Our Islands, Our Future

Bill and Maureen MarrsThe New Year is a time of renewed optimism, and for all of us, including business, to look ahead. Small businesses are key players in economic sustainability, as the Focus Maui Nui process has verified. Bill and Maureen Marrs believe being in business means respecting and taking care of people—starting with the people closest to them, their children.

Those personal values are the key reasons their Marmac Ace Hardware Store will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2011 after being named the 2010 SBA Family-Owned Business of the Year for Maui County. The 4th generation of the Marrs-McCurdy family is working at the store, alongside several dozen other employees who might as well be family.

Running a successful small business takes a personal commitment to customers, but also to employees. It also takes flexibility to adapt to changing economic conditions while understanding what the customer needs – even if the customer doesn’t know. The key is having staff that knows.

“Among my employees, we have 150 diplomas in trades. Everybody is certified in my plumbing and electrical sections. All the employees in the departments not only have know how to sell it, they have to know how to replace it,” Marrs says. It means providing training for the staff, providing compensation and benefits that keep them onboard and respecting their opinions, he says.

“I think we have it right with the campaigns to buy locally and to support home-grown businesses. You want to keep the money here on Maui, where the dollars are spent again right here on the island,” says Marrs. “I believe in leadership. I believe if somebody else has a better idea, we’ll go with that idea. I believe you respect and reward your employees.”