All Fired Up Over A Grand Opening
Firefighters John Pregil and Kevin Miller had a dream 14 years ago of sharing their love and knowledge of surfing with the rest of the world. Their goal was to teach surfing to visitors in a safe and culturally sensitive environment.
In 1999, Pregil and Miller turned that vision into reality when they launched Hawaiian Fire Surf School, and almost instantly, it became one of the top surf schools in the state.
The partners took great care in building their brand as a trusted and family-oriented business. Hawaiian Fire soon found itself featured in numerous local and national publications and programs, including Travel Channel’s Wild on E! and Travel & Leisure. Its reputation as the premier surf school in Hawaii also paved the way for it to be named the official surf school for Disney’s animated movie Lilo and Stitch.
And it was during their humble beginnings when Pregil and Miller learned something else about their business adventure. Their customers made it very clear from day one.
“When we started our surf school 14 years ago, customers kept telling us, ‘You guys need to make T-shirts,’” laughs Pregil. “There’s something about Hawaii firefighters teaching surfing and sharing the fire-fighters’ lifestyle that people wanted to be a part of.”
So Pregil and Miller designed T-shirts with the company’s logo, and it was a smashing hit. The demand for more firefighter lifestyle-inspired apparel and other accessories was increasing by the day. Pregil says it was impossible to ignore. The company’s retail business was exploding.
“We started off working out of a small space on Campbell Avenue in Kapahulu,” says Pregil, a 24-year veteran of Honolulu Fire Department. “But over the last few years, our surf school business started shifting to Ko Olina. The success out there made it easier to make the decision to take our brand to a different level and give it a real chance.”
That day has arrived. On Saturday (Sept. 7), from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Hawaiian Fire will open its brand-new retail store at Ko Olina Center. Pregil says they received a warm reception during the store’s soft opening July 16 and are hopeful for the same energy during the grand opening.
“We think this is a good fit for us,” says Pregil, who is now a fire captain with HFD. “We are unique; there’s nobody around like us, especially on this side of the island. We do a lot of work with Aulani Resort and Ko Olina, and we have our vans running there. They’re like billboards on wheels.”
There will be live music at the grand opening, along with prize giveaways. Everyone will be offered a 15 percent discount on regularly priced merchandise. Pregil says the Ko Olina store is the result of their passion and training as fire-fighters coupled with their love of the ocean and outdoors.
“These are two distinct businesses, and we are grateful for the support we’ve received from the community and our families,” says Pregil. “Kevin and I scratch our heads at how blessed we are. Our wives (Dale Pregil and Wisa Miller) have been super supportive of what we do. Otherwise, we’d be two firemen running into each other.”
Today, the surf school employs 25 people, most of whom are firefighters; eight others are in the retail operation. Miller continues to work out of the Wailupe fire station, while Pregil works at the fire headquarters in Kakaako.
“Firefighting has provided us with excellent careers, and we especially appreciate the support of the department for Hawaiian Fire,” says Pregil. “We are extremely excited about taking this next step. We can’t believe this day has arrived.”
For more information about Hawaiian Fire, visit the company’s website: hawaiianfire.com.