We talk to so many amazing contracting and facility management companies and time and time again we are most impressed by one thing: giving back. At CGP, this is our main goal in our business and our personal lives, so we always want to plug and support other companies doing the most to improve the world around them. When we sat down with Michael Baldwin from Hawai`i Unified, we quickly realized that this was one of those companies down in our southernmost US state, and we’re talking about more than the free mai-tais they were handing out at the Denver conference.
Hawai`i Unified is a General Contractor company holding licenses for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, commercial doors, and roofing. Getting their start in the early 2000s, they evolved to one of the largest companies of their kind in Hawaii. This growth is faced with challenges unique to their market, Hawaii.
When we think about growth, we on the mainland are considering things like additional drive-time to a different city or state even. Hawai`i Unified is committed to growth in the midst of traveling to completely different land masses. In order to be serving every island, Michael reminds us that they have to have infrastructure on each one. This means more resources for trucks, buildings, work force, etc.
While we’re talking about work force, Michael mentions that this can be a challenge too. Hawaii is a very low-unemployment economy, so when thinking about things like staffing, Hawai`i Unified has to compete in the workforce for good employees in ways that we on the mainland do not. The workforce is also very committed to what Sean and Michael refer to as the “Aloha Culture,’ which means that they are committed to serving the community and the earth alongside earning a living.
When facing these challenges, in order to grow as a company, we have to grow in things like sustainability, community empowerment, energy savings, and more. Hawai`i Unified sets an amazing example of this in a couple of different areas:
Giving back to Their Community
We’ve already talked about giving back to the community where staffing is concerned, but Hawai`i Unified takes it a step further by committing to education in trades. They created the Makaha Learning Center, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering people to learn trade skills and not just adhere to the belief that they must go to a 4-year college in order to be siccessful. In an economically-depressed area, “a center where high-school kids and even graduates can come to learn trades, and specifically can learn trades that we have established within our company” is huge, Michael expresses. The master tradesmen within Hawai`i Unified are committed to giving back by passing on their knowledge and skills to people who can earn an honest living in what is coming to be considered as a dying industry.
“The average age of tradesmen in the United States is now over 50. So at some point in time, [we] as a community of facility professionals or in construction, we’re not going to have the people available to do these jobs if we don’t teach them.”
Giving back to The Earth
In the state with the highest energy crisis in the nation, Hawai`i Unified not only has to grow in energy savings, they want to. We already mentioned that Aloha Culture, and this means that they are embracing a conservation business model. One of the biggest ways the company is doing this is by becoming proficient in solar panel technology. Michael expresses that the environment for renewables in Hawaii is awesome, and they are certainly hopping on that bandwagon. Hawaii has a mandate to be 100% renewable by 2045, and Hawai`i Unified is here for it. As Michael says:
“It aligns with the island lifestyle. Obviously we want keep our state as clean as possible, not be putting back emissions into the environment, keeping the oceans clean. It’s all very important to our culture and to our home.”
We absolutely loved our chat with Michael, and it is of utmost importance that we are contractors and facility management professionals follow in their footsteps to promote the community around us and this beautiful world we live in. CGP is here for this, are you?