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Thursday, August 19, 2004
The many types and subjects of maps Nielsen has produced are at www.frankosmaps.com. Only the Hawaii maps are a joint production between Cannon and Nielsen.
"All these maps are a work in progress. If we can improve them, we will," Cannon said. However, he's especially proud of his cartographer-partner Nielsen's work on the Waikiki portion of the Waikiki and Oahu Guide map. It bears clear instructions and freeway map insets, advising visitors on getting into and out of Waikiki. As for navigating around all the road work, visitors and kamaaina alike are on their own.
An avid mountain biker, Nielsen started making topographical maps of biking trails in California in 1992. As he did the work by hand and had a full-time job, the first two maps took a year to complete.
By 1999 Nielsen had begun using a computer to create more maps. Then, Nielsen accidentally crashed his mountain bike on a steep trail in California. His serious injuries required a long convalescence, during which he learned more skills and made more maps, including some of Hawaii.
In November 2000, he quit his civilian job certifying weapons testing systems for the Navy.
"The accident made me realize my mortality and that I can't stand being bored to death at my job," Nielsen said.
Nielsen and Cannon were introduced on Oahu following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, because Nielsen was unable to leave Honolulu for several days.
Cannon's company has been a publisher, wholesale distributor and importer of products from postcards to coffee table books since 1972 and through about two degrees of separation, they met.
The joint venture was discussed, the two shook hands and nearly 200,000 maps later the two split expenses and profits. "Hawaii is somewhere around half my total business (volume)," Cannon said.
The partners publish recreational maps in both folded and laminated formats for the islands, the guide map of Waikiki and Oahu and so-called "fish cards."
The laminated cards feature Hawaiian reef creatures divers are likely to encounter and are hole-punched for stringing onto a lanyard.
The recreational maps are big sellers at Aaron's Dive Shops in Kailua, according to Scott Shelley, manager of training and education.
"People come from the mainland and get disoriented (about where they are on the island) and Franko's maps are just really easy to read," he said.
The maps are also a helpful classroom tool and "we keep them in our vans as well. They list the Waikiki hotels and with so much construction, it's easy to navigate with," said Shelley.
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