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SBA Award Winners 2014

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29 local entrepreneurs, companies and champions are honored

Each year, the Hawaii region of the federal Small Business Administration gives out awards that celebrate some of the state’s best small businesses and small-business advocates. Hawaii Business is proud to profile the 2014 winners.

To nominate a company or champion for next year’s awards, check the October 2014 issue of Hawaii Business for information on the nominating process or talk to your banker.

To learn about SBA loans for small businesses, go to or ask your banker.

More Winners

Want to learn about other great local companies? Read about the 2014 SmallBiz Editor's Choice Awards.

Person of the Year

Dave Erdman
PacRim Marketing Group / PR Tech

Sponser: Mel Racadio, Central Pacific Bank

Photo: Mark Arbeit

While most 16-year-olds were making prom plans, Dave Erdman launched a career. Selected as a Rotary exchange student, Dave left his Pennsylvania hometown to study in Japan for a year, igniting a passion for Asian language and culture that remains the cornerstone of his success.

Recognizing Hawaii as the gateway to the Pacific, Erdman completed his education at the University of Hawaii, put down roots and dove head first into Hawaii’s hospitality industry.

He founded PacRim Marketing Group almost 25 years ago on the idea that Asian markets deserve targeted, specialized marketing and communications, and he believed he could help local companies grow their presence in those markets. Today, PacRim and sister company PR Tech are leaders in niche marketing to Asian communities and enjoy deep relationships with their clients, consumers and partners in Hawaii’s hospitality arena.

Communications Pacific CEO Kitty Lagareta remembers getting to know Erdman some 28 years ago, when he was starting out. “I remember thinking he was really onto something,” she says. “It was fascinating to watch.”

Today, she considers him one of her favorite people in the industry. “He’s a wonderful businessman, a great gentleman and his firm does incredible work.”

Mel Racadio, his business banker at Central Pacific Bank, agrees with Lagareta, citing PR Tech’s proprietary MyRez hotel reservation system as an example. “I realized how big PacRim and PR Tech are to the local tourism community and the Asian markets,” she says.

When Racadio first suggested Erdman’s nomination, he was reluctant and only agreed after she reminded him that it was a recognition of his team’s terrific work. “He believes in his team and likes to make it fun for them,” she says. “I told him he’d win.”

PacRim’s clients include Nieman Marcus, Outrigger Hotels and Ala Moana Center. Today, with PacRim’s help, the Ala Moana store is the only one in the Nieman Marcus family with websites in Korean, Japanese and Chinese languages. “We bring customers from no knowledge of the brand to fans to loyal customers,” Erdman says.

Remaining a pioneer in the industry is Erdman’s constant compass. He looks to double the business over the next five years.

“Change is constant. Our challenge is to grow through that change. We’re communicating our clients’ brands. We can’t make a mistake.”

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