These executives run some of Hawaii's best known companies. We uncover what they do when they're not working.
Mike Wilkins, director of sales and marketing, Turtle Bay Resort
It’s strange how it happened. My father-in-law, a glider enthusiast, came to town earlier this year, so we took him to Dillingham Airfield for a glider ride. Two weeks later, I went back to Dillingham and told the glider company I was interested in becoming a glider pilot.
I’ve spent most of my weekends there over the last few months learning to fly a Schweizer 2-32. It’s a high-performance, two-person utility glider. We normally do a tow release at about 1,000 feet, and our flying is done between 1,500 and 3,000 feet.
I got my original pilot’s license when I was in college at the University of Georgia. I flew a Grumman American Yankee. The requirements for getting a glider license when you already have a pilot’s license are not very stringent. I’m a few months away from getting my glider license. I have almost 100 flights and six solo flights, 20 hours of total time. The hard part is passing the check ride, which will require 10 to 15 more solo flights.
Gliders have unobstructed, 360-degree views. They give you such a feeling of freedom. When I’m up there by myself, I think, “This is really cool. Not a lot of people get to do this.” You’ve got the gorgeous Hawaii blue sky above you, the Pacific Ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. You can see all the way up to Turtle Bay and all the way down to Honolulu. It’s just spectacular. Imagine feeling like you’re a bird.
Am I a risk taker? No. I’m very conservative. I refuse to go skydiving. I won’t go bungee jumping. I have no interest in extreme sports. I’m afraid of heights. Flying is very different. You don’t get a sense of height when you’re in an airplane. Dillingham is such a great place. We have constant ridge lift from the trade winds. It’s a very safe place, because we’re always flying over a 9,000-foot runway.
Aubrey Hawk, president, Aubrey Hawk Public Relations
I’ve loved baking ever since I was a little girl. I started with brownies and cookies and other yummy treats. I finally tried baking bread in my 20s, using a packet of Fleischmann yeast and a recipe. It came out perfect, and I thought, “This is really satisfying and fun!” Every week, I bake the family sandwich bread for my husband, Jeff, and daughters, Kelly and Madeline. I feel a connectedness to my ancestors hundreds of years back when women did this every single day for their families.
My specialty is an Italian rosemary bread that I got from a tattered Sunset magazine.
It’s got fresh, chopped rosemary kneaded into the dough, and it utilizes “bega,” a very soft yeast dough you make in advance. After the bread does its second rising, you slash an asterisk on top with a razorblade and sprinkle rock salt into the cut part. It comes out of the oven looking beautiful. I love taking it to parties. People go nuts. When the Atkin’s Diet went away, I was really happy. For a while, nobody wanted carbs. I’m glad bread is back.
At Christmas, I like to make stollen. I can use real dried fruit instead of that dried, fake candy stuff. I like to make hamburger and hot dog buns, stuff that you’d never think of making at home. You can sprinkle sesame seeds or whole wheat, or chop up some onions to give it flavor. I make bagels, but you have to boil the dough ahead to create the thin crust that bagels have.
My PR business is in a home office, and I’m always multi-tasking. That’s what I love about baking bread. I can start a loaf, throw it in, and once it’s rising, I can do other things. When I need a little break, I put it into the oven. In this age of Internet and e-mail and the phones, baking is a comforting thing to me.
Martial Arts Master
Thomas K. Kaulukukui Jr., chairman, Queen Liliuokalani Trust
My first experience in martial arts was when I was 10. My father took my younger brother and me to a judo dojo, but we quit because neither of us found much joy in being thrown and in falling. When I was 13, my Chinese mother enrolled me in kung fu. It lasted six months. In 1964, at Michigan State University, my roommate suggested tae kwon do, Korean martial arts. I practiced tae kwon do throughout college, the U.S. Army and graduate school and earned the rank of samdam, third-degree black belt. In 1975, needing an outlet for the stress of law school, I studied kempo, a Chinese form of karate. I’ve also been practicing aikido, a Japanese art, for 30 years and have the rank of rokudan, sixth-degree black belt.
Martial arts is defensive, rather than offensive. It emphasizes harmony and balance. I’m interested in the spirituality, principles and application of martial arts in other areas of my life. It’s hard to explain. The best way to look at it is, when you’re young, it’s physical exercise and competition. It’s fun. At some point, you get more philosophical. You teach values to students.
In 1993, I began to practice lua, a Hawaiian martial art, and have attained the rank of olohe, or teacher. Lua is important to me because it is grounded in Hawaiian culture and values. It rekindles the warrior spirit, not in the sense of beating up people, but in the sense of carrying responsibility. I think lua can be a key element in raising the self-esteem of Hawaiian males.
The highest form of martial arts is to defeat an opponent with-out ever touching them, either through talking them out of it, or because there’s something about your spirit that tells them not to attack. It’s a statement of spirituality. The Chinese call it chi. The Japanese call it ki. Hawaiians call it mana. Every native group has its spiritual power or authority.
Dexter S. Kekua, senior vice president and chief executive officer, Heide and Cook Ltd.
I used to build cars when I was younger. Now, I design. I know what I want a car to look like, and it comes out exactly the way I want. I take pleasure in building rather than driving. I spend two and a half years building a car. I drive it a few times and then it’s like, “What’s next?”
It bothers me that a lot of hot rods are bought. When you buy a car, you buy what somebody else built. It’s their idea, not yours. I’m old school. In the old hot rod days, you got together and built it to your imagination.
I have nine cars in total. Two are in construction. One of them is a 1933 Willys, the world’s first compact car. It started out as a coupe, but as we went along, I didn’t like the lines. I was concerned about the size, so we chopped off the body. We widened it, lengthened it and slanted the window back. Afterward, we said, “That’s not exactly what we want,” so we ended up chopping the top off.
I have a 1931 Ford that’s almost finished. It was a national winner for Street Rod of the Year in 1988. I call it my “McDonald’s Car,” because I’ll drive to McDonald’s in it. On nice days, I’ll take it out. It’s a convertible.
My [BMW] B7 is the only one in the state. There are only 60 in the world. It’s as fast as a Corvette. I also have a tricked-out 2005 Hummer. They supercharged it for me and lowered it because my wife couldn’t climb into it.
My 2-year-old grandson’s first word wasn’t “dada” or “mama.” It was “car.” You can’t put a baby seat in the back of a hot rod, and there’s no airbag. I’m thinking of building a Ford 1932 sedan, where I can put a backseat for a baby seat, so I can take him riding in the car.
Tim McCullough, president and chief executive officer, Reyn Spooner
I was raised on Catalina Island in the 1950s, where we had air service to Los Angeles on small commuter aircrafts. These were converted amphibian military surplus planes. We got to know the pilots well, as we commuted between the mainland and Avalon. The early Cold War years were heating up and, where we lived, there was a tremendous amount of overfly. Here on the Big Island, we have the artillery bombardment in Pohakuloa. We can feel it shaking up here, too.
I was always impressed by airplanes, whether they were military or civilian. I’m not a certified pilot but our son, Christopher Reyn McCullough, is a commercial pilot with United Airlines.
My most prized keepsake is a picture of a Grumman G-21 Goose. It’s taking off in the picture, and I remember as a kid, sitting in that aircraft and flying in it. An Avalon photographer in the early 1950s took that photo.
I took some spectacular pictures of the Blue Angels demonstration that performed in Honolulu this year. They were magnificent! It was so fascinating to sit there and watch my wife, Kooksie, act like a kid in a candy store. You’ve got huge, static displays by the contemporary Air Force, with vintage things. We hadn’t been to an air show as dynamic as that, and we had a fabulous time.
My father, Reyn W. McCullough, was a paratrooper in the 17th Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. I have his dress jacket, which, being Army-issued, is what we know as an Eisenhower jacket. I have his medals of recognition and his patches of service. I watched him march in the Rotary parade in Avalon as a Veteran of Foreign War.
I’m a loyal patriot. My father and close family friends had all served. His commanding officer lost both his legs in battle, and I grew up knowing this individual. How can you not have the greatest respect for the freedom they fought for us and still enjoy today?
Do you like what you read? Subscribe to Hawaii Business Magazine »