Costco has arrived…

It used to be that you needed a snappy resume to get hired on Kaua’i.

Now, job offers come in a heartbeat, literally and figuratively.

If your heart is beating, you’re hired.

Such is the case with the island job market at present, where fewer than 900 people are on unemployment, and “Help Wanted” signs are hung with the same regularity that business-hours placards are posted.

It is in this setting that new businesses continue to be established on the island, including one notable entrant that is going to require lots of warm bodies.

The permits were approved earlier this year, and the land sale was finalized earlier this week, to facilitate the opening of the island’s first Costco, a by-membership, warehouse-store offering deep discounts on everything from gadgets to gummy bears to gasoline.

Some site work at the Kukui Grove Village West location adjacent to The Home Depot, where the Kukui Grove park and pavilion now stand, had been done earlier.

Before the ink was dry on the land-sale agreement between officials from Grove Farm and Costco, dust-containment fences were being erected around the 15-acre property.

And as far as getting employees to man the store, every employer on the island is a competitor of Costco.

“Everybody’s looking for people. I need a handful of people,” said Brian Pearson, operations manager at The Home Depot.

Yesterday, when reached on the phone, Pearson spoke with glee about having three people in The Home Depot offices, being interviewed for immediate openings.

“We’re hiring everyone we can get our hands on,” and personnel at Costco will be the same way, he said.

“They’ll probably raid everybody,” he said of Costco headhunters, who if they haven’t already been inside the neighboring Home Depot location, Pearson fully expects they soon will be.

“They’ll be recruiting everywhere. They’re a big company. They’ve got resources,” said Pearson, who helped open The Home Depot store at Kukui Grove Village West.

Costco officials, he predicted, will come in, offer good wages and other compensation packages, and find more than enough people to be able to open the store, now slated to open doors in August at the earliest.

It’s a good strategy to try to over-hire if possible, he said.

There were rumors that The Home Depot managers were considering or had actually cut back hours of operation or services because of a lack of manpower, a chronic problem for lots of owners and operators of local businesses large and small.

That is just a rumor, Pearson said.

It is true that The Home Depot officials have outsourced more of the inhome installation services than they might have liked, he said.

There is just so much demand for The Home Depot’s installation services, for kitchen cabinets, carpeting and other flooring, appliances and other items, that Pearson and company haven’t been able to find and retain enough experienced installation -professionals in-house, so have needed to contract those services out to other professionals who actually represent The Home Depot while not being actual Home Depot employees, he explained.

Officials at Grove Farm earlier this week announced they had finalized the sale of nearly 15 acres of land to leaders of Costco, one of the nation’s biggest retailers.

When given final Planning Commission approval of permits necessary to convert the property into a warehouse with a gas station and lots of parking, Costco officials said it is their intent to open the store as early as August.

The warehouse, a steel building, goes up very quickly, and construction is expected to begin once off-site and on-site improvements are complete, according to a Grove Farm press release.

“We are thankful that our county officials and Planning Commission members recognized the importance of approving the necessary permits to expedite Costco’s presence in Lihu’e, and we will continue to assist Costco in every way possible,” said Warren Haruki, Grove Farm president and chief executive officer.

“Grove Farm is constantly exploring new ways to meet new challenges, and we are pleased that our negotiations with Costco have proved successful,” said Haruki.

No purchase price was disclosed.

Officials with Grove Farm own around 40,000 acres of land from Lihu’e to Maha’ulepu on the South Shore, including lots of acreage mauka of Lihu’e and Hanama’ulu that previously was in sugar cane production by workers with Lihue Plantation.

Steve Case, founder of America Online, bought Grove Farm in 2000, and Lihue Plantation in 2001.

Grove Farm leaders are making the transition from sugar plantation to land development and management, with lots of housing developments planned or under construction around the company’s Puakea Golf Course, in Lihu’e, and Hanama’ulu.

More information about Grove Farm is available at www.grovefarm.com.

. Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@kauaipubco.com

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