Entrepreneur of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year awards

Here are the winners of the 2001 Kauai Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year awards.

February, 2002

Last December, two residents from Kauai were honored for their outstanding contributions to the business community. The Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Bob Hedin, founder of Red Dirt Shirt Co. David Pratt, president and chief executive officer of Grove Farm Co., was named Humanitarian of the Year. Both men were recognized at the Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s annual general membership meeting, held Dec. 16 at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.

Bob Hedin
Red Dirt Shirt Co., owner and founder

When Hurricane Iniki swept through Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992, it left Bob Hedin with a damaged T-shirt factory and rain-soaked, dirt-stained shirts. But instead of folding his company (which was called Tropical Shirts at the time), he experimented with the red dirt and found that it produced a unique-colored dye. So much so that Hedin decided to coat his entire shirt inventory with dirt. These later came to be known as Red Dirt Shirts, souvenirs unique only to Kauai.

By 1993, Hedin’s dirt shirts were a hit among residents and visitors. He and his wife, Margo, christened their company Paradise Sportswear.

Paradise Sportswear today is a $3 million business with 60 employees and more than 150 wholesale accounts. There are eight stores in Hawaii and one in the red-dirt area of Utah.

Like all visitor-based businesses, Paradise Sportwear has been affected by Sept. 11. The impact, however, is nothing compared to Hurricane Iniki’s devastation. To honor the victims of the terrorist attacks, the company created a commemorative shirt design: an American flag surrounded by a yellow plumeria lei and the words “Live Aloha.”

Paradise Sportwear really is just an excuse for Hedin to pursue his love for art. By profession, he designs and operates large tracking telescopes at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. He has worked at the missile facility for 20 years. “It’s probably a good idea that I don’t quit my day job,” he says.

David W. Pratt
Grove Farm Co., president and chief executive officer

Naming the Humanitarian of the Year has never been an easy decision for the Kauai Chamber of Commerce. This time, there was no question that the honor should go to David Pratt, president and chief executive officer for Grove Farm Co. Pratt over the past three decades has made significant contributions to not one, but three areas: education, healthcare and agriculture.

Thousands of children on Kauai and throughout the state are benefitting from his in involvement in local education. Pratt is a past director of the University of Hawaii Foundation. He also served on boards and committees, including the Kauai Community College and the Hawaii Preparatory Academy. The healthcare community has improved as a result of Pratt’s participation. For more than a decade, Pratt served as a member of the board for Wilcox Hospital and Wilcox Health Systems. He helped improve the quality of healthcare in numerous ways, such as adding an emergency center and raising money for state-of-the-art medical equipment. With his help, the hospital system established a lasting partnership with Kapiolani Medical Center and Queen’s Health System. The calibur of Wilcox Hospital is evident today, even though Pratt has since left the medical board (1997).

The sugar industry, a livelihood for many residents on the island of Kauai, has grown to fruition under his watch. Between 1960 to 1999, Pratt held executive positions at major sugar companies, such as Oahu Sugar, Puna Sugar and Amfac.

His leadership and philanthropic activities don’t stop there, however. In 1984, Pratt co-founded the Kauai Economic Development Board. He later served as its president and director.

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