Boyers are the western region’s Small Business Persons of the Year

It looks like Russ Boyer’s well-laid plan to spend a lot more time on the golf course will have to wait just a while longer.

Boyer, 63, of Wainiha, founder and chief executive officer of Aloha Lumber Co., Inc., recently found out that he and son Randy Boyer, company president, are the 2006 U.S. Small Business Administration Kaua’i, Hawai’i and western region Small Business Persons of the Year.

That means they are in the running for the national honor and, in addition to attending the state ceremonies on O’ahu next month, they will also have to plan a trip to Washington, D.C., where they will be feted and compete against other regional winners for the title of the Small Business Persons of the Year for the entire country.

The Boyers, who have a succession plan in place that hinges on Randy Boyer’s three sons: Randall, Ryan and Robert, all employed at Aloha Lumber, credit the “hard work and dedication of our employees of Aloha Lumber Company, Inc.” for their success.

And a success story it is.

Company leaders and employees have survived two hurricanes, have grown consistently in sales, profits and number of employees, encompass four other business entities other than the parent company, and boast four Kaua’i locations including the large inventory acreage behind the Kuhio Highway mother ship in Kapa’a.

There is a Kilauea location, and a building on Kawaihau Road that is leased to owners and operators Otsuka’s Furniture & Appliances, in addition to the two Kuhio Highway Kapa’a properties.

The Boyers were nominated for the island award by Joelle Wada, a Kaua’i native who is now a vice president for Bank of Hawaii, and Dan Oshima, a vice president at American Savings Bank.

Even in the age of The Home Depot on Kaua’i, Aloha Lumber is still one of the largest building-materials retailers and distributors on the island, and in 2005 celebrated 25 years of service.

In addition to Aloha Lumber, the Boyers have five other businesses: a custom design and drafting firm; a licensed construction company; two real-estate-management companies, and a fuel company.

When Hurricane ‘Iwa struck the island in 1982, and ‘Iniki in 1992, on paper it would have seemed to be great times to be in the construction-supply business.

But the Boyers had to use “drastic financial and management measures” to keep Aloha Lumber afloat after both of those storms, they said.

They survived through both hurricanes and other economic downturns, created new value-added services, designed innovative financial methods to grow their business, and established services for their customers that set the stage for their continued strong market share in the current, booming Kaua’i construction economy, they said.

Besides running a thriving operation, the Boyers also take the time to mentor others, devote many volunteer hours, and provide monetary support back to needy members of the community.

The upcoming Habitat Fore! Humanity Golf Tournament, sponsored by Aloha Lumber Company, is a key way for them to give back to the community, raising funds so others may raise houses for the island’s lower-income residents.

Starting out with a small construction company in a Quon-set hut on the North Shore of Kaua’i, Russ Boyer discovered that selling lumber, in addition to doing construction, was a profitable venture.

In the formative ’80s, he used his business acumen to push doors open, brought his son Randy into the business, established vendors on the Mainland, bought bigger trucks, and ultimately grew at a quick pace.

Then came ‘Iwa.

After struggling through ‘Iwa recovery efforts and re-building his equity, Russ Boyer purchased a large parcel of land in Kapa’a, and built their present-day headquarters with minimal collateral requirements.

This became the site of their second location on the island. Russ and Randy Boyer developed close personal relationships with contractors, real-estate professionals and owners, and established a strong personal and business reputation that remains intact today.

Then came ‘Iniki.

After the brief re-construction burst, the Boyers sank with other business owners and operators in the deep economic depression that was to last several long years.

At that time, staying power meant adopting survival tactics. Gradually, the Boyers got their business back in the black.

Randy Boyer believes that one of the key tenets of management is to hire intelligent, customer-oriented people who can make their mark in service.

While he has self-studied finance, law, and management, he surrounds himself with a competent team to help propel their company to the next level.

He and members of his team created their “just in time” inventory systems that validated Aloha Lumber’s commitment to “100 percent order delivery the next day.”

This is accomplished through a flash order-fulfillment system and a well-equipped transportation team.

Bursting at the seams in 2004, the Boyers took a big risk by investing in a two-acre yard and opening a 20,000-square-foot distribution facility from which the majority of Aloha Lumber Company’s orders are now processed.

Randy Boyer is now looking for additional satellite sites on Kaua’i, to have a presence in all key development locations.

Randy Boyer’s three sons, the third generation of Boyers, are being actively groomed in the operations. His oldest son, Randall, is transportation manager, supervising the drivers and managing the fleet, a position that requires tremendous responsibility.

His younger son Ryan is currently a truck driver, while Robert works in the yard. They fill in wherever is needed in the operations, which also helps them to learn all aspects of the business.

The Boyers have and continue to give back to the community in many ways. As an example, over the years, through scholarship programs and summer internships at Aloha Lumber Company, the Boyers have guided many high-school students to further their education and to develop their work experiences.

The Boyers are strong supporters of Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity, where they have custom-designed and delivered permitted plans and building materials for 26 homes and tailored designs for over 80 homes in total, all on a pro-bono basis.

The dollar value of these services is reportedly over $100,000. This is an ongoing pro-bono service that Russ Boyer continues to donate his skill and time to, he said.

Every year, the Boyers donate materials and volunteer support to the Taste of Hawaii, the Rotary Club of Kapaa’s primary fund-raiser.

Russ Boyer is a member of the North Shore Lions Club, and continues to participate in community projects that the club members organize.

Aloha Lumber Company leaders also donate materials and financial support to representatives of a large number of non-profit organizations annually, including schools in Kapa’a, the Kaua’i Fire Department, Hawaii Fire Fighters Association, Kaua’i Police Department, Kauai Children’s Discovery Museum, American Lung Association, Pop Warner football, and more. Their yearly monetary contributions easily exceed $20,000.


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