Delivery with a smile


POSTED: Saturday, November 07, 2009

The motto at 60-year-old Hawaii Stationery is, “;If it exists, we'll deliver it.”;

Yesterday the local family run business took it further by having tuxedo- and evening gown-clad staff greet more than 1,000 guests at a red-carpet expo.

“;Our customers are the star of this show,”; said Burt Sakata, a part-owner of the company, who serves as its Maui sales representative.

The expo and the company are both good examples of the old adage, “;If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”;

Shiguto Sakata launched the business on Oahu in 1949 with a few form designs, but over time it has grown to every office product imaginable.

“;My grandfather started this business after he designed forms that were used by big mainland manufacturers and sold around the country,”; Burt Sakata said.

But as business needs changed and management of the company fell to Sakata's younger generation, the company's product line expanded, he said.

Today the company, which competes against big-box retailers like Office Max and Office Depot, offers about 30,000 products and has around 40 employees across the islands, he said. And while the company has big clients like Kamehameha Schools and Kaiser Permamente, it is built on small to medium-size businesses, Sakata said.

As the company and its product line have grown, so has the expo. Guests were greeted yesterday by larger-than-life golden Oscar icons and film rolls, couches and pedestal displays built of copy paper, mood lighting made out of recycle bins, glitzy seating stations and movie stands.

“;Our staff built these sets and made the film stations, so it took us about five months to get ready for this show,”; Sakata said, adding that setup took more than 36 hours.

Local and mainland vendors like 3M, Hewlett Packard, Sanyo, Elmers, Avery, Acco Brands and Bic wowed the crowds, too.

In addition to pens and paper, buyers could find submersible computer keyboards, a battery-operated bicycle, sleek stainless-steel copiers, micro film projectors and all kinds of germ-reducers.

Seattle-based Curtis Brake, a partner business manager for Hewlett Packard, said the show's not a tough sell because of its quality and attendance.

“;It's simply the best,”; said Brake, who attends functions all over Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii.

It's unusual to see other comparable locations offer a similar quality expo, Brake said.

“;It just shows how much they care about their customers and how much they would go the extra mile,”; he said.

The show is more about building relationships than making sales, said Stacy Sakata, the founder's grandson and company president.

Despite the company's growth, its customer focus is the same today as it was when it started, he said.

“;At this show our customers can get the solutions that they need to make their business more viable,”; Stacy Sakata said. “;They learn how to save money and be more productive.”;

It's that philosophy that has kept the company in business for so many years, said Mike Tyau, an account executive for 3M who has done business with the Sakata family for 30 years.

“;They offer good management and good customer service, Tyau said, “;and what they do here every year is unbelievable.”;

Longtime customer Joy Oda of Marcus & Associates said she's been coming to the show for more than a decade.

“;I come every year to see what's new,”; Oda said. “;I don't know how they do it, but every year it just gets better.”;