program to offer patients needed medication at $5/generic and $10/brand. They deliver quality holistic care aimed at the body and mind of their patients and their ‘ohana.
Exceptional Small Business of the Year (10 or fewer employees): Maui Sunseeker, LLC
Chuck Spence (Nominated by Alvin Santander of Bank of Hawaii)
Maui Sunseeker, LLC is the operating company for the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort that primarily caters to the discerning LGBT traveler, but welcomes all adults to its location in Kihei. In 2012, when Hawaii civil unions were legally offered to same-sex couples, the Sunseeker marketed its service and arranged over 60 civil unions that year, equating to 6 percent of all civil unions in the state. Since full marriage equality passed in 2013, the ‘Sunseeker’ markets Maui as the ultimate destination for same-sex weddings and honeymoons, even creating their own “Marriage is for Everyone; Say I Do on Maui” video. Their impeccable service and aloha spirit shared with guests has earned the resort TripAdvisor’s coveted Certificate of Excellence for four consecutive years and the resort enjoys 4.5 stars out of 5 thanks to rave reviews from customers.
Exceptional Small Business of the Year (11-35 employees): Rawlins Enterprises, Inc.
Shirley Rawlins (Nominated by Ku‘ulei Arce of Moloka‘i MEO Business Development Center)
Rawlins Chevron is a family business made up of (Aunty) Shirley Rawlins, her daughter Lori Lei Crivello, three other family members and hired employees, for a total of 20 employees. At the main entrance of Kaunakakai town, Rawlins Chevron is beautifully landscaped and shares the joy of upcoming holidays. They are a stop for food, gas, drinks, ice and chat before you head to the beach or head home and allow people to post notices of funerals and fundraising events, as Molokai gets much of its news form the “coconut wireless.” Customer service is very important to them and customers are always greeted with aloha. If it’s not too busy, they’ll also fill you in on the latest fishing catch or fundraising effort. Running a business on Molokai is tough, the cost of living itself is a struggle, but Aunty Shirley and Lori Lei are an awesome team that shows strong business leadership. They support school, community and sports events whenever asked.
Exceptional Small Business of the Year (36-100 employees): Maui Gold Pineapple Company
Darren Strand and Rodrigo Balala (Nominated by Leland Kahawai of First Hawaiian Bank)
With the help of many hands, including a handful of former Maui Land & Pine employees, Maui Gold Pineapple Company was born in January 2010 after Maui Land and Pine closed its pineapple operations in Hali‘imaile. They joined together to preserve the 100-year-old pineapple culture on the island. It is short of a miracle that five years later, this fledgling agricultural company continues to grow. Over 83 highly versatile and skilled workers remain employed and 1,200 acres of agricultural land and open space have been conserved. Over 50% of their current employees have been working in the pineapple industry for more than 30 years. The key to their economic success is attributed to the development of innovative new food processing technologies and mutually beneficial partnerships. The company’s dedication to their product and customer service does not end until the customer is entirely satisfied with the “best tasting pineapple in the world.”
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: Jennifer Brittin-Fulton, Exceptional, Inc. DBA Employers Options Maui (Nominated by Lester Nakamoto of Bank of Hawaii)
During the last 24 years, Jennifer Brittin-Fulton’s company, Employers Options, has placed thousands of people in permanent jobs. The company has changed many times over the years, but Jennifer really learned to listen to her clients in 2008-2009. Small businesses were seeking more efficiencies and savings from payroll and human resource services and listening allowed Employers Options to offer new solutions and become their trusted HR partner, tripling sales since then. Jennifer ensures that her team has the best training and technology tools available to do the best job possible. For the past ten-plus years, Employers Options has been selected as one of the “Top 25 Women-Owned Businesses in Hawaii” by Pacific Business News. Today, they employ over 1,000 people, are the fourth largest Women-Owned business in the state and the largest on Maui, and also one of Maui’s largest employers.
For more information on awards, grants and programs managed by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, visit www.mauicounty.gov/OED.