Makai HR Hawaii Business Owner Spotlight: Cool Roof Hawaii and ZMANA
One of the best things about providing outsourced human resources services on Oahu is getting to know the local business owners and managers who run these companies. Hawaii’s diverse business community is close knit and teeming with talent. We hope you find their insights as interesting as we do!
Q. Tell me about Cool Roof Hawaii and ZMANA.
A. “I founded Cool Roof Hawaii because I realized that Hawaii had a lack of good roofing and waterproofing contractors. Cool Roof is a fully licensed roofing and waterproofing contract company started and based on Oahu. Over the past 12 years, I have hired a great staff that like what they do and understand what customers deserve. Ironically, the commercial building that I purchased for Cool Roof created a need for security solutions that led to the founding of ZMANA. The building is in a neighborhood in Kakaako that takes on a life of its own overnight and it was causing security issues. This, combined with my desire to diversify into a more subscription-based business, brought me to a tradeshow where the stars aligned. I was introduced to a whole new world of smart security and was excited to discover that it’s simple and customizable. Our goal at ZMANA is to use Z-Wave technology to create a personalized security solution for residents and small businesses that protects their investments, property, and the safety of their loved ones. Put simply, we provide advanced security solutions that you can control with a smartphone. Our customers can monitor what’s going on at their home or business at all times. What sets us apart is our customer service and the relationships that we form with our customers.”
Q. Are you born and raised in Hawaii or what brought you to Hawaii?
A. “I was raised in Colorado. About 15 years ago I decided I needed a change. I chose Hawaii because I’ve always admired the sport of surfing.”
Q. What is your work background and how did it bring you to ZMANA?
A. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur: I mowed lawns at age 10 and sold fruit from my backyard even earlier. With my work background in sales and construction management, I lined up a job in Hawaii through craigslist selling roofing. After a while, I decided it was time to do my own thing or move home. I made up my mind that I could run a business at least as well as my boss and founded Cool Roof Hawaii in 2007, which indirectly led to the founding of ZMANA in 2017.”
Q. Any recent or upcoming exciting developments in your businesses?
A. “I recently founded and opened a barber shop next to Whole Foods Kakaako called Flaco's. It’s been super fun and a totally different type of business for me. Cool Roof Hawaii continues to grow and develop great relationships with our customers. There are a couple of big things happening with ZMANA. The first is that we are now under contract to start a smart security system with a major Hawaii financial institution on the Hawaiian Islands and Guam. The second is that we are now in full swing implementing the D.R. Horton New Home Program that includes a smart home package in every house they build - about 500 houses a year.”
Q. What are your core business values?
A. “We enjoy helping people with their properties and constantly aim to achieve the three core values that started our path to success - great service, great quality, and great value. We also believe in building a team and doing it right the first time with honesty and integrity. Our daily motto at ZMANA is to listen and act with Aloha while working to provide the customized care that ensures our customers receive the best service possible.”
Q. Do you have a personal or professional motto?
A. “I often tell my team: "if we do a great job, the customer will tell five people. If we do a bad job, a customer will tell twenty people”. My personal motto is always be honest, and always provide a great product with great service.”
Q. What advice do you have for people wanting to launch a startup in Hawaii?
A. “That’s a really good question. Here are the six things I would advise:
You have to believe in what you’re going to sell.
Do your research on the market and the competition and know how you’ll be different.
Have a plan of how you’re going to get the message out.
Be prepared financially.
Hire smart people that can help the business.
JUST DO IT. Don’t Stall.”
Q. What are the benefits and challenges of owning a business in Hawaii?
A. Benefits: “I love being a creator. Coming up with an idea and creating jobs is very rewarding. It’s great to hire people who are really into the idea behind your business.”
Challenges: “As an entrepreneur, there is no one to rely on other than yourself. There is no one to pat you on the back. You have to make lots of decisions; it can be intimidating but it’s good. I’ve found the best way to overcome this challenge is by getting to know and talking to other entrepreneurs who have been through it. I really value their support and advice.”
Q. What is your greatest success and what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your business experiences?
A. Success: “When I came to Hawaii off the plane, I was single and carrying only golf clubs, a surf board and two bags. Now I have a wife and kids and I’ve created a livelihood out of nothing. I am proud that a lot of families are benefiting from my businesses.”
Lesson: “There are so many lessons. The first is: when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. Some of the best deals are the ones you don't do. Lastly, what my parents taught me at a young age: stay out of debt and save money.”
Makai HR is proud to provide outsourced HR services to both Cool Roof Hawaii and ZMANA. We also secure our Makai HR offices with ZMANA smart security. Said Makai HR president Valerie Wang, “When I met Kevin it was an incredible connection of two entrepreneurs coming together to address real problems that are facing his businesses as well as ours and our clients. We’re also both 24/7, tech-based businesses and we’ve been able to mutually come together to create a solution that works for everyone. Our values and our mission align so it was kind of a match made in heaven to work with them.”