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2012 SmallBiz Success Awards

18 Hawaii small businesses are finalists for Hawaii Business magazine's SmallBiz Success Awards

(page 5 of 8)

Co-owner Michael Tam attributes Martin & MacArthur’s
success to the 30 master craftsmen on staff.
Photo: David Croxford

Long-term Achievement Winner:
Martin & MacArthur

Last year marked the 50th anniversary for local furniture company Martin & MacArthur. It was during the 1960s era of plastic and metal furnishings that Jon Martin introduced Hawaiiana designs made of koa wood to the Islands.

Since Simon McKenzie and Michael Tam took over ownership four years ago, they have revitalized the company by adding store locations and introducing new products, such as koa wood sunglasses, watches and even iPhone cases.

“We want to make koa more consistent with the lifestyle of today by providing products that are a combination of high-tech and high-touch,” says Tam, who keeps a close eye on the wish lists of his clients. He notes that the average age of a typical Martin & MacArthur customer has decreased over the years as more people in their 30s look to furnish their homes with quality, local designs.

Even as the company offers new products, some things will always remain the same, like Martin & MacArthur’s bestselling rocking chair. When Martin originally designed the rocker, he researched several designs before settling on the version that remains unchanged to this day.

“Our rocking chairs can be found around the world,” Tam says. “The design has often been imitated but never duplicated. No other chair will ever feel as comfortable.”

The company focuses on heritage pieces that can be collected and passed down. “I bought my first piece, the Ladies Rolltop Desk, in 2007,” says Barbara Cargill, a loyal customer, who continues to build her Martin & MacArthur collection. “It’s beautiful work and I feel very comfortable supporting a business that is using a local and renewable wood.”

Indeed, for every piece of furniture sold, the company plants a koa tree on Hawaii Island dedicated to that customer. The company promises that wood used for furniture is always from fallen or dead trees, and living trees are never cut down.

Tam attributes much of the company’s success to the 30 craftsmen on staff, who have all undergone vigorous training, with some achieving master craftsman status. Meanwhile, the company continues to recruit new woodworkers. “The art of fine furniture making has to be passed down to new generations,” Tam says.

- Tara Zirker

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