Building and Opening Stores in Hawaii

Ryno Irwin, CEO, Hawaii Retail Services, Makaha, Hawaii,

Certain locations present unique challenges when it comes to building and maintaining stores, and Hawaii qualifies in both instances. Ryno Irwin, CEO of Hawaii Retail Services, Makaha, Hawaii, spoke with Chain Store Age about logistics and demographics challenges in the Aloha State.

What challenges are associated with opening and operating stores in Hawaii that retailers should be aware of? 
From a logistics standpoint, 95% of all retail and construction products must be shipped to the islands by boat or by airfreight, the latter being much more expensive. The need to consolidate shipping to reduce cost and correctly forecast shipping times creates challenges, not only for store openings, but every phase of the retail business.  Demographically, the people of Hawaii have a very strong and unique culture with a different “style” of doing business. Local business people of Hawaii have a more “relationship-based” approach to doing business than standard corporate America. In Hawaii, positive relationships are everything, and your relationships and reputation can make or break a business deal.

What are some of the most common mistakes retailers make when it comes to the same?
One of the most common mistakes retailers make is to hire a mainland-based contractor that is not knowledgeable and proficient in the logistical challenges of Hawaii. Mainland contractors often fail to account for the long lead times for shipping materials and fixtures via boat.

If the materials and fixtures arrive too early, they end up paying expensive dock and storage fees. If the fixtures are ordered and shipped too late, then the project and store opening could be delayed. The only alternative to expedite late shipment arrivals would be to fly in the necessary materials and therefore incur excessive air-freight costs. 

Coordinating the logistical timing of a project is a key element. It takes native intelligence and market experience that mainland contractors do not have. 

Another big challenge for retailers is finding reliable contractors within the state of Hawaii that perform highquality work, adhere to aggressive time lines and operate within the cost expectations of corporate retailers. This concept also applies to facility maintenance. Many mainland facility management companies rely on flipping through the Yellow Pages or randomly searching the Internet to outsource labor or trades in Hawaii. The result is that they hire a contractor they know nothing about and that often does not fit the needs of the job.

What advantages are there to be had in using a Hawaiibased company for facility management? 
The advantages for retail stores to use a locally owned and operated business begins with trust. Hawaii’s unique “relationship-based” business culture is much different from the corporate culture in the mainland. Having a locally owned company that understands these cultural differences, is able to thrive in any circumstance, and has built a trusted relationship with its customers and vendors simplifies and improves business and operations for retailers.

Also, due to remoteness and high travel costs, most retail facility managers are not able to visit their Hawaii locations very often. But a good, Hawaii-based FM company can act as a chain’s eyes and ears in Hawaii, identifying facility maintenance issues, documenting them, and reporting them to the facility manager for review and attention. 

In addition, a Hawaii-based company can efficiently manage the project, reduce response times and provide superior quality control. Given the minimum two- to three-hour time difference from the mainland, sending work orders directly to a Hawaiian company versus a mainland middleman will greatly improve response and communication times. Also, the local company’s project managers can physically visit a store site and review their technicians’ work to ensure it passes quality standards. 

Not to mention, there is the obvious financial benefit and cost savings of working directly with the company providing the service by “cutting out the mainland middle man.”

Tell us a little about Hawaii Retail Services and what type of services the company offers.
Hawaii Retail Services is a locally owned and operated company with more than 10 years of experience specializing in retail construction, renovation, lighting and facility maintenance. We are based on the island of O’ahu, and we operate on all the other remaining major Hawaiian Islands. HRS is self-performing and offers most trades inhouse.  No job is too big or too small. We are open 24/7/365 days a year and provide emergency service as fast as 1/hr onsite. Our work is guaranteed, and is completed on time and on budget for each and every project.



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