Keeping it in the family

LIHUE — Dennis Oliver created the family business and retail store, Puni Nani Pools and Spa, in 1973 with a dream of providing excellent service.

Forty-two years later, he has retired and his daughter, Sarah Kaneko, will succeed him.

“I’m excited,” said Kaneko, new co-owner of the Lihue store. “I think it’s a nice opportunity to be able to continue the family business. I mean, it’s something that’s not easily done. It’s something that isn’t common.”

Kaneko began working for the business in 2002 and now owns the operation with her husband, Lance Kaneko, who is the company’s construction foreman and heads the service department.

“He and I make a great team,” Sarah Kaneko said. “I wouldn’t do it without him.”

Kaneko grew up around the pool industry. She climbed the company’s corporate ladder and became the office manager in 2009 and a year later, the general manager. She hopes to grow its customer base.

“We’re bringing new energy and new ideas to the company,” Kaneko said “We’ve been in business 42 years and to be able to continue, that is exciting and we’re looking at the next chapter.”

Oliver has four children, but three of them wanted to pursue other careers. Sarah wanted to take over the company.

“She has proven herself as a worthy to take on a company that’s 42 years old. I’m very proud of her,” he said.

“She’s very capable and she’s going to continue the traditions of the company while bringing her own spirit,” Oliver said. “I’m very proud of her and she’s doing a great job.”

Kaneko still studies her trade.

“You have to know it. I don’t think anyone in the industry isn’t still learning,” she said.

Kaneko remains motivated to helping her others.

“I like being able to provide a quality service and being able to have a company that’s able to support the community and its employees,” Kaneko said. “To me, I look at it as a mutually beneficial position. We’re being able to provide a really good service and we’re able to have our employees prosper.”

As Kauai’s first pool company, Puni Nani Pools and Spa, 4490 Puhi Road, specializes in providing a line of pool care products, including pumps and motors in addition to pools and jacuzzis.

The company services homes and commercial properties with pool installation and also carries merchandise for pool main-tenance. It also specializes in pool permits and construction across the island.

“I like to put myself in the customer’s shoes. If I were the customer, what would I want?” Kaneko said. “I give credit to our customers a lot. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

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