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MidWeek Staff

Waipahu Auto Shop Earns National Recognition

Rep. Sharon Har

Running a small business during these difficult economic times is a feat in itself, but adding a commitment to be environmentally responsible is a lot like hitting a home run.

Eddie and Marlene Okahara made a commitment to sustainability in their Waipahu business, and their out-of-the-box thinking in the face of an adverse economy is why I would like to shine this week’s Second City Spotlight on Oka’s Auto Body. What started as a modest auto shop between Eddie and his two brothers has flourished into an operation that serves West Oahu.

The family-run business opts for sustainable practices. It has installed solar panels on the roof to power all of the shop’s activities and converted to water-based paints, which are more environmentally friendly than traditional automotive paints. These paints also are better for worker health.

It was this sort of innovative thinking that earned Oka’s Auto Body recognition via its 2012 FIT Sustainability award, one of only three given nationally. The Okahara family understands that being sustainable is not just about taking care of the environment, but also entails a commitment to the health and welfare of their workers, while continuing to satisfy customers.

The award, “honoring businesses and organizations actively engaged in practices that advance the concepts of sustainability through … focus, innovation and talent (FIT),” was presented July 19 in San Antonio, Texas.

Success stories like this are being repeated across the country as a tribute to the innovative thinking of entrepreneurs like the Okaharas.

While the Legislature creats solutions from the top-down, businesses and individuals take the initiative and make sustainable choices from the bottom up. At its core, sustainability requires businesses and individuals to be part of the solution.

Reps. Henry Aquino and Ty Cullen and I were proud to present Oka’s with a certificate from the state House recognizing its national success as a leader in sustainability.

Contact state Rep. Sharon Har (Makakilo, Kapolei) at 586-8500.

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