Categorized | Business

SBA names Hawaii’s best small businesses for 2013


The U. S. Small Business Administration has announced the Hawaii winners of the prestigious 2013 SBA Small Business Awards. Each year, SBA honors outstanding small business owners, entrepreneurs and advocates who best illustrate the important contributions of small business to a vibrant local economy and thriving community.

“The SBA Small Business Awards shine a bright light on the skill, innovation and drive of small businesses in our State. The 2013 winners clearly show tenacity, creativity, and the resourcefulness needed to overcome adversity,” said District Director Jane Sawyer of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “These business owners demonstrate the best of Hawaii and the promise for the future.”

Honored as the 2013 Small Business Persons of the Year for the State of Hawaii are David Yogi and Dr. James Kwong of Yogi Kwong Engineers, LLC, an innovative geotechnical engineering firm founded in 2005 to provide state of the art technology design and construction management.

The company has established a worldwide reputation as leading experts in trenchless excavation. Despite the tough economic environment, the firm has continued to show significant increases in revenues annually and employs a staff of 40 including top engineering professionals.

Top small business owners were also selected to represent each of the counties in this very competitive category.

The winners are:

* On Oahu, Dr. Patrick Sullivan, CEO of Oceanit Laboratories, took the title of Small Business Person of the Year for the City and County of Honolulu.

* Beatrice Allen of Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Lounge was chosen as the Small Business Person for Kauai County.

* The County of Maui is represented by Brandon LaBonte, CEO of Ardent Management Consulting, a growing software development firm with 55 employees in Kihei.

* John and Nancy Edney of Tropical Dreams Ice Cream and Lalamilo Farms in Kamuela were named Small Business Person of the Year for Hawaii County.

Along with these noteworthy businesses, other business owners and champions in nine categories are being honored for their accomplishments and business acumen:

SBA’s Entrepreneurial Success Award honors an entrepreneur whose venture began as a small business and, with SBA assistance, has grown into a flourishing enterprise and is no longer considered “small”. The State of Hawaii award went to Allan Ikawa of Big Island Candies, a Hilo based specialty food manufacturer and retailer known worldwide for quality, creativity and innovation showcasing the best of Hawaii. Also recognized for exceptional achievement in this category for the City and County of Honolulu is Peter B. H. Kim, president of the restaurant corporation PBHK, Inc., operating Yummy Korean BBQ, Lahaina Chicken Company, Mama’s Spaghetti House, Cheeseburger Factory, Steak and Fish Company, and more.

The Family Owned Small Business Award recognizes a small business with at least a 15 year history that has been owned and operated by the family, creating jobs, increasing revenues and providing opportunities for other family members.

The 2013 State of Hawaii winner is Sterling Kaya, the second generation owner and operator of Hana Pa’a Fishing Company, providing fishing, spearfishing and diving gear at locations in Kalihi and Pearlridge Center.

Other Family Owned Business winners are:

* County of Maui – Georgia Keenan-Abilay & Michael P. Dupree, owners of the Blue Ginger Cafe & Bakery in Lanai City.

* County of Hawaii – Colin Nakagawa of the family owned Seaside Restaurant, an icon in the Hilo community for the past 90 years.

* City and County of Honolulu – Allen Woo, President of Manson Products Company, who has been at the helm of this local produce wholesaler started by his father, Manson, with a single truck, for the last decade.

The Small Business Exporter Award is presented to a small business that derives a significant portion of their sales from export outside the U.S. and is supportive of other efforts to export U.S. made products and services. The State of Hawaii Small Business Exporter of the Year for 2013 is FSC Architects, an award winning architectural and planning firm specializing in hospitality design and mixed use development led by principals Jim Freeman, Ralph Shelbourne and Benjamin Candari.

Other export honorees include:

* County of Kauai – Robert Gunter, president of Koloa Rum in Kalaheo, Kauai that has opened markets for their award winning Hawaii made spirits in Canada, across the U.S. and soon in Asia.

* County of Hawaii – Greg Colden of Kona Natural Soap Company whose aromatic soaps made in Keauhou reach consumers in Canada, Japan, Brazil and Russia.

* City and County of Honolulu – Frank James Lyon, president of Lyon Associates, LEED certified engineer with successful projects throughout the Pacific, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

The SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award identifies an individual who has successfully owned and operated a small business, increasing revenue, jobs, and demonstrating potential for long term success for at least three years before reaching the age of 30 at the time of the award.

The State of Hawaii Young Entrepreneur award will be presented to Billy Giang, President of Pho Factory & Saigon Garden, a takeout restaurant specializing in healthy Vietnamese cuisine at the Makai Market at Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Also awarded for:

* County of Kauai – Colby Lopaka Ayonon, owner of Kauai Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Inc. in Kapaa

* County of Hawaii – William Bierman, president of Omega Computers in Keauhou, a full service IT consulting firm.

* City and County of Honolulu – Kristin Kato, owner and artist of A Cake Life, the creator of special occasion confections based in Honolulu

The Financial Services Champion Award is presented to those individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to increasing access to capital, reducing regulatory burdens and helping small businesses improve their financial conditions through assistance, legislative support and other advocacy.

The State of Hawaii Financial Services Champion honors Robert S. Kawahara of Kawahara + CO, CPA, who won this title for his strong advocacy and support to small business owners by going beyond the standard accounting and tax assistance.

* City and County of Honolulu – Frieda Takaki, CEO of CHART Rehabiliatation, a leading advocate to sustain jobs in small businesses through Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

The Minority Small Business Champion title is awarded to those individuals who have selflessly provided assistance and support to minority entrepreneurs and business owners.

The highly deserving State of Hawaii award winner in this category is Jose Villa, president of Latin Business Hawaii, the active Hispanic chamber of commerce, and publisher of Hawaii Hispanic News.

Villa also operates a consulting firm to assist small business owners with business plans, grant proposal and minority business certifications.

Also recognized in this category are:

* County of Kauai – George Costa, Kauai County’s Director of Economic Development for his solid support of business and economic development on the Garden Island.

* County of Maui – Thomas Chou, the multilingual owner of Rainbow Tax and Financial Services, whose unique skills and dedication help overcome gaps in language and business knowledge.

* County of Hawaii – Kari Waldhus, exceptional business coach, advocate and owner of the Entrepreneurs Source.

* City and County of Honolulu – Rich Richardson, Executive Director of the Hawaii Academy of Performing Arts, for dedicated efforts to establish a vibrant sector of entrepreneurial artists who thrive in our community.

Fulfilling a great need across the nation, the Veteran’s Small Business Champion Award recognizes the dedication and support provided by an individual to assist our armed service veterans to start and grow businesses through advocacy, technical assistance and access to resources.

As the 2013 Veteran Small Business Champion for the State of Hawaii, Leslie Wilkins, the energetic vice president at Maui Economic Development Board has expended her reach and influence far beyond the shore of the Valley Island.

Her work provides resources and advocacy to support to Veterans transitioning from the active duty to new roles in civilian life.

The Women in Business Champion award goes to those individuals who, as advocates, have fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership and who assist and support women in their quest to own, manage and direct their own company.

The State of Hawaii champion is Naomi Hazelton-Giambrone, co-owner of Element Media, a true connector for women business owners with mentors, leaders, and ideas across the business community.

* County of Hawaii – Laura Kinoshita, a hands-on innovator who uses media and advocacy to help women, business and community and the owner of Kinoshita Communications

* County of Maui – Linda Okamoto, of Okamoto Realty in Lanai City, who has long fostered an environment to support the advancement of women through education, volunteerism and leadership.

The Home Based Business Champion Award acknowledges the contributions and possibilities of the growing home based business segment of the economy. Winners of this award have the experience of operating a home based business and have demonstrated their advocacy and awareness of the challenges for home based businesses.

The State of Hawaii Home based Business Champion is Craig Swift, the director of Maui Economic Opportunity Business Development Division.

Other champions honored in 2013 with this award include:

* County of Hawaii – Joan and Warren Chong, partners in Chong Enterprises, for their support of the small business sector through links to legal support, effective networking and mentoring.

These exceptional small business owners, advocates and leaders from across the islands will be honored Feb. 28 at the 26th Annual Statewide SBA Small Business Awards Luncheon on Feb. 28 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This gala event is hosted by Hawaii Business and many leading local sponsors.

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