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Long-time Owners Reflect on HPM Careers

Some of the company’s longest-serving owner-employees reflect back on what it is that makes them stay with the company as long as they have.

 

Several common themes emerge when you ask HPM’s longest-serving owner-employees what has kept them wearing the company’s distinctive green polo shirts. They tend to view their fellow owner-employees as family, they are grateful that HPM shows repeatedly the priority they place on those who work there, and they appreciate the opportunity to get to know their customers and their needs. It starts with the camaraderie that the owner-employees feel toward each other.

David Rocha, a retailer in the Hilo branch’s Contractor Sales Department, agreed. “I have always been blessed to have been surrounded by amazing people throughout my time here at HPM,” he says. Rocha, an owner-employee since 1986, said that closeness is felt with regular customers as well. 


“The most positive, enjoyable part of my time here has been the friendships made through years with customers as well as fellow associates. A whole lot of laughs have been shared, as well as a few tears. But hey, we’re family.”


Waimea branch Project Manager Ted Doi said the positive family attitude comes from the Fujimoto family’s leadership over the years. “I feel they have tried their best to keep us employed during difficult times,” said Doi, who’s been with HPM since 1987. “They have been proactive in making sure we are always changing and moving forward to ensure the company survives.”

Tony Cann, West Hawaii Regional Sales Manager who started at the company as a facilities maintenance guy 37 years ago, said the company’s three core values of “Heart,” “Character” and “Growth” are instilled in each owner-employee. Those are values that have kept him an HPM owner-employee since 1986. “You have the ability to move up the ladder,” he said.

HPM’s firm commitment to place a high priority on the welfare of its owner-employees is also cited as a major reason long-timers have remained on the job. Under former HPM president Robert “Bobby” Fujimoto, the company in 1977 took the bold initiative to establish its Employee Stock Ownership Program. In 2006, HPM became 100% employee-owned.

Corporate IT Manager Russel Oshiro, who’s been with HPM since 1990, said the company’s ESOP initiative helps boost morale because it means everyone has a personal stake in the company.

“Being a part-owner, anything that you can do to help the company ultimately helps yourself,” Oshiro said. “You’re paying yourself for a job well done.”

 

Being able to emphasize the word “custom” when it comes to customers is also a big deal for veteran owner-employees who genuinely want to help those who walk in HPM’s doors for goods and services.

Ross Yamashita, who works in contractor sales out of the Kailua-Kona branch and has been with HPM since 1973, said interacting with customers is among the biggest joys of his day. Because he’s been around so long, he knows his products and his customers, and how best to match them up. “I think we deal with our customers in a more personable way,” Yamashita said.

Francis Rodillas, HPM Hilo Outside Sales Representative, agreed. “I was able to excel in the OSR position because of the opportunities HPM had given me over the years,” said Rodillas, an owner-employee since 1990. “My knowledge of products and processes over the years have greatly increased my ability to grow in this position — and serve our customers in the best way possible.”

 

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