A Unique Place To Do Business

Larry Price
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Wednesday - June 20, 2007
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Hawaii is often referred to as a unique place, not only to live, but to do business.

Just in the last couple of weeks we have witnessed some very strange events. A very popular restaurant in a seemingly perfect location closed its doors: TGIF on Ward Avenue and King Street. It wasn’t making money because of a shortage of customers and poor parking conditions. Who would have thought? What happened to the saying that success in a small business is largely dependent on location, location, location?


The real shocker was that go! Airlines was selling one-way tickets to the Neighbor Islands for $1! When is the last time anyone has heard of $1 one-way airfares? Many question if this is really the right way to do business in the Aloha State. Is this kind of business bringing in investment money or chasing it away? We’ll see.

Also, in an amazing announcement, the popular South Korean rock star, Rain, decided that he was not going to perform at Aloha Stadium, leaving thousands of loyal fans shocked and hurt. To make it worse there was no explanation (as of this writing) why the concert was canceled. Are the Koreans upset at the way we do business at the Aloha Stadium? They couldn’t be, since they just purchased an acre of land on Kapiolani Boulevard to build a luxury condominium at the cost of $26 million.

Throw in the high cost of gasoline and weird laws, and Hawaii is surely earning its label of being a unique place to do business. From the Big Island and its strange zoning regulations to the Hawaii Superferry’s encounter with the state Legislature, we are becoming more difficult to understand.

Our labor laws, most of which were written by labor leaders, are very employee-oriented. U.S. managers may be most concerned with getting the job done and maintaining steady increases in productivity.

The record shows that Chinese managers are most concerned with maintaining a harmonious environment. Hispanic managers generally are more concerned with establishing trusting, long-lasting relationships based on friendship.

More socialistic countries, such as Sweden, favor policies that prevent unemployment, and with our super-low unemployment, should feel right at home in Hawaii’s business environment.

Mexican labor costs have been traditionally low and as a result can allow for inefficiencies of labor, while German labor costs are traditionally high and Germans consequently have to focus on efficiency.


The German labor law requires that workers have a vote in setting policies, while in Japan, the employees do not have a say, but the government might have a say in establishing policies.

It is said that we are the most isolated business community in the world, and indeed we don’t seem to be influenced by anyone. That may be why the best label for our business environment is unique. We’ve apparently earned it.

Hopefully, some day in the near future, our consumer behavior patterns will be like others and we will achieve the distinction of being considered a global market instead of a unique market.

This would be a good thing to consider, since marketers from around the world have much more interest in group market behavior than individual, or “unique"behavior.

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