2008 SmallBiz Success Awards

2008 SmallBiz Success Awards

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Kawika's Painting
& Waterproofing Inc.                   

David Dunham, president, Kawika's Painting & Waterproofing Inc.

David Dunham, president, Kawika's Painting & Waterproofing Inc.


David Dunham started painting houses to pay for college.  Now – 25 years later – he still paints to pay bills.  More precisely, he leads a team of employees who paint and perform the many services Dunham offers his clients.

Dunham didn’t study business, but he’s succeeded in turning Kawika’s Painting & Waterproofing Inc. into a multimillion-dollar Hawaii company.  In the past five years, Kawika’s doubled its workforce to about 80. Revenues have climbed between 10 percent to 12 percent per year.

Most of Kawika’s clients are commercial building owners.  The company has found its niche painting and restoring older buildings undergoing renovation and maintenance. Kawika’s employees are skilled in a variety of crafts that go hand in hand with painting, such as waterproofing, concrete repairs, carpentry, lead paint removal and the like.

Kawika’s specializes in projects ranging from $50,000 to $100,000, primarily large buildings, such as condominiums, hotels, shopping malls and schools. Although he hasn’t used his geography degree to earn a living, Dunham values his education, and he invests in training and educating his employees.

When Kawika’s celebrates its 25th anniversary this year,  Dunham plans to kick off a new marketing campaign to educate current and potential clients about the company’s services.  He hopes that by filling a need in the marketplace, he can continue to grow his business.  “With inflation and the cost of living, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.”

- Colette P. Fox

Maili Moa LLC                         

Mark Takaki, egg farmer and owner, Maili Moa LLC

Mark Takaki, egg farmer and owner, Maili Moa LLC



For most businesses, success is measured by profit margins, growth rates or expansion opportunities. For egg farmer Mark Takaki, however, success is simply defined as staying afloat. “My biggest challenge is just trying to survive,” he says, laughing.

These are not “eggs-travagant” times for Takaki and his 9-year-old company, Maili Moa LLC. Increasing regulations, rising feed costs and the influx of U.S mainland eggs in Hawaii markets have hurt local farms. The Waianae-based Maili Moa, with four full-time employees, is one of only four remaining egg farms on Oahu.

Takaki, whose sales revenues are between $600,000 and $700,000 annually, says his ability to adapt to the market is his key to survival. He no longer delivers to Oahu restaurants, for example, because the Mainland suppliers are able to sell their eggs cheaper. Instead, he makes weekly shipments to egg-needy markets on Kauai and the Big Island. He also has carved a niche for himself by producing more brown eggs.

The implementation of a state-sponsored Livestock Feed Reimbursement Program, which allows qualified farmers to apply for reimbursement for up to 60 percent of their feed expenses, should help. Enacted in 2007, the program is only scheduled to last until 2009.

What happens if the assistance program isn’t extended?

“Basically, I would have to shut down,” says Takaki. “I hope it doesn’t come to that. I love the farm life.”

- Lance Tominaga
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