Quantcast
StarBulletin.com

Get inline


By

POSTED: Sunday, April 25, 2010

Coming in at 50,000 square feet and powered by ambition—not to mention more than a thousand solar panels—there's nothing small about Richard Pentecost's small business.

Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas, or KIHA, fits the definition, though. It's run mostly by family and volunteers. His son cleans the rinks. His wife runs the snack bar. He has only one employee on his payroll.

The idea started small. In 2005 he and his son, an avid hockey player, went to the mainland.

“;I saw my youngest son get beat really bad by a tough California team. I think the score was 8-0,”; Pentecost said. “;Why would the Hawaii kids get beat like that? There had to be a better way.”;

The New Caledonia native decided to make a personal switch in his work. After seeing the trouncing his son received, he decided to go from selling cars to owning a sports arena.

First, he searched for the property. Anywhere in town was just too expensive, he said. In 2006 he bought the Campbell property and began doing research in how to run a sports facility.

               

     

 

 

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

        Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas:

       

» Where: 1057 Opakapaka St., Kapolei
        » Hours: Open hockey schedule varies. The schedule is available online at http://www.kihawaii.com.
        » Features: Two 17,000 square-foot rinks, a snack bar, vending machines, locker rooms, pro shop, and two viewing areas with bleachers and tables.
        » Information: Contact owner Richard Pentecost at 808-372-9270 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or hockey director Jason Domitrovic at 971-832-1279 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

       

He hired an architect, Mark Matsumoto, to design the building. He began back-and-forth correspondence with Jason Domitrovic of Oregon, whom he eventually hired to be his only employee as hockey director. It was Domitrovic who proposed having the facility run with solar energy.

It was that idea that sealed the deal for Pentecost to push toward his personal goal line. Many mainland facilities went belly up because of utility costs. Without the solar panels, Pentecost was facing a monthly electricity bill of up to $15,000 a month.

Pentecost contracted REC Solar Inc. to install a field of 1,170 panels for the facility's photovoltaic system, which should have no trouble catching rays in the usually sunny Leeward side.

The month before the rinks opened in the first week of April, the power bill was about $1,000. He's still waiting for the first bill since opening, but estimates put it to be about $3,000.

“;It was a major factor,”; Pentecost said. “;Now I'm probably one of the greenest facilities in the U.S.”;

Pentecost declined to comment on his investment into the facility, but he said his real challenge begins with the opening. He estimates the inline hockey population in Hawaii to be around 200. He wants to grow the sport.

“;I thought that my worries would be over when I was given the certificate of occupancy,”; he said.

He seeks to break even, and is giving himself three years to meet that goal. If he turns out a profit, he said he'll continue to reinvest in the facility.

He has several ways to go about making a profit. He has the snack bar on the upstairs mezzanine. He's setting up a full-service pro shop to sell hockey gear. Currently he sells outfits, wheels and tape, and he is expecting more gear.

He charges $5 per person for open hockey, where customers can skate around and play pickup games. If a team wants to practice, it costs $10 per person. And he collects cash from league and tournament fees.

The rink remains bare, but Pentecost said he will soon move into sponsorship and advertising. The arena already has many eyeballs passing through. Many of his younger customers, “;rink rats,”; spend most of their days after school at the facility.

“;The first Saturday was a madhouse,”; he said. “;I offered the local leagues to finish their regular season for free. There are two more weekends and they're done.”;

For now the arena has no signage, but that will change. Pentecost is also working on expanding available parking spaces to 180 from 62 by May 12.

He is relying on word of mouth to keep the business afloat, and it seems to be working. Last Tuesday morning, 30-year-old Pearl City resident Jeremy Nakamura walked into the facility because he heard about it from a friend.

Nakamura used to play in the Mililani Inline Hockey Association during high school, but hasn't picked up a stick since then. He was impressed by the facility's design and the two 17,000-square-foot rinks.

“;The sport's really going to grow here now that we have this,”; he said. “;People will be organizing more leagues. It's gonna get bigger and bigger.”;

That's what Pentecost is hoping for. He hopes to compete with mainland facilities to attract tournaments and out-of-state teams.

He describes himself as a competitive person. He was a soccer player for years and worked 20 years at Ford dealers in Hawaii.

“;The car business to me was excellent to grow and to learn,”; he said. “;I want my facility to be competitive, to be efficient. I want to make sure I don't fail. That's not my personality.”;