Founders & Visionaries - May 2011
Six companies with visionaries at the helm.
(page 2 of 6)
Jensen Galletes, Stanley Suen, Linda Fernandez, Warren Asing,
A Tradition of Fun that Spans Generations
Rain at the Punahou Carnival – a nightmare for the island tradition’s popular E. K. Fernandez Show’s rides and games – sparked an opportunity for second-generation proprietors Linda and Kane Fernandez in 1976. “As we shut down some rides and games, saw people start to leave and watched our hard-earned dollars drain down the gutters,” recalls president and CEO Linda Fernandez, “we looked at each other and said, ‘We need a business that operates on the inside’.”
Discovering a new kind of family entertainment operation with bumper cars and coin-operated games on the Mainland, the couple created a new “indoor carnival” – the first Fun Factory Entertainment Center – which opened in 1977 at Pearlridge Center.
After adding other locations throughout the islands, Linda successfully expanded the chain to the Mainland – one of only a few family-run Hawaii companies to do so. While Hawaii remains home base, with 12 Fun Factories in the state – eight on Oahu, 2 on Maui, one on the Big Island and one on Kauai – the company also operates seven centers on the Mainland, four in California and one each in Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana. Many of the locations feature fun and distinctive themes such as Jungle Fun and Island Fun that are tailored to the local market. Today, the chain continues to grow, with a new center planned later this year for Kauai.
(left to right) Linda, Warren and Donna on the carousel at
“While expanding our horizons, we’ve made mistakes, and even opened stores only to close them, but we learned and improved our company through it all,” says Linda. During the past 34 years, the company has employed over 25,000 people, including students and those needing a second job. To benefit Hawaii’s youth, E.K. Fernandez also gives back to the community, having provided $448,000 to 480 University of Hawaii students through the Fun Factory/University of Hawaii Scholarship and the Fun Factory Second-Year Scholarship programs, and has recognized thousands of younger students for good grades through the Fun Factory Honor Roll program.
“I particularly love getting letters from kids, saying, ‘Dear Mrs. Fun
Factory…We love you!’” says Linda. “They tell us we’ve done our job right. We know we have created lasting memories and this is an achievement to be proud of.”
Together with son Scott, who began running the carnival business after Kane’s death in 2001, Linda, who was raised in a successful, entrepreneurial Arizona family, continues the three-generation Fernandez family tradition of bold vision, pioneering innovations, calculated risk-taking and a business philosophy of strong work ethic, honesty and integrity.
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