Otsuka's Furniture & Appliances is a 32 employee family business located in Kapaa, Kauai. The President and Owner is Jeanette Otsuka Chang, who prior to her entry into the business world just four years ago, was a teacher of some 21 years at Punahou. Jeanette noted in our interview with her that perhaps one advantage she had was coming into the business knowing nothing.
Jeanette truly believes that if all time and attention is invested in employees, all other things such as company profits will fall in place. She stated in her application, "It is important for me as a mother and former educator to let my employees know that their family MUST come first before work."
Examples of her support of employees include very generous employee benefits including a company paid life-insurance policy for every employee in the company-a virtually unheard of employee benefit. When she first took over the company she noticed employees were not eating well or on a timely basis so now she cooks lunch for her employees and customers alike. Her phone receptionist noted to our site visitor that frequently customers will call and ask if Jeanette is cooking that day so they can visit the store shortly before lunch, when all customers are invited to break bread with the employees. (Our site visitor noticed the lunch of the day was a well-attended corned beef and cabbage.) For delivery and staff whose location is different from the main show room, they are treated to weekly lunches "on the house."
Managers are salaried but share in the overall success of the company through commissions based on total volume. They are also rewarded with bonuses, gasoline allowances, appliances and furniture for their homes, or company cars/trucks for their use.
And, for examples of community involvement: any new furniture in the sales room not turned over within 90 days is moved to a warehouse and sold at substantial discounts significantly helping low-income individuals. During a recent sale, when delivering new furniture, their delivery people picked up discarded furniture and the beds were given to the Adult Shelter for Abused Women while the rest of it was donated to Habitat for Humanity. To illustrate how far she and her business have come in four short years, Jeanette just returned from Washington D. C. where she received the Small-Business Administration award as Hawaii's Small Business Person of the Year and the co-winner of the Healthy Workplace Awards!
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