KAPAA — As a child, Joshua Rapanot was curious about two things: electricity and how a washing machine worked.
“I remember when my dad first started the generator. I could not stay away from it,” Rapanot said. “I would help my dad maintain and hook up all the appliances to it and I would watch the magic happen as it powered the washing machine.”
Years later, the electrician by trade had a new challenge in mind: running a business.
After five years of planning, waiting and constructing, Rapanot’s goal of opening a laundromat came to fruition on Wednesday.
“It’s just a little laundromat that my family and I just decided to make,” said Rapanot, owner of Laundromat Express in Kapaa. “We just wanted to make something brand new where people can come in and wash their clothes.”
Rapanot, an assistant power plant operator for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, said the new business represents something more than extra income. It also represents a service to the community.
“It’s something for myself, other than the regular 9-5 job,” he said. “My goal is provide the (people) of Kauai with a safe, well-maintained place to do their laundry.”
The self-service establishment, at the Royal Coconut Plaza next to Foodland in Kapaa, has eight washing machines that can hold up to 20 pounds of laundry per wash and eight Speed Queen dryers. Also included is a machine that can make change and one that sells soap.
Laundromat Express joins two other laundromats in Kapaa.
Anahola resident Denise OConnor praised the facility.
“I go to 6:30 a.m. yoga at the yellow yoga house and it’s perfect time after that to do laundry,” she said. “I think it’s lovely. It’s clean in here and the fan is nice.”
Other amenities of the new business include cable television and access to WiFi.
For Rapanot, the most challenging aspect of getting this business venture up and running was the planning process.
“The big challenge was just trying to get the plans approved to do a laundromat because it was a commercial project and I had to get a lot of engineering work done,” Rapanot said.
Another was finding a contractor to accept the job, which took Rapanot almost two years because most contractors declined to work on such a small-scale operation, Rapanot said.
“I hired Tim Sullivan general contractor to help me with build out,” he said. “I got Electra Tech to help me with all my electrical needs and Dean Marugami plumbing helped me with all the mechanical work. After a lot of blood sweat and tears, we opened on Wednesday.”