Keeping Family Business Afloat
A passion for boating and the drive to succeed has opened up a world of possibilities for Tuoi Agon, who in 2008 started a business with boyfriend Terry Conden called Agons TC Marine & Cargo Global Marine Surveyors. Today, Agon’s sons Khai and Toan have joined the team.
“We travel to wherever the boats are docked to do inspections,” Khai explains. “Our business is kind of like a home inspection for boats.”
Together the Agons and Conden provide boat surveys, which include checking safety equipment, machinery, electronics and the integrity of the boat, along with the proper documentation for the boat owners and insurance companies. In addition, they grant Coast Guard certifications and mooring inspections, as well as dry-dock inspections.
Depending on what it is the boat owner needs, inspection rates cost $750 and up.
“We mainly deal with commercial fishing vessels and pleasure craft, but aren’t limited to these types of boats,” Khai says. “There are a lot of safety and risk factors for insurance companies that insure these vessels, so that’s why boat inspections are necessary.”
Business opportunities in the fishing community are rapidly expanding for Agons TC Marine & Cargo Global Marine Surveyors, especially among the Vietnamese vessels, thanks to Tuoi’s ability to communicate fluently with Vietnamese boat owners and crew. Currently, Khai and Toan also are learning to speak the language in order to help with other business ventures.
“My mom was born and raised in Vietnam and moved to Hawaii in 1975 with just $121 in her pocket, and she raised my brother and me as a single mom,” Khai says, noting that his mother obtained her U.S. citizenship soon after arriving in Hawaii. “She worked two jobs for most of her life, giving us the best life possible, and also taught herself how to speak English.
“While in Vietnam, our mom spent a lot of time with her dad walking on the docks and looking at all the boats - she always dreamed of living on a boat.”
Khai says all of his family members are boating enthusiasts, and Conden has been involved with the marine industry for more than 30 years, having previously owned a boat-surveying company.
“Owning our own business has been a great opportunity for my family to remain close-knit,” Khai adds. “As with any business, a lot of time and hard work have gone into making our business a success this far, and we are known for our family values and honest work ethic.”
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