2007 SmallBiz Success Awards

2007 SmallBiz Success Awards

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Chad Buck

When Hawaii Food-service Alliance LLC began a decade ago, owner Chad Buck worked out of a walk-in closet at home. He didn’t mind. His mission was to secure distribution contracts with Hawaii’s restaurants and retailers by trimming the fat on food costs. Local shoppers, in turn, would benefit from the savings.

That mission became the key to success. Hawaii Foodservice Alliance today supplies 150 varieties of national- and private-label baked goods to major restaurants, grocers and big-box chains statewide. To keep up with growth, the company’s operations have moved 12 times in the past 30 months. Sales have jumped from $120,000 in 2001 to $12.7 million in 2005 and were expected to hit $20 million last year.

While the company represents national names, such as Orowheat and Sara Lee, its statewide distribution of local products is a fast-growing area. The company owns and operates four warehouses on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. It recently purchased the delivery fleet and personnel for Oahu-based Ani’s Bake Shop and has agreed to bring Uncle Louie’s Sausage from Maui to three Oahu Costco stores.

The buck doesn’t stop there. “Our goal in 2007 is to get better rather than bigger, through increased and in-depth training of our staff, with more automation and computerization,” Buck says.

-Cathy S. Cruz


Larry Caster

They filled not just a niche, but a gaping hole on this side of the island,” says parent Bernadette Axelrod, referring to Island Pacific Academy (IPA), the first independent school in fast-growing West Oahu.

According to school founders, IPA has followed an unconventional path. Most private schools start small, renting space and growing gradually. But with desperate parents knocking before there was a door, IPA had to start big and grow fast.

“Clearly through our market studies we could see there was a huge, pent-up demand,” says Larry Caster, who launched this project for the Campbell Estate and left his job to see it through.

Backed by a $24 million loan from Central Pacific Bank, the nonprofit school built from the ground up and invested in state-of-the-art equipment and technology. IPA opened in the fall of 2004 with 200 students in pre-kindergarten through seventh grade. The school is adding one grade each year and there are now 550 students, 65 full-time faculty and a $6.7 million annual budget.

Supporters credit IPA’s success to Caster for his vision and commitment. He went as far as putting up his personal property to guarantee the loan to start the school.

IPA plans to keep growing over the next three years, anticipating its student body will reach 900 in that time. The first senior class will graduate in 2010.

-Colette P. Fox


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