Categorized | Business, Featured

SBA 2010 awards winners honored in Hilo

Big Island SBA Award Winners

SBA District Director Jane Sawyer with award winners: Vicki Boening, Richard Boening, Dr. Alfred Mina, Nina Hasler, Derek Kurisu, Kawehi Inaba, Mitchell Dodo and Brent Norris. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Each year the Small Business Administration honors the most outstanding small firms in Hawaii to recognize their achievements and highlight the importance of small firms to a vibrant local economy.

Jane Sawyer, District Director of SBA, along with Governor Linda Lingle were on hand to present the awards Wednesday (April 21) at the Hawaii Island Small Business Awards in Hilo.

Small Business Person of the Year, County of Hawaii

Dr. Alfred Mina and Richard & Vicki Boening
East Hawaii Veterinary Center, LLC

Dr. Alfred Mina and Richard and Vicki Boening truly emulate the beliefs of care and compassion for animals and the art of veterinary medicine. At the East Hawaii Veterinary Center, they believe the best care of the health and wellness of the animal is from a lifetime approach with customized services developed to meet the individual pet’s needs. Their reputation for superior veterinary health care comes with the confidence of owners and pets alike, from all over the Big Island. In order to support pet owners affected by the challenging economic times, EHVC is providing discounts for pet care as well as educating pet owners of the importance of preventative care. In 2006 the center was staffed with three employees and now has three additional doctors and a team of fifteen staff members. The teams’ dedication and expertise have added to the steady revenue growth of the clinic. Nominated by Cheryl Octavio, Bank of Hawaii

SBA Family-Owned Business of the Year, County of Hawaii

Mitchell Dodo
Dodo Mortuary, Inc. and Crematory

Dodo Mortuary, Inc. and Crematory’s roots in Hilo originated in 1898 when Mitsugoro Dodo, an immigrant from Hiroshima, Japan, started building caskets after his three-year contract with the plantation ended. Since those humble beginnings, four generations of the Dodo family have tirelessly and compassionately catered to the burial needs of the Big Island community. Mitchell Dodo is that fourth generation. Employed since 1989, Mitchell has learned the trade from the ground up, always adhering to the virtues passed on from prior generations. His dedication to the community is buried in his involvement with a multitude of service organizations and he is also an advocate of issues that relate to the industry on a statewide and national level. Nominated by Gregory Ayau and Arthur Taniguchi, Bank of Hawaii

Home-Based Business Champion of the Year, State of Hawaii

Brent Norris
Green Collar Technologies

Operating Green Collar Technologies from his tree house home in Mountain View, Brent Norris is a committed advocate to home-based business and a sustainable lifestyle. This award-winning web professional works “off the grid” using cell towers and satellite for his communication needs and dedicates time to share his practices in going green and using the internet to start and grow a business. Relationships and partnerships with organizations like the local government, schools, trade organizations and non profits allow Norris to advocate a stronger digital economy. He has partnered with HTDC to deliver e-commerce training, with Hawaii County Research and Development on green job statistics, and Workforce Development to conduct “Green Jobs Day.” In 2008, he brought together small home-based businesses, government officials and the public for the first “Hawaii Island Sustainability Forum” which is now an annual event. Through Green Collar Technologies, Norris hopes to help others find financial security and go green to create a better life, a better community and a better world. Nominated by Stacey Chun Fat, Bank of Hawaii

Minority Small Business Champion of the Year, State of Hawaii

Derek Kurisu
KTA Superstore, Mountain Apple Brand

As Executive Vice President of KTA Superstores on the island of Hawaii, Derek Kurisu created the Mountain Apple Brand for locally produced goods to help displaced sugar workers who were transferring skills from plantation experience to small agricultural businesses. By using his marketing knowledge, business contacts and established distribution chain, he enabled 70 to 80 vendors to get more than 260 products to buyers in the local market. Kurisu provides guidance for business planning, packaging, labeling, pricing and other marketing information and ideas. With support from the UH College of Tropical Agriculture, he brings creative innovations to solve problems for individuals and industries including the local papaya farmers, cattle ranchers and dairy farmers. He is a key player in the “Buy Local” program with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the “Made in Hawaii Festival” and is a sought-after speaker for students, trades and business across the state. Nominated by Arthur Taniguchi, Bank of Hawaii

Financial Services Champion of the Year, County of Hawaii

Nina Hasler
Fiscal Fitness, LLC

In the 3 years Nina has lived in Hawaii, her dedication to her clients has helped her build a thriving business as a tax professional. Nina’s goal is to help small businesses become stronger and more efficient financially and stresses the benefits of working together and learning from each other’s knowledge and input. Nina has developed strong ties with various professionals within the local finance industry and through these relationships, she helps clients find the best-suited solutions to grow their business. As a volunteer, she provides workshops and teaches classes presenting new and potential clients with the tools they need to find success. Nominated by Amy Bircher, American Savings Bank

Women in Business Champion of the Year, County of Hawaii

Kawehi Inaba
Kupa‘a Business Partners, Inc.

Kupa‘a Business planners focuses on business planning, promotions and marketing, with the goal of helping business owners develop plans and strategies that include clear direction and objectives. Kawehi has been a professional woman and business owner for 20 years and has increased opportunities for women by hiring a “woman only” team for Kupa‘a Business planners. This decision created a sisterhood of professionals who depend on one another not only for their professional acumen, but also for the female support necessary to carry out their daily duties. Many of the women Kawehi mentored have gone on to found and lead enterprises of their own. Kawehi not only invests her time with companies that operate for profit, but also provides support to numerous philanthropic efforts.Nominated by Nick Sutton, American Savings Bank


Gov. Linda Lingle delivered the keynote address at the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Small Business Administration (SBA) Awards and General Membership Meeting.

The governor updated Chamber members on legislative initiatives as well as the Administration’s continuing efforts to create jobs, stimulate the economy, help small businesses, improve accountability in education and create a stronger future for the people of Hawaii.

Lingle also spoke about the need for state and county leaders to focus on economic growth and job creation as their top priorities, saying “Unless you can get the economy growing again, we won’t have the revenues coming in to address all the other issues that are so important to all of us.”

Each year, SBA honors outstanding small business owners, entrepreneurs and advocates who demonstrate the qualities, skills and performance to place them as leaders in their industry. Commendations signed by Lingle and Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona were presented to this year’s award-winning small-businesses.

Nominees for SBA Awards are evaluated on job creation, growth in annual revenue, innovation, staying power, response to adversity and contributions to their community.

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