Maui News

Coffee & Beer Float to Top at Sm. Business Awards

October 26, 2009, 10:36 AM HST
* Updated October 26, 10:40 AM
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A handful of small business owners, volunteers and non-profits were honored for their success on Maui.  The list of winners was announced at the Mayor’s 2009 Small Business Awards event.

Among those recognized were James Kimo Falconer and Maui Grown Coffee for the Small Business of the Year with 10 or fewer employees; Wes Freiwald and Pacific Defense Solutions for Small Business of the Year with 11-50 employees; Garret Marrero with Maui Brewing Company for Young Business Person of the Year;  Robert King with Pacific Biodiesel for Lifetime Achievement Award; David B. Fisher for the Mayor’s Community Service Award; and Jim Sanders of Jim Sanders Realty for Non-Profit Angel Award.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced the winners of the 2009 Mayor’s Small Business Awards at the “1930s to 2009, Looking Back – Moving Forward” dinner held Friday night, October 23, 2009, at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Winners received a Haunani Mine koa-framed commemorative award, certificate of recognition and window decal. The event was sponsored by Central Pacific Bank and numerous other supporters of small business.

“The selection committee for this year’s awards faced a daunting task, since all of the finalists were outstanding. It’s no small feat to succeed in today’s economy, and I commend each of the finalists for their achievements,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “This year’s award winners are exceptional, and our County is proud of business leaders such as these who are leading the way to economic recovery. They work hard at being successful and they care about the community they do business in. They are remarkable in their efforts to promote local goods and services beyond our island’s shores and for their dedication to keeping Maui no ka oi.”

The winners are as follows:




MauiGrown Coffee, James “Kimo” Falconer

James “Kimo” Falconer was employed as the Agricultural Research Director for Pioneer Mill Co. for over 20 years. Kimo entered the coffee business and restored fields of the former Kaanapali Coffee Farms starting MauiGrown Coffee, Inc. with startup funds from home equity loans and small business grants. In 2006, MauiGrown Coffee opened a retail store on Lahainaluna Road. Kimo and landowner Kaanapali Land Management Corp. worked together to restore the soil for crops. In 2008 MauiGrown Coffee harvested 293,000 lbs. of green coffee beans, more than four times the production of prior years. The 2009 crop is projected to exceed that figure with an estimated yield of 350,000 lbs. MauiGrown Coffee is the only producer worldwide of 100% Maui-origin coffee, considered by many to be world-class cupping quality. Markets are open in Hawaii, the mainland, Canada, Europe, Japan and soon in China. MauiGrown Coffee has five dedicated employees provided with a profit-sharing plan so they will benefit with the growth of the business. Kimo is president of Friends of Moku’ula and past chairman of the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission; he is also the director of the West Maui Soil & Water Conservation District. — Nominated by Duke Wilson of Kaanapali Trolley Co.



Pacific Defense Solutions LLC, Wes Freiwald

Pacific Defense Solutions, LLC (PDS) was launched with the intention of building a Maui-grown company that would diversify the local economy within the high-tech sector, attracting and retaining a local, qualified workforce in high-paying science and technology careers. PDS develops technology that focuses on the inventory and location of manmade objects in space, and is currently exploring roles in renewable energy. PDS, which has built a team of experts who address complex technical issues for the U.S. Department of Defense, also develops processes for nonmilitary and commercial uses, creating software products available to everyone. Despite the current economic climate, this young company has grown from three founders in 2006 to 21 employees. Of these, 19 were hired locally. The founders of the company include Wes Friewald, president and CEO, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Maui Economic Development Board and is a director and conference chair to the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conferences. He served on the Kihei Community Association and is the founder of the Maui Inline Hockey Association. Wes was recognized by the Maui News as one of the “People Who Made A Difference” in Maui County in 1997. — Nominated by Jeanne Skog, Maui Economic Development Board, Inc.


Garret Marreo, Maui Brewing Company

Garret Marrero of Maui Brewing Company has created an award-winning brewery that has grown more than 150% in the past two years, now employing 42 employees at its brewpub and cannery. After a remodel last summer, the pub is naturally lit and uses about 40% less electricity. Maui Brewing Company uses genuine Hawaiian products and local ingredients, serving Maui Cattle Co. meat and locally-grown vegetables and herbs. The packaging of choice is cans, manufactured on Oahu and designed by Maui artists. As a certified scuba-diver, Garrett was keenly aware that the four or six-pack rings that hold together most canned products pose a risk to marine life, so he developed recyclable cardboard packaging for Maui Brewing Company products. Additionally, all spent vegetable oil from the brewpub is converted to biodiesel to run the company’s vehicles; spent grain from beer production is donated to local ranchers for cattle feed; and any damaged cans are donated to the Maui Humane Society for recycling fundraising. Maui Brewing Company continues to operate the brewery production 100% on Maui. — Nominated by Anita Lum, Vida Loca Solutions


Robert “Bob” King, Pacific Biodiesel Inc.

Bob King has been a business owner in the County of Maui since 1980 when he started King Diesel. Bob’s business became the Cummins Engine dealership for Maui County and won major contractual jobs around Hawaii. In 1996, Bob’s experience with diesel technology led him to venture into the realm of renewable energy. While servicing the landfill generators, he learned that the disposal of used cooking oil was a serious problem. The waste could not be composted and on occasion caused fires, posing a possible threat to groundwater. Bob developed a cutting-edge solution to this serious waste disposal issue by using his personal savings and private investor funds to found the first commercial biodiesel business in the U.S. After starting the plant, Bob expanded Pacific Biodiesel to facilities on Oahu, Oregon, Texas and Japan along with the technology division and exported the biodiesel process technology. Bob’s efforts are the focus of the independently-produced documentary film, Revolution Green, and he has been recognized by the U.S. department of Energy and the National Biodiesel Board as an industry pioneer. Pacific Biodiesel is the first biodiesel processing plant in the Pacific Rim, and the first retail biodiesel pump in the U.S. The Maui plant annually produces up to 2 million gallons of premium fuel for diesel engines, while diverting from the landfill over 5,000 tons of used cooking oil and grease trap oil. Bob has reinvested company profits to further research new feed stocks and technological improvements. He is committed to educating community groups, businesses, and political leaders on the benefits of establishing sustainable community-based biodiesel operations. He served as a two-term chair on the State of Hawaii Environmental Council and is the co-founder of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the developing practices for sustainability in the U.S. Biodiesel Industry. Pacific Biodiesel has received multiple global and local awards under Bob’s leadership including the United Nation’s Blue Sky Award, the Hawaii Governor’s Innovation Award, and the Green Tech Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Bob runs Pacific Biodiesel full-time and also is a volunteer contributor to the County’s efforts to develop a master plan for renewable energy. — Nominated by Larry Zolezzi


David B. Fisher

David Fisher (center) receives the Mayor's Community Service Award from Mayor Charmaine Tavares (L) and Economic Development Coordinator Deidre Tegarden (R). Photo by: Sheryl Saphore Photography

David Fisher (center) receives the Mayor's Community Service Award from Mayor Charmaine Tavares (L) and Economic Development Coordinator Deidre Tegarden (R). Photo by: Sheryl Saphore Photography

David Fisher has been providing business advice through the Hawaii Small Business Development Center (SBDC) since 1990, when he taught the first Internet classes on Maui. In 1994 he created one of the first websites on Maui, which was also the first website of any Small Business Development Center in the nation. David began nurturing both start-ups and clients through the business incubator when it opened at the Maui Research & Technology Park in 1992, and offered a regular “Starting a Venture” course for more than 16 years. David has been a partner of the Maui County Business Resource Center and has taught classes and worked within the small business community since the center opened in 2004. David now has his own consultancy businesses called MauiVenture Consulting LLC and plans to stimulate some “cool” projects – hence the name of his blog: He plans to expand by bringing in collaborators and offering video tutorials and other online learning tools. In 1999, David was named Maui’s Minority Small Business Advocate, as well as State Financials Services Champion 2006 in the annual recognition by the Small Business Administration. Over his career, David estimates he has worked with more than 3,000 entrepreneurs to create more than $100 million in economic impact for Maui.


Jim Sanders of Jim Sanders Realty

Since 2004, Jim Sanders has helped raise, directly and indirectly, over $90,000 for A Keiki’s Dream, with Jim Sanders Realty team helping to raise approximately 25% of program’s funds for the past six years. Jim donates time, talent and funding to the arts and to efforts to provide for the well-being of children, and he has been recognized by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center as a loyal and generous supporter. Mana’o Radio’s Kathy Collins says the difference between other donors and Jim Sanders is that Jim didn’t wait to be asked. “He approached us and said, ‘I like what you’re doing, how can I help?'” Even during this challenging economy, Jim continues to support the arts out of a desire to give back to the island he loves. — Nominated by Darby Gill of A Keiki’s Dream

Other nominees were: Small Business, 10 Employees or Fewer– Drs. Lee & Leong OD, LLC, Karsten Lee, Michael Leong; Maui Golf & Sports Park, Stephanie Weisel; and Maui TV News, Jeff King. Small Business, 11 – 50 Employees– Dunes at Maui Lani, David Gleason; Island Honda, Anne Oishi; Maui Brewing Co., Garrett Marrero; and The Maui Closet Company, Debbie Finkiewicz. Young Business Person of the Year– Andrew Crawford, Bevinco Maui; Danoucha Starkweather, Danoosha Designs; Frank “Palani” Alexander II, Alexanders Kitchens and Baths LLC; and Leo Kaniela Caires, Maui Energy Co. Lifetime Achievement Award– David Gleason, Dunes at Maui Lani; Mana Foods- Ed & Theresa Thielk, Christine Ozee, Sunette Fenn; and Wayne “Wayno” Cochran, Maui Surfboards. Non-Profit Angel Award– Envisions Entertainment & Productions, Inc.; and Patrick Young Painting, LLC.

The Mayor’s Small Business Awards originated in 2004 as a way to recognize outstanding small businesses in Maui County. The event was hosted by emcees and TV personalities Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula, with keynote speaker Jade Moon.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information Provided by the County of Maui)

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