Pacific Edge Magazine Business Achievement Awards Gala 2016
For the second consecutive year, members of Hawaii’s business community gathered at the historic Pink Palace of the Pacific dressed to the nines for Pacific Edge magazine’s prestigious Business Achievement Awards Gala. The sixth annual black-tie affair took place on July 22 and began with a red-carpet reception, during which guests sipped cocktails and networked just a stone’s throw from Waikiki Beach.
Following a riveting hip-hop and Tahitian dance performance by Diverse Art Center and a welcome address from Pacific Edge publishers Naomi and Jamie Giambrone, Star 101.9 radio host and KITV-4 news anchor Maleko McDonnell returned as master of ceremonies to lead the night’s program. The awards ceremony recognized outstanding businesses and professionals in nine categories of excellence, honoring a winner in each category for their contributions to the local business community. After the dinner program concluded, guests mingled on the outside patio ad posed for red-carpet photos before the night’s festivities came to a close.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Russell Lau, Vice Chairman and CEO, Finance Factors
The Lifetime Achievement award honors an individual who has been in the business for 25 years or longer, going beyond the standard obligations for his or her industry and contributing significantly to the local business community.
While his rise in the business world and long tenure in finance is commendable, it is Russell Lau’s dedication to the community that truly distinguishes him from his peers as the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement award. A local boy and Punahou graduate, Lau completed his studies in Washington and Oregon, where he earned his master’s in business and finance. Since 1998, Lau has held the position of vice chairman and chief executive officer at Finance Factors, a family of companies specializing in finance, insurance, real estate and property management.
Lau also serves as president and CEO of the holding company Finance Enterprises and as vice chairman and CEO of Finance Insurance.
Over the years, Lau has made strides giving back to the community, applying his expertise and business acumen as director of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, member of the Financial Executives Institutes and former president of the Hawaii Bankers Association. He consistently demonstrates his leadership qualities and dedication to advancing our community as an active member of numerous boards, including Assets School, the East-West Center Foundation, St. Andrew’s Priory and Palolo Chinese Home. Lau also serves the community through employee-driven charitable giving and the Finance Factors Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Finance Factors family of companies.
COMMITMENT TO GREEN
Blue Planet Foundation
The Commitment to Green award honors an individual or business that has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to sustainability. Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit organization paving the way toward 100 percent renewable energy, is a leader in engaging the community and advocating for renewable energy solutions at the state legislature and public utilities commission. Last year, Blue Planet’s WEfficiency program, a crowdfunding effort for energy-efficient upgrades at nonprofit organizations, was Hawai‘i’s largest successful crowdfunding project to date, and the foundation’s inaugural student energy summit in partnership with the state energy office brought together hundreds of students in 2015, empowering them to develop and test prototypes for clean energy innovations.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Comprendio, an ed-tech startup founded by high school math teachers Dan Nash and Sean Ho‘okano-Briel, accepted the Corporate Social Responsibility award. Comprendio uses interactive software to present information in a way that resonates with each user, employing visual associations, identifying learning gaps and assessing learning comprehension. Applicable in schools and Fortune 500 companies alike, Comprendio’s web-based technology can help any business, cohort or working board ensure that users stay engaged and aligned. Comprendio won the Hawaii Venture Capital Association’s award for Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in February and Sean was chosen as one of PBN’s 40 Under 40 for 2016.
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Social media has transformed the realm of marketing and become an integral part of companies’ communications strategies. The award for Best Social Media Campaign honors a company that has successfully utilized social media marketing strategies. Many real estate agents use social media to post property flyers, but Nicole Lemas, “The Singing Realtor,” posts videos of herself on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube, highlighting specific features about the property in song. A dynamic voice in Hawai‘i real estate, Lemas builds relationships with other realtors, and the community at large, through social media.
SALES & MARKETING EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
Robyn Gee Tucker
Marketing Manager, Ala Moana Center
Robyn Gee Tucker was named Sales & Marketing Executive of the Year for 2016. Tucker serves as an integral member of Ala Moana Center’s management team, driving marketing and public relations strategies for the world’s largest open-air shopping center. As marketing manager, Tucker is responsible for developing and executing programs and campaigns that drive interest, awareness and traffic to Ala Moana Center. Under her direction, Ala Moana Center hosts more than 800 on-property events per year, including Shop a Le‘a and Fukubukuro. Tucker oversees Ala Moana Center’s ongoing partnership with YWCA O‘ahu’s Dress for Success program and has pursued opportunities to partner with other nonprofits such as Make-A- Wish Hawaii and Hawaii Meals on Wheels.
BEST FAMILY-RUN BUSINESS
The Systemcenter took home the award for Best Family-Run Business, which honors an outstanding company that has successfully merged family values with business interests and strategies. Led by President Stephan Edwards, who took the reins of the company originally established in 1976 by his parents, Bill and Joyce Edwards, the Systemcenter works with customers in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Rim throughout all phases of their projects. As one of Hawai‘i’s premier contract furniture companies, the Systemcenter also employs a professional installation team and is one of the only furniture dealerships in Hawai‘i that is a licensed contractor.
BEST NEW BUSINESS
The award for Best New Business recognizes a company in operation for no more than three years that has set itself apart in product or service and become a frontrunner in its field. DevLeague is a programming boot camp that turns students into entry-level web developers. Students acquire software-development skills, enabling them to pursue careers as web developers after just 12 weeks. The immersive, accelerated-learning program is the first of its kind in Hawai‘i and has a 97 percent placement rating, having helped 62 students in nine cohorts launch careers in the highgrowth tech industry.
BUSINESS EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
Director of Operations, The Salvation Army Kroc Center Hawaii
The Business Executive of the Year award honors the executive who has made the greatest positive impact on their company or organization through innovation, integrity and growth, leading their company to excellence in every aspect of business. As director of operations for The Salvation Army Kroc Center Hawaii, the largest community center in Hawai‘i, Bram Begonia is responsible for the center’s strategic direction as well as providing leadership for its overall operations. Under Begonia’s leadership, Kroc membership has grown to over 13,000 in four years of operation. Begonia also played an integral role in establishing a scholarship program that awards scholarships toward a Kroc membership, program or class. Since the program’s inception, more than 1,500 individuals have been positively impacted through a Kroc scholarship.
YOUNG PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR
Owner, Body in Balance and The Pole Room
The Young Professional of the Year award recognizes a young entrepreneur, business owner or executive of a local company or organization who exemplifies business excellence, community spirit, innovation and personal integrity.
Amanda Furgiuele began working at the pilates and personal training studio Body in Balance 10 years ago, eventually working her way up to partner and now owner. During her first year as owner, Furgiuele increased profits by 90 percent, renovated the studio and brought a unique selection of classes and instructors to west Maui. During that time, she also founded The Pole Room, a dance fitness and aerial arts studio. Furgiuele is highly active within the community, raising funds for local schools, shelters and nonprofit organizations. She strives to make fitness fun and show the Maui community the benefits of health and wellness.