Kama’aina means “child of the land” in Hawaiian and generally refers to long-term residents of the state, regardless of their race or background.
For Joseph Hawk, general manager of Kama’aina Motors in Hilo, Hawaii, kama’aina also means family.
“Translate that to family Nissan, family motors,” Hawk said in this NADA video. “It’s really about the people. That’s what our culture really is about. I always have a strong belief that the company needs to take care of the people and in turn the people need to take care of the company. It’s always a two-way street to make the relationship work.”
Hawk, who is native Hawaiian, said “being a Pacific Islander in the industry… honestly, to me it’s a big honor.” Part of that honor is the ability to carry on the traditions and business practices of his mentor, Brian Kitagawa, the late owner of Kama’aina Motors.
“He saw something in me, took me under his wing and started training me,” Hawk said. “To this day, he’s still my mentor, still my idol. And I try to do everything—even though he’s not here—to make him proud. To let him know his business is in good hands with me.”
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To celebrate, NADA is sharing the stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in the auto industry.
Watch the video to see how Hawk got into the auto industry, his career path to GM and what he hopes to give back to the employees of Kama’aina Motors.
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