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Hawaii’s Best Places to Work 2012

(page 5 of 5)

Small Companies

Constant Innovation Helps Make Work Fun

1 Hawaii Information Consortium LLC
U.S. headquarters: Olathe, Kan.

Employees: 24
Average annual pay: N/A
PTO days per year: N/A

Caryn Pang is fighting a head cold, but, despite the discomfort, she’s at work answering customer calls – and loving every minute.

Pang and the two other customer-service representatives at the Hawaii Information Consortium handle up to 200 calls, emails and online chats a day from people needing information about a government service.

“They have to force me to go home,” Pang says.

That says a lot about what it’s like to work for HIC. The company, with 26 employees, contracts with the state procurement office, which authorizes it to provide online access for almost 100 services from state, county and federal government that affect our daily lives. Each year, the company adds up to a dozen more services.

That means employees spend every working day thinking up new ways to make it easier and more efficient for people to get help from the government. A recent example: The company established an appointment system for people needing a state ID after filling out paperwork online. Before that, people had to stand in long lines waiting their turn.

“We’re constantly working to add services,” says HIC general manager Russell Castagnaro. “We come up with ideas and our partners in the state come up with ideas and we say, ‘Let’s go do it.’ ”

“We work really well as a team,” adds Pang. “I always feel like my bosses and my coworkers have my back if I need help. I know I can turn to them if I need support, not just for work support but personal support.

“People are so excited to have someone on the line who can walk them through something. And when they tell you how grateful they are, it feels really, really good.”

Employee satisfaction is also boosted by perks like company-paid gym memberships and college-course tuition, and matching payments for charitable donations. Employees take part together in sporting and charity events, hold baby or wedding showers for one another, all with the support of the management team.

“Our parent company is located in Kansas and the CEO, Harry Harrington, has established three things as the company ethic,” says Castagnaro. “1) This is the best place everyone has ever worked; 2) We’re the best partner any government has ever had; and 3) We’re giving the best returns for our investors.”


Finding Balance in Life and Work

2 Hawaii Human Resources (HiHR)
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 33 (Hawaii) / 34 (U.S.)
Average annual pay: $75,875 (salaried) / $29,025 (hourly)
PTO days a year: 10

Don’t believe the old saw that there’s no free lunch.

When you work at HiHR, there’s free lunch, free gym membership, free snacks, free coffee and free drinks. Your kids can do homework there after school or come all day if they’re sick. The company will support your favorite charity and give you paid time off to help it, and pay part of the tuition if you go back to school.

“We do it to take care of our people,” says president and CEO Matt Delaney. “For instance, we reimburse our staff $65 a month to do whatever fitness thing they want – get a personal trainer, join a gym, train for a 10K race. One gentleman stored up the money and bought a surfboard. We encourage the balance in life. It makes everyone happier and everything more reliable for our clients.”

Executive project manager Kellie James is thrilled to work there because she believes in the company’s mission of helping clients save money and because of the firm’s benefits. The perks enabled her to join a weight-loss program and Zumba classes for free, and work a flexible schedule.
“I enjoy waking up every day and knowing I’m going to work there."


Training Keeps Staff in Top Form

3 Wealth Strategy Partners LLC
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 40
Average annual pay: $65,000 (salaried)
PTO days a year: 15

Each morning, the 47-person staff at Wealth Strategy Partners goes through an hour of training so they are better able to serve their clients with financial services.

“Every single day, there’s new training, no matter how long you’ve been in the business,” says VP Marko Mijuskovic. “We invest a lot in our people, so our clients know what they’re getting.”

He says the five-year-old company also uses a structured team approach that ensures everyone is supported in being successful. “They’re not left hanging on their own,” he says.

Those are two of the many reasons Michael Van is happy he joined the firm three years ago, and says he sees it as a long-term career. “Some companies will train you for three weeks and let you loose,” says the financial specialist. “But this company believes you should always be learning. If we ask for help, we get it.”

All other small companies listed alphabetically

America's Mattress Hawaii
U.S. headquarters: Pearl City

Employees: 32 (Hawaii) / 34 (U.S.)
Average annual pay: $43,794 (salaried) / $27,655 (hourly)
PTO days a year: 10

The sleep-furniture retailer initiated a program to stimulate employee health and happiness. Employees choose an activity they want to do – like a gym membership or ballroom dancing classes – and the company reimburses them.


Baldridge & Associates Structural Engineering Inc.
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 22 (Hawaii) / 26 (U.S.)
Average annual pay: $67,163 (salaried) / $20,000 (hourly)
Vacation days per year: 12
Sick days per year: 5

BASE employees are encouraged to become LEED accredited, which is a green building certification. BASE will pay for tuition. It’s also a fun group, with a foosball table and large-screen TV used for big sporting events, offering breaks from a hectic day.


Edible Arrangements Manoa Marketplace
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 19
Average Annual Pay: N/A
Sick days per year: 3

Employees at the fruit gift-basket retailer enjoy a flexible schedule and camaraderie as employees hold potlucks or go out to restaurants for birthdays and other special occasions. Fruit waste from its operations is donated to Punahou School for making compost at the school’s garden.


EnviroServices & Training Center LLC
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 37
Average annual pay: N/A
PTO days per year: 14

The provider of environmental and occupational services has fun recreational activities like ping pong, billiards and air hockey at the office. The company shows appreciation for employees with ice cream parties, movie days and shiatsu massages. ETC regularly participates in community-service efforts, such as removing invasive algae from Maunalua Bay and fundraising for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief.


Gregory House Programs
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 20
Average annual pay: $34,000 (salaried) / $8,000 (hourly)
PTO days a year: 40

Gregory House Programs’ mission is to develop programs to meet the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, because housing is healthcare. They recognize employees by acknowledging them at staff meetings, handing out bonuses when the budget allows and celebrating with potluck lunches.


Grove Farm Co.
U.S. headquarters: Lihue

Employees: 15
Average annual pay: $102,875 (salaried) / $47,871 (hourly)
Vacation days per year: 15
Sick days per year: 10
Personal days per year: 1

One of the largest landowners on Kauai, Grove Farm celebrates with its employees in many ways, “typically with food and fellowship.” Some of the unique benefits include a fitness club (the company sponsors a fitness day once a week and eats lunch together), an on-site garden (where employees can raise vegetables and plants), and an all-expense-paid trip to a rural village in Africa for a service project with Global Hope Network International’s transformative community-development program.


Hawaii Families As Allies
U.S. headquarters: Aiea

Employees: 22
Average annual pay: $31,000 (salaried) / $28,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 10

Hawaii Families As Allies helps parents create meaningful family involvement, and supports its own employees by allowing them to take paid time off to attend school meetings for their children. The nonprofit recognizes its employees’ hard work by spotlighting them at quarterly staff meetings.


Hawaii Foodbank
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 33
Average annual pay: $50,516 (salaried) / $32,049 (hourly)
Vacation days per year: 5
Sick days per year: 5

The Hawaii Foodbank gathers food and support from the community and then distributes them to charitable organizations, so that no one goes hungry or without care. Employees are eligible for performance-based bonuses. After inventory days, the nonprofit provides lunch for employees.


Hawaiian Eye Center
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 36
Average annual pay: N/A
PTO days per year: N/A

All staff members at this eye doctor are invited to the company’s annual function, and all Neighbor Island employees are flown in. The company celebrates all successes, including throwing a pizza party if the company passes certain benchmarks.


Honolulu Board of Realtors
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 30
Average annual pay: $59,099 (salaried) / $40,058 (hourly)
Vacation days per year: 10
Sick days per year: 14
Personal days per year: 1

The Honolulu Board of Realtors supports its employees and their family situations. The trade association increased its sick policy from seven to 14 days since many employees take care of family members. HBR invests in staff development and will pay for seminars and trainings.


Hospice of Kona
U.S. headquarters: Kailua-Kona

Employees: 25
Average annual pay: $65,000 (salaried) / $60,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 15

If Hospice of Kona employees are celebrating birthdays or date-of-hire anniversaries, they receive $25 gift certificates. Professional days, such as Administrative Assitant Day or Nurse’s Week, are celebrated by the nonprofit. At monthly staff meetings, thank you cards and satisfaction surveys from the community are shared with all employees.


Imua Family Services
U.S. headquarters: Wailuku

Employees: 39
Average annual pay: $45,356 (salaried) / $23,003 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 20

Imua Family Services provides developmental and therapeutic support services to children up to 6 years old. To reward the entire team, the nonprofit will make an office purchase. For its 2010 Best Places to Work win, the company bought a Keurig coffee machine. Staff development is also important, and Imua has brought in national speakers.


Integration Technologies Inc. (Intech)
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 21
Average annual pay: $76,750 (salaried) / $50,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 10

Employees at the full-service IT provider have a full range of entertainment at the office, including board games, a pool table, a dart board and a Microsoft Xbox. Employees can also participate in 20% Projects, in which they choose a project to work on one day a week. Employees who deliver exceptional customer service can order items from Amazon that will make the office a more fun workplace.


It’s All About Kids LLC
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 21
Average annual pay: $65,000 (salaried) / $36,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 10

IAAK provides education technology for Hawaii schools. Employees are eligible for a monthly Pookela Award, a peer-voted outstanding achievement award. Every quarter, the President’s Award is given to an employee and is chosen by the executive staff.


Kahala Associates
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 32
Average annual pay: N/A
Vacation days per year: 5
Sick days per year: 5

This full-service, independent residential brokerage distributes bonuses and gives its staff the ability to become shareholders/owners. The company occasionally takes guests, staff and associates to the nearby Kahala Hotel and Resort.


KYA Design Group
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 28
Average annual pay: $60,000 (salaried) / $18,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 15

A full-service architectural design firm, KYA Design Group has a lot of unique benefits, including half-days two Fridays a month. The company also encourages transparency and has an open policy that keeps everyone informed of financial status and policy decisions.


Life Foundation
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 37
Average annual pay: $35,000 (salaried) / $35,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 25

Life Foundation is a nonprofit providing free services for those living with HIV/AIDS on Oahu, as well as free HIV testing and education for the community. Due to its work as a peer-based outreach system, Life Foundation is more than an Equal Opportunity Employer and actively hires Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, gay, bi-sexual and HIV-positive individuals to perform outreach to high-risk members of the community.


Maui Family Support Services Inc.
U.S. headquarters: Wailuku

Employees: 53
Average annual pay: $43,890 (salaried) / $21,565 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 24

Maui Family Support Services’ mission is to promote healthy family functioning, with a primary goal of preventing child abuse and neglect. After two years of service, additional paid-time-off certificates are awarded to employees, in addition to normal PTO days. The office is closed on Fridays to save electricity. On those days, staff can work from home, in the field or at the beach.


Pacific Administrators Inc.
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 47
Average annual pay: $53,707 (salaried) / $28,476 (hourly)
Vacation days per year: 10
Sick days per year: 5
Personal days per year: 3

At Pacific Administrators, employees who meet the company’s perfect attendance criteria for six months in a row are rewarded with $50 in cash. Employee social functions include quarterly movie days, picnics and holiday lunches. To relax in the office, there is a quiet room with five recliner massage chairs.


Pacific Biodiesel
U.S. headquarters: Kahului

Employees: 39 (Hawaii) / 40 (U.S.)
Average annual pay: $60,800 (salaried) / $45,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 15

Pacific Biodiesel produces biofuel, primarily from used cooking oil, and received the 2011 Green Jobs Award, one of only eight received in the U.S. A unique perk for employees is a fuel discount. Employees receive bonuses for every gallon of cooking oil collected over their quotas. Bonuses are distributed at the annual holiday party, with amounts based on tenure.


Pacific Resources for Education and Learning
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 49
Average annual pay: $76,800 (salaried) / $33,435 (hourly)
Vacation days per year: 18
Sick days per year: 12

PREL’s favorite way to recognize its employees is to have a party. Many of its staff members travel, so the opportunity to sit and spend time with other employees builds camaraderie. PREL also recognizes its staff with monetary awards, plaques and certificates.


T-Mobile dba U-Mobile LLC
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 22 (Hawaii) / 34 (U.S.)
Average annual pay: $60,000 (salaried)
PTO days per year: 10

The local T-Mobile phone dealer has given cash and product bonuses on almost a monthly basis, and employees can get discount phone service for up to three friends or family members. On the weirder incentive side, employees could shave the manager’s or even the company owner’s hair if they hit performance tiers.


T&T Tinting Specialists Inc.
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 25
Average annual pay: $67,380 (salaried) / $36,775 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 5

Employees at this window-film supplier and installer can take part in stand up paddleboard outings on Sundays. At the warehouse, employees can use the fitness room or play a game of basketball, or just relax during an occasional barbecue at the shop. The company also recognizes its employees’ creativity and has a formal process to try out employee ideas. If successful, the company will incorporate it into standard operating procedures.


Ventura Technology
U.S. headquarters: Waipahu

Employees: 16
Average annual pay: $31,000 (salaried)

Ventura Technology focuses on IT solutions for government agencies. It highlights employee achievements during its annual employee appreciation party and through its company newsletter. The company participates in at least three community-service projects a year, including helping out at Special Olympics or the American Red Cross.


Wakelight Technologies Inc.
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 34 (Hawaii) / 44 (U.S.)
Average annual pay: $84,692 (salaried) / $42,942 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 10

Wakelight provides services in communications engineering and support, information technology, management and technical service and HR support. At the office, not only do employees have windows, they’re encouraged to take advantage of ambient lighting during daytime hours to save energy. Wakelight acknowledges interests outside of the workplace. One employee acts in community theater, and the company organized and paid interested employees’ admissions.


Wealth Managing Partner Inc.
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 18
Average annual pay: $48,000 (salaried) / $48,000 (hourly)
PTO days per year: 7

The financial-planning firm has a profit-sharing program for employees. Employees love the flexible work schedule, great benefits and friendly working environment.


The Wedding Ring Shop
U.S. headquarters: Honolulu

Employees: 22
Average annual pay: $80,000 (salaried)
Vacation days per year: 5
Sick days per year: 5

The Wedding Ring Shop has an annual celebration dinner where the company recognizes its team for the year’s achievements. The company also holds unique events like “Heaven’s Kitchen,” where employees cooked up a meal and exhibited the company’s core values.



Attitude. We can teach the ins and outs of insurance, but we can't teach you to have a great attitude.
– Atlas Insurance Agency

Givers, not takers; people who place others before themselves.
– Austin Tsutsumi & Associates

People who work well with others and are valued by their peers for their efforts and contributions to the team.
– EnviroServices & Training Center

Empathy, compassion and sincerity. We have to connect with our families and someone who doesn’t have these traits will not gain the trust needed to successfully help them.
– Hawaii Families As Allies

Leadership abilities and fit with the organization.
– Honolulu Board of Realtors

We need people who can work well with each other and be dedicated to our cause.
– Life Foundation

Integrity, leadership, passion and a commitment to excellence.
– Swinerton Builders

Y&M employees need to be compassionate.
– Y&M Radiology

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Apr 27, 2012 10:17 pm
 Posted by  FriedRice

NYLife's retention rate goal of New Org Agents is 30 percent. They can't get to that number.

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