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SBA Names Hawaii’s Best Small Businesses for 2017

Maui Brewing Company Takes State of Hawaii’s Top Honors in Prestigious SBA Awards
Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Release Number: 
HDO 17-20
Jane Sawyer:

Honolulu – The U. S. Small Business Administration is pleased to announce the Hawaii winners of the prestigious 2017 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 during Small Business Week.   

“The SBA Small Business Awards shine a bright light on the skill, innovation and drive of small businesses in our State.  The 2017 winners clearly show the creativity, and the tenacity needed to compete and thrive in today’s markets,” 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. I invite you to join the celebration at the 30th Annual Statewide SBA Awards on May 4 in Honolulu. The stories will inspire you.”

Honored as the 2017 Small Business Persons of the Year for the State of Hawaii are Garrett Marrero and Melanie Oxley Of Maui Brewing Company.  

Founded in 2005 as a small brewpub and restaurant in Kahana, Maui Brewing has experienced amazing growth, expanding production of their locally made craft beer to 100,000 barrels brewed at their state of the art facility in Kihei.  Marrero and Oxley maintain their strong commitment to use local ingredients in their premium products such as Bikini Blond and Big Swell IPA and seasonal favorites as well, supporting a network of Hawaii farmers and value added producers. With new restaurant and brewpubs opening in the next year, Maui Brewing will have created more than 700 jobs and business growth opportunities across the State. 

As the top small business in Hawaii, Maui Brewing will represent Hawaii in the national competition in Washington, D.C. as SBA kicks off National Small Business Week on April 30- May 1.

Top small business owners were also selected to represent each of the counties in this very competitive category.   The 2017 winners of the SBA Small Business Person of the Year Awards for the Counties are:

  • On Oahu, Brooke Watson and Shyrah Maurer, co-owners of Soha Designs dba Soha Living, the popular, locally inspired design retailer, took the title of Small Business Person of the Year for the City and County of Honolulu.
  •  John and Kristina Ferguson, owners of Kalaheo Coffee Company, a favorite dining destination serving Breakfast, lunch and dinner to locals and visitors alike, were chosen as the Small Business Person for Kauai County.
  • The County of Maui is represented by Mark Harmer, president of Harmer Radio and Electronics in Kahului, a 30 year old firm delivering high quality services, repair and sales in two way and wide area digital radio systems.
  •  Brendan Roberts and Kela Cosgrave, founders of Big Island Booch, Inc. in Hilo were named Small Business Person of the Year for Hawaii County.  Started in 2013, Big Island Booch produces a variety of kombucha flavors that are sold in their small café and in more than 108 stores across the State.

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

A special Small Business Advocacy Award with SBA Hawaii is the Makana Ho’okono Ke Ola” for a successful business owner that has had an extraordinary impact and created a strong legacy of supporting economic vitality, small business growth, and exemplifies the best practices in business and community.  The 2017 Award for Lifetime Legacy is presented to Edmund Olson, of the Edmund C. Olson Trust II for his vision to preserve Hawaii’s agricultural, cultural and environmental heritage.

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 2017 State of Hawaii winner is J. Terry Mullen, the second generation owner of kamaaina company John Mullen and Associates, an insurance adjusting agency with 89 employees across the State including daughter Sara. 

Other Family Owned Business winners are:

  • County of Maui Aina Excavation and Grading, Inc. is operated by the Santos Family with Joseph, Earlette Santos Vida, Reed and Frank Santos in key roles in this family operation.
  • County of Hawaii –  Shon Pahio is the second generation president of HMP Inc, dba Business Services Hawaii, a waste management firm started by the Pahio family in 1985.
  • City and County of HonoluluFor the last 51 years, Oka’s Auto Body in Waipahu, has specialized in auto collision repair with integrity and customer service, a tradition that continued when the Family Owned Business transferred ownership from parents to the next generation including Marlo Rie Vincenti, Kyle Okahara and Brandon Okahara.

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 2017 is Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts, an award winning Kauai based company started by Laura Cristobal Andersland in 2008.

A second exporter, James “Jimmy” Chan, the general manager and owner of Hawaiian Chip Company, a manufacturer of sweet potato and taro chips and the tasty Kilauea Fire sauces that are in demand throughout the state, U.S. mainland and in Japan claimed the title of the City and County of Honolulu.

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 35 at the time of the award.   

The State of Hawaii Young Entrepreneur award will be presented to Patrick Gesik, D.P.T, the dedicated founder of Gesik Physical Therapy, a fast growing clinic in Honolulu in 2013, creating 9 new jobs, and providing rehabilitation and pain relief to hundreds of patients.  

  • County of Hawaii – In 2011, talented Young Entrepreneur, Tia Yamanaka opened The Boutique Hilo on Kamehameha Avenue, an inspired shop for contemporary women’s fashion. Her continued success with the retail establishment earned the 2017 award.
  • County of Maui -  Brian Bower took the helm of a struggling Artistic Builders Corporation on Maui in 2008, managed an incredible turnaround that doubled the employee count and increased revenues.
  • City and County of Honolulu –  Phillip Hasha, principal of the Redmont Group LLC, created a full service, one stop shop real estate firm for real estate owners.

The 2017 SBA Small Business Advocate for Business and Industry is Christine Camp, CEO of Avalon Development Company LLC.   As a landlord and developer of commercial properties and industrial property, Camp has designed opportunities for small businesses and provided special assistance with business planning and financial proposals to facilitate financing, certifications or benefits and is an visible and proactive community leader.

The Small Business Advocate for Financial Services 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 2017 State of Hawaii Financial Services Champion honors Reg Baker, Managing Member of Reg Baker CPA, LLC, for his dedicated support to small businesses.  Baker is frequently involved in business training and consulting and serves on SBA’s Regulatory Reform Board, with the Chamber of Commerce, and others.

Dennis Boyd, the Director for the Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network’s West Hawaii Office was chosen as the Small Business Advocate for Financial Services for the County of Hawaii in recognition of his work to identify and secure financial resources for new and expanding businesses.

The 2017 Small Business Advocate for Media & Journalism is a well-known voice throughout the state.  Sherry Bracken with Mahalo Broadcasting and Hawaii Public Radio was selected for her far reaching impact and efforts to impact the public with relevant news reporting.

The 2017 SBA Minority Small Business Advocate 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 Maria Etrata of Preferred Home and Community Based Services.

The Maui County SBA Minority Small Business Advocate is David Daly, the director of the Business Development Center at Maui Economic Opportunity, providing training and small loans to new businesses to the underserved community on Maui.

For the City and County of Honolulu, Helen Wai, owner of Helen N. Wai, LLC, was named the SBA Minority Small Business Advocate for her commitment to work with small business owners and consumers to understand the management of their credit, financial affairs and assets in life and in business.   

These exceptional small business owners, advocates and leaders from across the islands will be honored at the 30th Annual Statewide SBA Small Business Awards Luncheon on May 4, 2017 at Pomaikai Ballroom at Dole Cannery.   This celebration of small business in Hawaii is hosted by Hawaii Business and many leading local sponsors.  Reservation information is available at  and click on events.

Contact the Hawaii District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration at (808) 541 2990 for more information on the SBA Award winners and the Hawaii District Office programs.


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