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Connections:Tips for Small Business Excellence
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Meg and Dave Chun Found Success Following Their Passion
Meg and Dave Chun, owners of KIALOA Paddles, are perfect examples of how following your passion pays off. Both Chuns were avid outrigger canoe racers when Dave decided he could build a better paddle. But he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quit his day job, continuing to work part-time as a social worker, as he began designing and making paddles in Hawaii.
When Meg received her masters degree in special education and started teaching in middle school, running a company that sold its products worldwide from Bend, Oregon was the furthest thing from her mind. She continued to teach for the first 10 years of the business.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had no big plan to become this business,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Meg. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been completely organic. Literally the story ofÃ¢â‚¬â€IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been doing this in my garage; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my passionÃ¢â‚¬â€and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s become what it is today.Ã¢â‚¬Â
She attributes part of the phenomenal growth and success of the company, established in 1991, to her and DaveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s background in social services. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our social background actually helps us tremendously in our current job,Ã¢â‚¬Â Meg said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a major and important player in our success.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Meg has used these skills in building strong relationships with her employees. She cited the longevity that she and Dave have with their employees as an example.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re very, very into relationships,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Really our mission is two simple words Ã¢â‚¬ËœAs One.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â
She says that comes from outrigger paddling where there are six in a canoe and you are all paddling together as one in very exact timing.
While their educational backgrounds werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in business, reading financial statements and learning about other necessary business practices were skills they knew they could learn. Meg said she acquired her business expertise from working with CPAs and business consultants, in essence going to school but just not in the traditional way.
Meg also got enormous support from her Opportunity Knocks team. In her seven years as a member, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s participated in two teams. When she first started she needed operational help and as the business has grown sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s moved into seeking support at a strategic level so she recently moved to a team with mostly CEOs and has hired an operations manager, who is also participating in an Opportunity Knocks team.Ã‚Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not trying to blow smoke when I tout Opportunity Knocks. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really been great,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
One of the biggest benefits from being on an Opportunity Knocks team Meg said is access to resources and information from other team membersÃ¢â‚¬â€help in finding someone whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in marketing, suggestions for books to read or lectures to attend are examples she gave as the kinds of resources that have helped her grow the business
When asked how she described the roles she and her husband play in the business she said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“DaveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the visionary and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m the integrator.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the creator and she focuses on the nuts and bolts of the business. Whatever you call what they do, the Chuns have certainly applied all their diverse skills and knowledge to build an extremely successful business that continues to expand.