Monday, January 18, 1999

Name: Ted Takai Jr.
Age: 57
Education: Roosevelt High School
Occupation: President, Royal Adventure Travel
Hobbies: Family

Boss values staff as family

At some companies, the boss might take you out to lunch for a job well done. At Royal Adventure Travel, President Ted Takai Jr. makes or buys lunch for his workers every day.

He also makes sure his 30 employees have coffee in the morning, turkeys on Thanksgiving, presents at Christmas -- and even free vacation trips at times.

"You treat your employees like family. I put them first," he said. "If you treat them how you want them to treat your customers, then they will follow through."

It's a way of doing business that has paid off for his company in low employee turnover and high customer satisfaction, he said.

Some of his workers have been with him since the company opened in 1976.

Last month, Takai won the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relation's Laulima Award, which recognizes employers who significantly promote and improve the special quality of life and work in Hawaii.

The state described Takai as "a cherished boss who exemplifies aloha, integrity, compassion and fairness to his employees."

Said 18-year employee Caroldean Fisher: "I wanted to nominate Ted because he has such a big heart."

Fisher said Takai also devotes time and money to Hawaiian causes, scholarships and organizations. Company employees adopted residents at Lunalilo Home at Christmas and bought presents of muumuus, hairbrushes and other items the residents needed.

As for lunch every day, Fisher said, the gesture makes Takai's employees feel appreciated, and also means someone is always there to answer the phone during the noon hour. Takai said he developed his business style through a management training program at Bank of Hawaii and because of his experience with a bad boss.

"You learn what not to do," he said of the latter experience.

"I cannot take care of my employees knowing that I'm well taken care of and my employees are not."

By Craig Gima, Star-Bulletin

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