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Kauaians win SBA national award

In the first year that the Small Business Administration has given out awards for family-owned businesses, a Hawaii business has won the top honor in the nation in this category.

Walter “Kamika” Smith is the third generation of his family to run Smith’s Motor Boat Services. The business, founded in 1946, operates Kauai’s popular Wailua River cruises. It employs 140 people, 15 percent direct descendants of the founder.

He will go to a national SBA ceremony in the nation’s capital.

Other family-owned business winners in Hawaii:

  • Third-generation North Shore farmers Clyde Fukuyama and Melvin Matsuda, who combined their operations and now jointly grow papayas, watermelons, eggplant, mangoes and apple bananas;
  • Marty and Carole Kahn, who opened their first Kauai store in 1975 and survived every calamity from flood to fire to employ 30 in six shops;
  • The owners of Maui’s King Diesel, Bob and Kelly King, now finding workable ways to make a business using cutting edge biodiesel technology.

Small Business of the Year

Aloha Machine & Welding of Hilo won top Small Business in Hawaii. This $3 million-a-year business was founded by three men just when their working lives were at their lowest points.

Dennis Matsui, Modesto Revilla Jr. and Robert Acasio were facing layoff from the sugar industry when they bought a small machine shop in 1993 that hired mostly laid-off sugar workers.

Gov. Linda Lingle, who attended the ceremony Tuesday at the Sheraton Waikiki, said she met Matsui, Reville and Acasio the day before in Hilo and described hearing their story as a chicken-skin moment.

“And remember, they built their business in the ’90s!” she said, referring to a period when the Hawaii economy was in a bad slump, especially in Hilo.

More awards:

Chad Buck of Hawaii Foodservice Alliance LLC won Small Business Person of the Year for Honolulu; on the Big Island the award went to Rodney Inaba, founder of Kamuela Kayaks.

For the third year, John Dickinson of American Savings Bank was the top SBA lending officer of the year; Jeff Murata and Dean Duque of First Hawaiian Bank won gold honors for Kauai and Maui, respectively, while the gold awards for the two sides of the Big Island went to Christie Dermengian and Roxanne Uyetake, both of Bank of Hawaii. Bankoh and Central Pacific Bank won the organizational lending honors for large and midsized banks, respectively.

Still other awards:

  • Financial Services Champion Award: Jeffrey Au, PacificCap Group (statewide); Blenn Fujimoto, Central Pacific Bank (Oahu).
  • Women in Business Champions: Saedene Yee-Ota (statewide), Alice Moon (Big Island), Lynn Araki-Regan (Maui).
  • Minority Small Business Champions: Olin Lagon (state and regional winner), Kim Abramson (Maui), Mark Tagawa (Oahu).
  • Small Business Exporter Award: Carole Baguio, Pacific Hawaiian Music Corp.
  • Small Business Journalists Award: Lincoln Jacobe, Pacific Technology Foundation (state and regional winner), Jacy Youn, Hawaii Business (Oahu), Joseph Warner Bean (Maui).
  • The SBA administration’s awards for excellence as subcontractors went to Steven Baldridge, Kelvin Osborne, Austin Nakoa and Jingbo Chang.
From Pacific Business News
 by Howard Ditcus

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