Surf Store Promotes Fun In And Out Of The Sun
By Elima Pangorang
Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku said it best: “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”
Surfing’s popularity has certainly gained momentum across the globe since the days of “The Duke,” but the joy it brings to surfers and non-surf-ers alike is undeniable. This is especially true to residents across Hawaii, where the sport originated.
For brothers Stephen and Jimmy Tsukayama, they’ve always wanted to share their love for surfing with others, and they were able to accomplish this through their business, Hawaiian Island Creations. Founded in 1971, HIC started as a small surf shop in Kailua — which happens to be where the siblings’ childhood surf break was.
According to branch manager Mitch McEwen, the brothers “recognized a need for surf-related products on the windward side of Oahu, as many of the early surf apparel brands were just starting to gain popularity in Hawaii.”
On top of surfing supplies, the brothers sold bicycles and even do-it-yourself surfboard kits. As the shop’s products grew in demand, HIC moved to a larger location in Kailua that, in addition to the original store, now houses its corporate office and distribution warehouse.
Today, the business has grown into Hawaii’s largest surf retail chain with 16 locations statewide, churning out the latest trends in surf apparel and products.
“HIC’s strength as a business comes from the importance Stephen and Jimmy have placed on maintaining local values and always treating the customer like ohana,” explained McEwen. “The HIC name and distinctive logo is now recognized by surfers around the globe as an icon of Hawaiian surfing.”
He further mentioned that the biggest and best selection of the most popular surf brands and the highest quality surfboards, skateboards, body boards and surf accessories are available at all HIC locations, which are supported by knowledgeable employees.
“For our retail stores, someone who is friendly, honest and hard working and a person that embodies the aloha spirit that we strive to perpetuate, is what we look for in potential employees,” said McEwen.
The work environment that McEwen and each store manager promote comes from a passion for surfing and the beach. He noted that many of the current employees are fans of the HIC brand, which adds to the ability to share information with customers.
In addition to pleasing guests, employee satisfaction also is at the roots of HIC’s success. This is evident in the casual, fun and friendly atmosphere that each location encourages, which, in turn, radiates to the customers that walk through the company’s doors.
Supervisor and IT support of HIC’s Ala Moana location Shaun Takeuchi agreed, saying that he enjoys working for the business. “It’s fun working here and meeting new people,” he said. “I was really shy before, but working here really helped me with getting better to talking with people, like customers and my co-workers. Everybody is accepting of each other and we back each other up.”
There’s also a lot of room to grow at HIC. Having started as a cashier three years ago, Takeuchi, who has a degree in computer science, mentioned that he slowly moved up the ladder and once the store found out Takeuchi had a background in computers he added IT support to his official job description.
For those looking for something a little more temporary, the company also hires according to the demand of the seasons. McEwen shared that college and high schools students benefit most during these times of the year as it coincides with their vacation breaks from school.
He stated that interested parties can visit their store of choice for an application or apply online at HIC’s website.
“Employees have a job to do, but we want them to enjoy themselves, have fun, and make friends while they’re doing it,” McEwen concluded. “HIC has an open door policy between staff and management, which means any employee may bring their suggestions, questions or complaints to their manager without fear of reprisal.
“Our goal is to bring out the best in our employees, and that comes when employees feel enthusiastic about coming to work.”
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LAWRENCE TABUDLO PHOTOS
COMPANY: Hawaiian Island Creations
LOCATION: Ala Moana Center, ground level, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 1042 (plus 15 other locations statewide)
FOUNDERS: Stephen and Jimmy Tsukayama
EMPLOYEES: 175-225, depending on season
BENEFITS: Generous discount on store products; health care benefits including medical, dental, drug and vision for all employees who work more than 20 hours per week and vacation pay for full-time employees.
NOTEWORTHY: The HIC Pro will take place next weekend with the holding period scheduled for Oct. 27–Nov. 9. This annual event is the official qualifier of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Head down to Sunset Beach on the North Shore to catch all the big-wave action.