Maui Business

Entrepreneurs Share Success Stories at MBB Event

October 5, 2016, 8:23 AM HST
* Updated October 5, 8:29 AM
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Businesses from Hāna, Kula and Wailuku shared the stories of  their journeys to success at a recent dinner event.

The fourth annual Masters of Retail Success in Maui event was held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the Kahili Golf Course, where three local retailers and entrepreneurs sharing their business success stories.

Each had 30 minutes to share their challenges and tips for success. Toward the end of the program, all three were brought to the stage for a Q&A session.

Kahu David Kapaku emceed the program.

Maui Business Brainstormer’s signature event features stories by exemplars from the Maui business community who share their business knowledge and motivation with an audience of small business owners from across Maui.


The first speaker, Palani Alexander of Alexander Design and Remodeling, was born and raised on Maui. Growing up in the construction field with his father, Palani wanted to move in a different direction. He went to culinary school on the Mainland to be a chef, but eventually moved back to Maui to help his father with his construction business. Over the past ten years, Palani has


Over the past 10 years, Palani has expanded their operation into one of the 50 fastest growing companies in Hawai‘i, according to Pacific Business News.

Next, Glen Simkins shared his story of his transition from working as a chef at Michelin star restaurants to selling ice cream to tourists in Hāna’s rainforest.

A compelling speaker, he told the audience how he left the fiercely competitive world of Boston, moved to Maui and started selling coconut drinks, making $500 dollars a day. When the economy spiraled downward, he was suddenly making only $5 a day. Glen said that an angel then literally whispered to him “ice cream,” and that’s how Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream began. Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream can also be found in retail grocers.


Paula Hegele did not go to culinary school or work at Michelin star restaurants, but she and her spouse did take over the Tedeschi winery in ‘Ulupalakua 20-plus years ago with no previous experience. They learned quickly to wear many hats: corporate business executive, community leader, farmer, parent, local wine industry spokesperson and employer.

Today, Maui Wine exports wine all over the globe, sells in local stores, and has a wine-tasting venue at ‘Ulupalakua Ranch.

Each of these speakers has a never-give-up attitude.

When times got tough, they got tougher. And in their times of trial, they took the opportunity to reflect and reinvent their lives.

“Once again, MBB created a platform featuring three amazing business owners,” said MBB Organizer Nicole Fisher. “From them, we learned to never give up, to move down a new path once a roadblock persists and to be ourselves at all times. They reminded us that business owners should be very proud of our victories—both mini and mega.”

The evening began with recognition of the impact of the inclement weather the night before, which meant traffic, mudslides and evacuations for some of the attendees. Two MBB members and their families were evacuated from ‘Īao Valley (along with nine other families) on Tuesday night, as torrential rain and high stream levels created havoc. Several evacuees lost everything, but were grateful they made it out.

Attendees remembered them in thoughts and prayers during the evening.

Kahu Kapaku concluded the evening with thank yous to the presenting businesses, HI Small Business Development Center – Maui Center, SCORE Maui, Maui County Business Resource Center, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, A Big WOW Productions, Da-Lite, Kahili Golf Course, Trisha Anderson and Nicole Fisher for their part in making the Masters of Retail a remarkable event.


(Back row, left to right) Emcee Kahu David Kapaku, MBB organizer Grace Fung, and 2016 MRSM guest speakers: Palani Alexander of ADR HI, (front row) Paula Hegele of Maui Wine, and Glen Simkins of Coconut Glen’s. MBB photo.


MBB organizer Trisha Anderson welcoming the attendees to the 2016 MRSM on Sept. 14, 2016. MBB photo.


Attendees ready for dinner at the 2016 MRSM on Sept. 14, 2016. MBB photo.


Glen Simkins shares the story of Coconut Glen’s at the MRSM event on Sept. 14, 2016. MBB photo.


Paula Hegele shares the story of Maui Wine (Kula)at the 2016 MRSM on Sept. 14, 2016. MBB photo.


Image 6 Palani Alexander addresses a question about ADR HI (Wailuku)at the 2016 MRSM on Sept. 14, 2016. MBB photo.

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