2010 Smallbiz Success Awards
(page 7 of 8)
Photos:Olivier Koning. Ray Jardine credits NHV’s success to its
New Business Award:
Call it an “Aha!” moment that began with lunch in Waimanalo for three former Vietnam veterans. All three had served in the first-responders and emergency-management fields, were disabled and Native Hawaiian. Army veteran Mike Jones had consulted for small businesses owned by disabled Native Alaskan veterans and asked, “Why can’t we do this ourselves?”
“It was our background, relationships and understanding of the federal marketplace that gave us the confidence that we could pull this off,” says Army veteran Ray Jardine, now president and CEO of Native Hawaiian Veterans LLC. Taking advantage of Executive Order 13360’s mandate of 3 percent of federal contracts set aside for businesses owned by disabled veterans, Jardine, Jones and Army veteran Puni Akana set up NHV in 2005, with four employees and gross revenues of $63,763.
It now has 85 employees and was projected to earn more than $10 million in 2009, with the Department of Defense as its primary client. A Hawaii-based company with projects in nine U.S. states and 18 countries, NHV provides Subject Matter Experts in homeland security, emergency management, public-safety services, information technology, unexploded ordnance, and computer and mobile radio installation. NHV is one of the few minority-owned and disabled-veteran-owned small businesses nationwide, and is one of an even smaller number of such businesses owned by Native Hawaiians.
The speed of NHV’s growth was a surprise, with revenue doubling annually, but not the success itself. “We hit every bullet point of our strategic plan,” says Jardine, who credits the company’s commitment to Native Hawaiian values. “We mix good business sense with our core values.” Jones calls it a “hard sell” initially with new clients that has paid off with returning customers.
NHV employs a majority of veterans in its organizational family (ohana). Work is based on collaboration and cooperation (lokahi) with other disabled veterans’ small businesses for mutual success. At the company’s core is a work ethic of “doing the right thing, the right way, the first time – kinaole,” says Jardine.
Generosity (hookipa) spurred the creation of NHV’s Kinaole Foundation. Funded by the company’s profits, the foundation recognizes Hawaii’s top 26 Junior ROTC cadets, provides scholarships for students seeking unexploded ordnance technician certification, and recently funded leadership training through mastery of Native Hawaiian martial arts (lua).
“We started out thinking about doing work only in Hawaii and realized that limited our potential,” says Jardine. Future plans include expanding foundation funding and welcoming 2010 – with projected revenue of $15 million and more than 100 employees worldwide – as another banner year for NHV.
-By Gail Miyasaki
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