Congratulations to these top-tier members of the business community for their long-standing contributions to our islands.
In the current economic climate, companies on Guam and in the Northern Mariana Islands are proud to show their success and longevity in serving the people of our islands. Guam Business Magazine presents some outstanding companies that are doing business in Micronesia celebrating important milestones in 2019. Through inspiration and dedication, each of them has managed to stay on course in a region that has seen more than its fair share of challenges for decades.
These leaders in their fields have ensured quality and reliability to consumers and businesses alike and have given back to the communities in which they do business, setting an example for others to follow. Guam Business is privileged to honor these companies’ milestones and brings readers a special Corporate Anniversaries feature with a closer look at their endeavors.
Celebrating 60 Years: Hawthorne Pacific Corp.
Supporting the growth of our island communities
During the last 60 years, Guam and the region has seen tremendous growth — from increased military buildup, government improvements, new hotels to support a growing tourism industry, to improved housing and commercial spaces. Through it all, Hawthorne Pacific Corp. has been there supporting our islands’ development.
The equipment rental, sales, parts and service company has partnered with numerous businesses over the years. “We support many companies here on Guam,” says Bobby Whitworth, Pacific region manager for Hawthorne Cat. “We work closely with big construction companies that are currently involved with the military build up. Hawthorne also works closely with the tourism industry and its many hotels and restaurants by providing sales, parts and services for the emergency power generation requirements.” Other partners include Hawaiian Rock Products, Black Construction Corp., Granite/Obayashi, Watts Constructors, Green Group Holdings, the government of Guam and more.
The company opened its doors in 1959 as Pacific Machinery under Theo H. Davis & Co. Ltd. and in 2004 was purchased by Hawthorne Machinery of San Diego, Calif. to become Hawthorne Pacific Corp. Today, the business remains in its original location on Harmon Industrial Park Road in Tamuning.
Hawthorne Pacific operates under the direction of Hawthorne Cat President and CEO Tee Ness, Senior Vice President and COO David Ness, Whitworth and Guam Branch Coordinator Darrell Slyter, with 21 employees on Guam and two on Saipan. “Darrell and his team’s goals are to continue to provide the best heavy equipment and power generation equipment currently on the market to our many loyal Guam customers. Customer service and relationships come second only to our commitment to safety,” Whitworth says.
As the region continues to see increased growth in all sectors, Hawthorne Pacific will be there to continue supporting the economic development of our island communities in every capacity.
30 years of excellence in education
Sylvan Learning Center
Marie Reyes Nelson believed in the power of education and proudly served the Guam Public School System for 17 years as a teacher and principal. “Wanting to continue her passion for education upon retirement, she researched franchises and discovered Sylvan Learning Inc., the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. She was confident that the core values of Sylvan, its research-based curriculum and individualized instruction plans were exactly what Guam students needed,” says Crystal Nelson, Sylvan center director and daughter of Marie Reyes Nelson.
Sylvan Learning Center opened its doors in Hågatña in June 1989 with six employees — four teachers, an assistant and Marie Reyes Nelson at the helm. The center offered paper-based educational programs for students K-12 in reading, writing and math, and was the main proctoring center for NCLEX, TOEFL and other professional licensing exams.
From the beginning, Sylvan was successful in fostering student academic achievement. “Some students went from counting their fingers to add to mastering fractions and algebra skills with confidence and ease. Other students who couldn’t recognize the alphabets or read sight words learned how to read paragraphs or even write short stories,” Crystal Nelson says.
Students’ academic success led to the need for growth. In 1992, Sylvan opened a second location in Dededo. The second location later closed due to damages suffered by Typhoon Paka, but today, the Sylvan team has grown to 12 teachers and two assistants under Crystal Nelson’s leadership in the Hågatña location. Services have expanded to include test prep for the SAT, ACT and ASVAB, and STEM courses in robotics, game design, engineering and science for first to sixth graders. Sylvan has also embraced technological advances and now administers assessments and instructions using iPads, which provide parents with real-time reporting of their child’s progress.
Sylvan partners with many community organizations including the Guam Federation of Teachers, Public Broadcast Station, Agana Shopping Center, Foundation for Public Education and various public and private schools. The learning center also actively supports community fundraising efforts. “Sylvan has donated over 6,500 books to public elementary students and hopes to continue the campaign with collective efforts of other businesses,” Crystal Nelson says. “Sylvan has also donated thousands of toys, school supplies and learning certificates to schools for student achievement awards, PTO fundraisers, recycling competitions, school plays, Read-a-Thon, and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support programs.”
In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Sylvan will hold its 5th Annual My Favorite Teachers Awards where this year’s Top 30 Teachers will be awarded $100 to use toward any school initiative of their choice, and a set of school supplies will be given to an additional 30 teachers in a raffle. This year will also be Marie Reyes Nelson’s last, as she retires for a second time. Crystal Nelson will take over as the franchise owner and plans to continue serving the community and honoring her mother’s vision to provide quality education to help students succeed in school and life in the years to come.
Celebrating 20 years of thinking outside the bowl
Big Fish Creative
In December 1999, Jenevieve Sablan Ooka, Deanne S.N. Torre, Norman Lauron and Mieke Chamberlin opened Big Fish Creative. Three working partners along with three employees to support them made up the company’s original team. “We started out in the living room of my parents’ home in Piti with fiesta tables as makeshift desks. Deanne’s dad donated a lot of our supplies and Norm’s mom connected us to one of our charter accounts,” Ooka says.
Even in its days of inception, the advertising agency shook things up by “thinking outside the bowl.” Its first advertising campaign for a telecom company immediately grabbed the public’s attention.
“The ad series, featuring a kid using his phone as a hacky sack while his mom was on the line, caused a stir in the media. Callers on talk radio and an op-ed article raised concerns that the messaging was culturally insensitive. It definitely started a conversation with people on both sides of the issue and of course our client was thrilled with the exposure,” Ooka says. The company entered the campaign into the Guam Marketing Association awards the following year and took first place.
Big Fish has since grown to be one of the top performing full-service advertising agencies on Guam. “Our services include more than just above the line advertising and marketing,” Ooka says. “We’ve shifted our focus to internal brand strategies and external advertising, design, marketing and public relations.”
The company has partnered with big players in the region including Bank of Guam, GTA Teleguam, StayWell Insurance, AK Chevrolet, the Guam Visitors Bureau and the A. B. Won Pat International Airport. Additionally, Big Fish has worked with various retail stores and restaurants managing market entrance events and promotions for companies such as Gap, Ross Dress for Less, Chili’s Grill & Bar and Jollibee.
Outside of business, the company plays an active role in the local community. Big Fish has contributed to many youth related events and activities, partnering with local education institutes to provide student internships and other educational opportunities. Additionally, the management team has served on numerous boards and commissions including KPRG Public Radio, Guam CAHA, GHURA, Soroptimist International of Guam, April Joy Foundation, the Guam Foundation for Public Education and the Guam Center for Island Sustainability.
Twenty years later, Big Fish is no longer headquartered in Ooka’s parents’ living room and has its home office in Tamuning. The company has doubled in size, with partners Ooka, Torre and Lauron at the helm, and two of the original employees — Sharlene Deltang Guevara, finance manager, and Marisol Delin, senior art director — still with the company.
“The unwavering dedication and commitment of our team has helped to shape who we are today. Together, we’ve created a company we love and built a culture that is purpose driven and service oriented,” Ooka says.
Moving into the future, Big Fish is ready to meet the rapidly changing demands of the market by “thinking bigger to inspire others,” Ooka says. “We aim to expand our reach to become regional thought leaders in the creative industry by delivering solutions that inspire our clients, our team and our community — to think bigger through service, collaboration, and adaptability.”