KUKUI GROVE — Despite low unemployment numbers on Kaua‘i, activity was brisk at the 2006 Job Fair Saturday.
“This is an exciting time for us,” said Max Ramos, manager of the Costco, Hawai‘i Kai store on O‘ahu.
Costco is currently accepting applications for the Kaua‘i store that will be located at the former Kukui Grove Park and Pavilion site.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be managing the store, so I couldn’t say how many people we will be needing,” Ramos said.
However, he did say that his Hawai‘i Kai store has about 200 people on staff.
“We’re taking applications, and just giving out information, today,” Ramos said. He mentioned to curious passers by that if they are selected, they need to be available between September and October.
Costco was one of many vendors participating in the annual job fair coordinated by Workforce Development, and is one of several firms that brought personnel from off-island to help recruit potential workers.
Less than a month remains before The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf opens their first shop in Waipouli, and Human Resources Director Carleen Choo was on hand along with George Kwon, the district manager.
“We are still looking to fill between 10 and 12 positions,” Choo said.
“Full-time, part-time, and even high school students who have their workers’ permits,” Kwon added. “We’re very flexible.”
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is scheduled to open some time in late May, or early June, Kwon estimates. “We’ve already started unpacking some goods.”
Jacqueline Lucas-Lara is with human resources for an Oahu OfficeMax, and admitted that this was the first time she’s been to Kaua‘i.
Lucas-Lara explained that she is in charge of hiring for all the OfficeMax stores in the state, including six stores and four distribution centers.
On Kaua‘i, Lucas-Lara was seeking out candidates for four distribution facility workers as well as a warehouse driver. There is a warehouse on Kaua‘i owned by the OfficeMax parent company.
Andrew Hall, store manager for Sears, was juggling between opening his store on the mall as well as checking on his table at the job fair.
“We’re still looking for people,” Hall said while scurrying off between the aisles. “Where else can you make up to $25 an hour selling?”
“It’s been really good,” one representative said while walking through the throng of people. “Between people who just got here, people who are looking for better opportunities, people stopping off for breakfast at McDonald’s, and then, walking through looking for the goodies, the crowd has been nice. Hopefully, we’ll get a couple more surges.”
Mary Lou Mendes of Nakoa Enterprises, a chain of six stores located in the Coconut Marketplace, was also pleased.
“We gave out about a dozen applications in the first half hour. Some of them are filling them out on the tables,” Mendes said.
“Usually, we get about one, or two back from that. But, we’ve found some good workers from being here,” Mendes said. “We need six more good workers.”
This is the fourth year that Mendes has participated in the job fair, and one of her longtime workers, Bev Boiser added, “We have loyal employees because our boss is good.”
In addition to the wide variety of vendors seeking to supplement their workforce, workforce development people were on hand to help job applicants with job searches, resumes, and questions about becoming part of the Kaua‘i employment force.
“This is the first time I’ve come back after 30 years,” Ramos said. “But, as I landed, even with the rain, this is beautiful.”
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and email@example.com