McKenna money to shine in Hawaii tills
Downturn be darned, employees of auto dealer Mike McKenna
will strike gold today.
Put the phone down. Your columnist is not in possession of a divining rod that locates veins of Au, Ag, Pt or other precious metals underground. (Gold, silver and platinum, in case you've killed the brain cells holding your periodic table of elements lessons
McKenna is going to distribute 75 gold-colored Presidential $1 coins to each of the 80-some employees at Mike McKenna's Windward Ford today for two reasons: to celebrate his 75th birthday May 19 and to spread some visible economic stimulus around the community.
He's calling it "McKenna's Gold."
May is "Gold Month" according to the World Gold Council, largely a promotional campaign to increase jewelry sales, especially for Mother's Day and graduations, as reported in National Jeweler, an industry publication.
However, the Presidential $1 coins get their gold tone from their composition of manganese and brass, according to the U.S. Mint Web site.
McKenna is going to encourage everyone to spend the coins, he said, and figures 60 to 70 percent of them will show up in Kailua, because that is roughly the percentage of his staff that lives in the area.
The spending will definitely be visible, as "it is an oddity to be paying for something in gold coins," McKenna said.
His employees always throw him a birthday party so he thought he would give back to them this year.
He got the idea from his time as a U.S. Marine. A base commander once had troops paid in $2 bills so that when they were spent, the community could see the Corps' contribution to the area.
"I was at Camp Pendleton when they did that in Oceanside," he said. It got front-page coverage in the paper. "I can remember the headline, 'Do we appreciate our Marines?' " he said.
There had been some negative stories involving Marines so the pay-ploy was intended as an image lift, "and it worked," McKenna said.
McKenna, however, doesn't need image repair. He has donated 28 cars to schools to boost attendance at Project Graduation and gave $1 million to schools in the form of 10,000 $100 checks in his customers' names.
In the economic nosedive after 9/11, McKenna pulled another stimulus stunt by giving employees early Christmas bonuses in November ranging from $50 to $5,000, telling them to "go out and spend it right away," he told TheBuzz at the time.
"We got a lot of feedback on it," he said yesterday. "We sold some cars, too."
So, giving away money is a good business model? "I think it is," he said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org