General manager Neu-Wa O'Neill is inside one of the tents on display inside Powder Edge at Ward Village Shops. It is a two-man tent from Sierra Designs that only weighs 4 1/2 pounds.

Outdoor gear expert
is one happy camper

My hobbies are surfing, snowboarding, hiking, backpacking and traveling, so it's a natural fit for me to be working at Powder Edge, a truly innovative outdoor gear store. The owner of Powder Edge, Toru Otani, has fostered a great work environment that is focused on three goals: customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and quality products. Because of the respect and care that he has given to everyone who works here, we have a very low turnover rate. That is something that I am very proud of as general manager.

Neu-Wa O'Neill

Title: General manager

Company: Powder Edge

Origins of his name: Neu-Wa is American Indian and means "wolverine," says O'Neill, who was born in Canada but has called Hawaii home since age 17.

The quality of life is more important to me than material aspects. Our customers and staff are active in all kinds of outdoor and travel activities. If we can provide services and products to people to help them enjoy life, then I can feel good about the business aspect as well.

We have people who have been shopping with us for years and are like family. One of the most fun things for me is helping local people prepare for their first trip to snow country. We answer all of their questions and make sure they're ready to handle the cold.

I also support companies like Patagonia that give a lot back to the environment by donating money to environmental groups and using environmentally sensible fabrics, such as organic cotton, hemp and recycled fleece. My goal is to increase Powder Edge's work with the local environmental community. We will be doing several events and promotions with the Hawaii Nature Center to help raise money for their important work with Hawaii's keiki. I believe that all businesses have a responsibility to nurture the earth for future generations. Profits aren't much good if we have so destroyed our environment that we can no longer enjoy it.

Another goal is to grow our Internet business and market on the neighbor islands and eventually add a retail presence on the Big Island and/or Maui.

I guess you can say I'm a pretty happy camper who has found his niche.

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