As a child, decisions were made for me. Mom was a social worker helping Palolo Housing kids, and raising me and my two siblings on her own. As the oldest, my chores were heavy. If I had any down time to myself, I would head to the beach and surf--surfing was my outlet. As I was getting older, my choices were either to play sports or work to make money and help the family.
At 14 I received my Hawai'i I.D. and a summer job at Pearl Harbor filing and doing background checks. I was also a fry cook at Zippy's on Dillingham. Finding jobs and working hard was natural for me. I like to better myself, so wherever I worked, I found ways to get promoted.
In 1982, Mom told us we were going to Maui for a summer vacation, but never said we weren't coming back! I missed my high school buddies, but I got used to Pa'ia. The best thing was meeting my wife, Gimi. She is a very smart lady and a saver. She looks ahead and sizes things up. If not for her, I wouldn't own my own construction business today.
TKH Construction, LLC
After high school, I had a one-way ticket to Louisiana and I shrimped for a year. It wasn't working out, so I headed back to Maui and got hired at Goodfellow Brothers Inc. A year later, they made me a foreman.
During my 17 years with them, Gimi and I raised our children and ran a volleyball club for kids, which became Lanakila Volleyball Academy. We now field eight teams to compete in regional and national competitions.
In 2007, the wife had saved up enough money to start her own business, but the product didn't pan out. One day she said, "Bubba, I decided I want to invest in you." Me? What can I do? Her plan was to start our own construction company, but I never thought about general contracting before.
Gimi's dad and the senior foremen I had worked with believed in me. Gimi had a solid business plan and was convinced we could do it. "Just try," she said.
I grabbed the vision, studied hard and passed my general contractor license exam on the first try.
Montessori School awarded us our first project bid--building their extension. I'm a guy who learns by doing, so after that first job, I knew we could succeed. Today, TKH Construction LLC has seven employees, and specializes in commercial and public projects.
Our son Kalani joined the business after he earned his degree in international business. I focused on a new objective--spent two years getting the only 8A certification on Maui. This classification pre-qualifies TKH Construction to bid on federal jobs. Small Business Administration HUBZone and DBE also give us preference in federal and DOT projects.
Gimi and I teach our volleyball kids how to be successful at the game, but it's really about life: Choose goals that move you forward, keep the target in sight--take your best shot, work hard and don't give up because the result is on you. And you're never alone--be humble and thank God for all the people he sends your way to help. If you are good to your team, then your team will be good to you.