West Sider Angela Leone wins Small Business Person of the Year Award
LAHAINA – Angela Leone, Coconut Condos CEO and the 2019 recipient of the Maui County Small Business Person of the Year Award, was a sponsor at the third annual Hawaii Small Business Conference (HSBC). Presented by Maui Economic Development Board with the support of the Maui County Office of Economic Development, the HSBC was held on May 8-9 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Coinciding with National Small Business Week, the event recognized the contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners in Hawaii and nationwide.
The conference program provided small businesses with the rare opportunity to increase their business knowledge and sharpen their professional skills. Meeting with business leaders and other community members offered additional insights into key topics – especially during the second day workshops.
“I have attended the HSBC for the last three years,” Leone said. “I believe professional development is important for my staff and I to stay current and relevant. We attend our industry’s national conferences every year on the Mainland; however, the HSBC is so valuable and unique as it addresses Hawaii’s specific business challenges. Coconut Condos chose to be a sponsor of the HSBC after having attended the last two years and seeing the value in an event like this on Maui.”
Leone transformed her side business of a single vacation rental in 2011 into a thriving company that now manages 60 rentals on Maui. After one hears her business philosophy, it is perfectly clear why she is the 2019 Maui Small Business Person of the Year.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat of America,” said Leone, who was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. “The better we do, the better our nation does. I grew up seeing the pros and cons of owning your own business, and at the end of the day, the buck stops with you as the owner. The property management business can be a grueling, grinding, competitive industry. I would say that Coconut Condos’ secret to success is knowing why we’re doing what we do. We have to make a profit to pay our staff and serve our guests and owners, but we can choose to use our profit and influence for good – to help others.”
The Coconut Condos mission statement keeps aloha at the core of what they do. They treat their guests with aloha, their owners as partners, their team as ohana and their community with kuleana.
“Serving with aloha means to serve with love and compassion,” Leone noted. “Aloha spirit is what we strive for every day at Coconut Condos, not only in the services that we offer our guests and owners, but also in the way that we work together as a team and interact with our local community. We intentionally strive to spread aloha through giving back.”
For Leone and her team, this means that as a small business, it is not only their kuleana but their privilege to give back to the community. Their charitable plan is set up strategically to include local, national and international giving.
“We have been blessed with so much, and it is our desire to use our business to improve the lives of others,” Leone explained. “Giving is a core part of our vision at Coconut Condos and has contributed to our success. We realize that through employee motivation, job satisfaction and knowing that what we do day in and day out has more meaning beyond our daily grind.”
Coconut Condos may be a small business; however, the company built a large platform for generosity and compassion. Leone found that the cost of living on Maui and homelessness go hand in hand, so locally they focus on those particular issues.
“Some specific ways we have found to help the community are through the Maui Food Bank,” said Leone. “We leave a reusable bag in the property with a sign and instructions for our guests to donate their nonperishable food, which is brought back to the office by our inspectors, kept in the Maui Food Bank bin in our warehouse and picked up regularly.”
Additionally, the staff serves a monthly pizza night dinner at the Ka Hale a Ke Ola homeless shelter on the West Side. They donate a percentage of their profits and used furniture to the Maui Habitat for Humanity chapter and recently participated in a build-a-thon for a local family. The condo team keeps a bin of all damaged and stained linens and gives a monthly donation to the homeless through a community care-van group called A Cup of Cold Water.
The national organization Leone has partnered with is Dream Foundation. It is similar to Make-a-Wish, but it is for terminally-ill adults wanting to take one last vacation with their family.
“It’s such an honor to be part of these Dreamers’ lives when their days on Earth are numbered,” said Leone. “We receive a request for a dream and then reach out to our owners for a condo donation. Our team then finds out what the Dreamer is interested in doing here on Maui, and we contact our fellow community business owners to plan the trip of a lifetime. We have had numerous local West Maui business owners donate to these Dreamers over the years.”
In January 2017, Coconut Condos embarked on the global aspect of their giving plan with Compassion International. They committed to supporting one child in poverty for every property that they manage.
“We currently sponsor 60 children in 24 different countries,” Leone noted. “Each employee has six children that they write to. We have quarterly letter writing parties following our staff meeting, and we provide info in each vacation rental about the sponsored child, so that guests know that their stay is helping to support a child in need.”
During the summer of 2017, the Leone family visited Ecuador and met two of their Compassion International children. After that amazing experience, they committed to meeting all of their 60 sponsored children.
This past summer, they travelled to El Salvador and Honduras to meet some of the sponsored children, and this summer they will be visiting ten children in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. They’ve also committed to taking staff members along on summer child visits.
When asked what the 2019 Small Business Person of the Year Award meant to her, Leone replied, “I am completely humbled and thankful for this award. Only God could have imagined and planned that a bilingual speech pathologist with no business background would one day be the CEO of a successful property management company on the island of Maui.”
She added, “I would never have dreamt eight years ago, when I started this little side business with two little babies in tow, that I would end up here. If you are just starting, keep at it. Work hard, hire smart and enjoy it along the way. Figure out what is meaningful to you and make that your focus and motivation every day.”
Leone concluded, “Every win is a team win. I wish the title was Small Business of the Year rather than Small Business Person of the Year. No business arrives at its success alone but shares in the win as a team. This award is the result of our amazing, dedicated staff committed to excellence and to pursuing our mission. Wouldn’t it be amazing if all small business owners could make a pledge to be world changers and make using businesses a social enterprise for helping others? It is my hope and dream that this would become a growing movement in our country, part of what we do as small business owners.”
To contact Coconut Condos, visit www.coconutcondos.com, or call (808) 419-1000. To contact CEO Angela Leone, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to follow the Leone family’s Compassion International travels, follow her on Instagram at @msangieleone.