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Best Family-Owned Business 2016: Furnishing a Family Environment

It's been a family affair for over 30 years, literally!

Family photo

Doing business at Office Pavilion Hawaii is a family affair — literally. The more than 30-year-old family-owned business is now in its second generation of ownership under the leadership of Wendy Shewalter and her husband, Bruce, and her sister, Leanne Hachey.

“My sons, Joshua and Bruce, work here, too, during the summer,” Wendy Shewalter told Pacific Business News. “A lot of us have worked together from being single and now married. Two of our employees’ kids go to school with our kids at Punahou School. We have people who have been with us a long time including one who has been with us 28 years.

“A lot of the success and growth we’ve enjoyed has to do with that family-type atmosphere.”
The Honolulu-based furniture seller has 43 employees and has worked with thousands of commercial and institutional customers. It is the certified Herman Miller office furniture dealer for Hawaii and the Pacific Rim.
At one point, about 80 percent of Office Pavilion’s business came from the U.S. Department of Defense. However, it now makes up just about half.

“Leanne, Bruce and I really believe in giving back to the community,” Wendy said. “When we do have disagreements, we listen to everyone’s input and come to a consensus, which looks at what’s better for the family and company.”

Office Pavilion also does large-scale projects including space planning, project management, installation and reconfiguration.

Acquired by Wendy and Leanne’s mother, Geraldine “Gerri” Hayes in 1986, the company went through a key transition earlier this year with Wendy and Leanne taking over as majority owners.

Hayes worked for a Seattle-based medical furnishings company before moving to Hawaii to establish her own business.

“Gerri realized that she needed to sell the company, as she was stuck in limbo,” Leanne said. “It was frustrating for her and us. She realized she was destroying the family. The family was suffering. She really, courageously, stepped aside.”

From annual sales of $200,000 in 1986, the family has grown the company to more than $14 million.
Office Pavilion was the third-largest woman-owned business in the state last year, according to PBN research.
Office Pavilion has been named PBN’s 2016 Business Leadership Hawaii Best Family-owned Business.

“We have a common goal and mission and, we all realize that family comes first,” Wendy said. “That’s the biggest thing. Leanne and I purchased the company from our mom, who kept a 2 percent stake in the company. I think we understand the value of family.”

Office Pavilion celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year, at which the company emphasized the importance of family — it calls its employees part of the OP Family.

“When we moved to a smaller office space, we allowed for telecommuting, and that has been a huge benefit for some of our employees,” Leanne told PBN. “It helps with flexibility with family and uninterrupted work.”
Office Pavilion also gives each employee 16 paid days off and 10 paid holidays annually. In addition, the company brings services on-site for its staff such as personal fitness instructors and vaccination clinics, personal growth workshops, retirement counseling and a 401k matching program.

Office Pavilion believes that by focusing on taking care of its OP Family and supporting its employees to be able to take care of their own families, it has a happier, more engaged staff.

The company’s sense of pride, hard work and know-how leads to satisfied customers who come back.

“We create long-lasting relationships with our clients and they too become like our family,” the company said in its nomination. “Family is the most important and meaningful part of life. We are very fortunate to have a successful family business in which our employees, and clients, have become our family.”

Article courtesy of Pacific Business News, 11/10/2016