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Dawn Suyenaga & Jeffrey Dinsmore

Executive Mergers

Tucked away in the kitchen cupboards of Jeff Dinsmore and Dawn Suyenaga’s Kahala home is a rarely (if ever) used pasta maker. It is the sole remnant of Jeff’s manly attempt at registering for the couple’s wedding 10 years ago.

Jeff and Dawn, both in the real estate industry, have spent the past 10 years experimenting with recipes from their cookbook collection.

“She didn’t want to register because she didn’t think we needed anything, so I said ‘Well what if we want, like, a waffle maker or something?’” explains Jeff, who thereby took it upon himself to register the couple at Liberty House. “I went and picked out all the china and crystal, and we basically ended up getting all this stuff that we really didn’t need.”

Dawn concedes it was a lesson well learned, and now she makes sure to actively participate in all of the couple’s joint ventures – including tending to their two children, Emma, 15, and Alec, 6. “What can I say?” shrugs Dawn, senior vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel for Gentry-Pacific Ltd. “I’m more of a delegator.”

It’s a quality that Jeff, general manager of Victoria Ward Ltd., and Dawn’s husband of 10 years, attributes to Dawn’s background as an attorney, and one that he most certainly does not mind. “One of the best things about being married to Dawn is that she does make lists for me,” he says. “I never make lists. So we’re pretty much opposites in a lot of ways, but we also learn from each other because of it.”

They’ve learned a great deal from each other over the course of their 12-year relationship, which began when the two started working together at the Gentry Cos. – he in accounting and she in the legal department. Dawn admits to opening up more and realizing the importance of generosity, while Jeff says Dawn has taught him the virtue of patience.

“We’re not polar opposites, but we are different in a lot of ways,” he says. “I’m more gregarious, and to me, information is king. Dawn, she knows a lot, but – probably because she’s an attorney – she doesn’t like to share a lot. I’ve really had to learn not to be so forthright or aggressive.”

Being both in the business of real estate, Dawn admits to keeping privy most things work-related. “He’s right,” she admits, “we are very different in communication and work styles. But we also share most of the same values – and that’s what makes it work.” They both admit that no one individual wears the pants in this relationship. Rather, he plays the role of the brazen actor, outgoing and constantly in the mix of things, whereas she remains behind the scenes, making things happen – the producer/director, if you will.

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Hawaii Business,December