Carol AI May And Steven AI

Alana Folen
Wednesday - April 07, 2010
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When it comes to home-improvement projects, repairs and maintenance, City Mill has remained a Hawaii household name since 1899, and today the Ai family continues to uphold the family business under the management of company president and chief executive officer Steven Ai and his sister Carol Ai May, who serves as vice president and marketing manager.

Most recently, the siblings were named joint award recipients of “Salesperson of the Year” for 2009 by Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI), Honolulu Chapter April 6 at its annual luncheon at the Sheraton Waikiki.

“We were shocked, frankly, because we don’t believe we belong in the league of the recipients who have come before us,” says Steven, whose grandfather Chung Kun Ai founded City Mill more than a century ago.

“We’re honored, but believe the award should be given to our City Mill team members, who are giving excellent customer service to our customers and to each other every single day,” Carol adds. “They are truly the salespeople of the century.”

As a brother-and-sister team, Steven and Carol have made extensive contributions to the Hawaii marketplace. And having remained a family owned and operated business for three generations, you could say they’ve got the business down to a science.

“Working as a team is beneficial to the company as well as to our family,” Carol says, adding, “Our father and aunt worked together. We didn’t think we would follow the same footsteps, but somehow we did.”

The Ai’s appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in March 1999 when City Mill celebrated its 100th anniversary. City Mill has eight retail stores island-wide, currently renovating the Kaimuki store to make it more shoppable and easily accessible. Other locations include Kaneohe, Nimitz, Hawaii Kai and Waianae, to name a few.

In November 2008, Steven and Carol appeared in MidWeek once again when they founded a new company called Simply Organized, a 12,000-square-foot organization and storage store, thus repositioning City Mill as a solutions store for the repair and maintenance of the home and office.

The Ai’s admit that they’ve faced the onslaught of much more competition during the past decade, but believe that the secret to City Mill’s longevity and success during these trying economic times has to do with changing with the times, holding strong to perseverance and a strong work ethic, remaining humble and honest with solid moral character, and most importantly, giving back to the community that supports you.

For more information, visit or call 533-3811.


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