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Success Stories

Toshihisa Aoki, Hawaii Fresh Products Inc., 2016 SBA Small Business Exporter of the Year, State of Hawaii

Hawaiian Fresh Products is a distributor of fresh Big Island papaya, packing and shipping the Rainbow and Kapoho Solo varieties of the fruit under nine different brands to destinations in Japan and the mainland U.S. Toshihisa Aoki, an immigrant from Japan, worked diligently to meet multiple challenges such as the GMO controversy, natural disasters with Hurricane Iselle and the Pahoa Lava Flow, and volatile freight costs. The savvy president has diversified, adding privately branded Kona coffee, ginger, and sweet potatoes to his export list.

In 2016, Toshihisa Aoki, representing Hawaii Fresh Products Inc., won SBA Small Business Exporter of the Year for the State of Hawaii. Nominated by Greg Ayau, Bank of Hawaii.

Pictured: Toshihisa Aoki.

Wayne Kamitaki, Lynn Ushijima, Paul Mizoguchi, Guy Kamitaki,  - Maui Varieties, Ltd. - 2016 SBA Entrepreneurial Success of the Year, State of Hawaii

Wayne, Lynn, Paul and Guy represent the 3rd generation of the Kamitaki Family to own and operate this thriving chain of craft and hardware retail stores across the State of Hawaii and on the West Coast. Maui Varieties, Ltd. was started 65 years ago with the purchase of a dry goods store in Kahului, then expanded through franchising. It is now known locally for its 28 Housemart Ace Hardware and Housemart Ben Franklin Crafts stores. Maui Varieties has created over 478 jobs, generated millions in revenues, and presented new   opportunities for staff and customers alike.

The company received SBA assistance in 2004 with a 504 Fixed Asset Loan to purchase their Kamuela store, stabilizing its operations and ensuring jobs on the Big Island.

In 2016, Wayne Kamitaki, Lynn Ushijima, Paul Mizoguchi and Guy Kamitaki, representing Maui Varieties, Ltd., won Entrepreneurial Success of the Year for the State of Hawaii. Nominated by Roberta Chu and Amy Honda, Bank of Hawaii.

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Catarina Zaragoza-Dodge, The Locavore Store, 2016 SBA Small Business Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Hawaii County

The Locavore Store in Hilo is a food hub, an emerging style of business focusing on the centralized collection and distribution of locally-produced food, particularly from small and medium-sized farms. Started in 2010 with just seven farms, the store now works with over 200 vendors and increased gross revenues 20 times over early sales. Owner Catarina Zaragoza-Dodge attributes the success of her venture to managing the steady growth, visually appealing displays and meticulous record keeping. Along with her husband, she demonstrates a real passion for Hawaii sourced, healthy foods and for supporting the local agricultural industry.

In 2016, Catarina Zaragoza-Dodge, representing The Locavore Store, won SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Hawaii County. Nominated by Judi Mellon, Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network.

Pictured: Catarina Zaragoza-Dodge.

Jason Stenger, Alpha Inc. 2015 SBA Young Entrepreneur, Maui County

In 2008, Jason Stenger established Alpha Inc., a construction company specializing in heavy civil site projects, water well drilling and pump installation, underground utility installation, excavation and grading and renewable energy. Now, he is 100% owner of a thriving enterprise with 25 employees and revenues increasing considerably year over year. This young small business owner attributes much of his success to his employees so he strives to establish a quality work environment, providing good wages, training, an apprenticeship program and generous benefits. He also gives back to community-oriented projects such as construction of the Hana Skate Park, the rope challenge course at Neighborhood Place of Wailuku, and wetlands restoration at Kawainui Marsh.

In 2015, Jason Stenger, representing Alpha Inc., won SBA Young Entrepreneur for Maui County. Nominated by Bard Peterson, First Hawaii Bank.

Pictured: Jason Stenger and the crew of Alpha Inc.