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 a handful of outstanding companies that are doing business in Micronesia celebrating important milestones in 2018. 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.
A legacy of trust
When Eduardo T. “Jake” Calvo joined American International Underwriters — the international division of American International Group to become known as Calvo’s Insurance Underwriters Inc. on Guam — in 1938, little did he know of the lasting legacy he would create.
Having worked for the then Navy-operated Bank of Guam since 1926, he was encouraged by the head of the bank at that time to help the bank get insurance for a variety of business loans that it had begun to provide to people for marine cargo for goods. He took it upon himself to negotiate with AIU to become Guam’s sole agent for insurance and used that to not only still work part time at the bank to insure its assets, but for others as well.
After World War II, which interrupted the operation for a few years, ended, Calvo began to dedicate himself full-time in the late 1940s to the insurance industry, working out of the living room of his home in Agana with his wife, Veronica McDonald Calvo, by his side. In 1952 he asked his cousin, Henry Schnabel from the Philippines to take over the business for a time while he dabbled in politics and additional business endeavors on island.
“Back then it was a small operation,” says Paul A. Calvo, vice president and general manager of Calvo’s Insurance. “Uncle Henry would type the policies, he would deliver the policies — everything was just a small operation. [The company] may have been as few as six or seven employees back then.”
In 1963 Schnabel left to run AIU operations in the Philippines and left the management to Paul Souder and then Eduardo Camacho until Jake Calvo took back over in 1970. It was also in 1962 and 1963 when Guam was hit by Typhoon Karen and Typhoon Olive, and it was this that Paul Calvo describes as a launching point to the company’s success.
“Guam has a history where insurance companies come and enjoy the competition, they grow their market share and then we get hit by a huge typhoon or earthquake and then they depart. Because they feel that it’s just too volatile,” Paul Calvo says. “In ‘63 we got hit by a major typhoon that just destroyed the whole island, and AIG/Calvo’s Insurance stayed. It didn’t leave. … AIG/Calvo’s Insurance helped rebuild the island.”
Just in time for the company’s 25-year milestone, claims were paid, the island was rebuilt with stronger building standards and the company continued to grow after that. By the time Paul Calvo began working at the company in 1983, it had grown to a workforce of almost 40 employees and would only continue to grow throughout the 1980s and onward to today.
With a total of 135 current employees, much of the company’s success in the past almost 40 years can be attributed to the start of Calvo Insurance’s health insurance division and the expansion into the Northern Mariana Islands in 1990, the Philippines with SelectCare in 2005 and Palau in 2006. Together with its two main partners — AIG for general, property, casualty, home and auto insurance and Tokio Marine Insurance for its SelectCare healthcare offering — the company has grown significantly from an annual premium of approximately $250,000 in the 1960s to the largest general agency in Microneisa, says Paul Calvo. This has allowed Calvo’s Insurance to do even more to help build the community, giving back by becoming key supporters for the Guam Homeless Coalition, the Gaum Chapter of the American Red Cross and with the 2004 founding of the Edward M. Calvo Cancer Foundation, among others.
In the future, Calvo’s Insurance looks to continue to expand eventually into the Federated States of Micronesia and other islands and look for ways to upgrade its systems and become more efficient and up to date with world trends that its customers want. Paul Calvo says there’s a buzz around the islands to expand health insurance programs, and Calvo’s Insurance plans to be prepared to provide the best services when the time comes.
“We’re constantly looking in our region for opportunities that might be ripe to enter,” he said. “But that one we’ll just keep close to my desk.”
But, Paul Calvo said, there’s one key attribute that has contributed to the company’s success in the past 80 years and its prospects for the future.
“It’s the people who interact every day with our clients … our employees. From the top down, they all carry the same culture, which is to make sure that we keep our clients satisfied. And our island community has remembered us and embraced us.”
Building on legacy
Since April 23, 1963, Title Guaranty has been committed to serving the island of Guam. With 55 years of service, the company is the island’s first, oldest and most experienced title and escrow company.
“Title Guaranty’s first big project was the Kaiser subdivision. We escrowed the whole project and that event was a launching pad that put [Title Guaranty] on the map and brought in a ton of real estate work,” says General Manager Ryan Mummert.
The office was originally located in the Calvo’s Insurance and Underwriter’s Building in Hagåtña. Since then, Title Guaranty has grown to employ more than 20 people and has closed thousands of real estate transactions. Today it is housed in its own building, the Title Guaranty Building in Hagåtña, and employs 25 staff.
Title Guaranty aims to be the leading title and real estate settlement service provider in the Hagåtña area and throughout Guam by serving its customers in a professional, efficient manner with a friendly and personal touch. Through ongoing resource development, new technology, teamwork and communication, Title Guaranty aims to deliver unparalleled title service and customer satisfaction.
The company underwrites for Fidelity National Title Insurance and Chicago Title Insurance Co., and specializes in escrow services, preliminary title reports, title abstracting, chain of title research, document and map retrieval, notary services and research services. It has handled many high-profile clients, including Paradise Estates, the sale of the Guam Telephone Authority in 2005 and hotels and a golf course — though its strength is also in the residential market.
“At Title Guaranty, we are constantly striving to improve through continuous resource development, talent development and acquisition, technological innovation and through leveraged partnerships with realtors, lenders and other service providers in order to provide our customers with unparalleled service levels and value,” Mummert says. “We pride ourselves on our integrity, professionalism, reliability and resourcefulness.”
The company is committed to building lifetime relationships with customers; being technologically progressive to increase service levels and protect customers’ information; providing a comfortable, friendly environment for customers; being responsive to feedback from customers and partners; and staying abreast of the continuous changes in the real estate industry to provide the most up to date information for customers and partners, Mummert says.
Title Guaranty hosts monthly educational seminars for real estate professionals in a roundtable format. The seminars cover a wide range of topics from foreclosures to visa issues, social media marketing and commercial loans, sometimes in partnership with other companies.
It also supports many of the island’s nonprofits, including the Edward M. Calvo Cancer Foundation and the Good Neighbor Award, which promotes good citizenship around Guam. It is also looking to get involved with Habitat for Humanity as housing costs continue to rise and it becomes increasingly difficult for people to own homes, Mummert says.
“We’re established, but we’re not going to be old world, we’re going to be cutting-edge,” Mummert says. “Moving forward, Title Guaranty is embracing and adopting new technology. We’ll have state of the art tools for escrow and title. We also hope to move to a new location soon.”
Great friends for life … and so much more
It was Domie V. Bumagat Sr.’s vision and determination in creating his own company that was the original success of Great National Insurance Underwriters Inc. Beginning in September 1973, Bumagat worked tirelessly selling life insurance to achieve his dreams for his family.
As a one man show, he performed all the duties of clerk, agent, manager, underwriter, bookkeeper and janitor on his own until he was finally joined by his wife, Edarlina B. Bumagat, and two other employees.
It was while in the company’s original office, located in the spot of current Alupang Beach Towers on Marine Corps Drive, that the opportunity came to truly launch the business when Great National Insurance was appointed as a general agent for Chung Kuo Insurance Co. Ltd., one of the three largest admitted insurers on Guam.
With that, the company grew and eventually moved to the Central Lanes building in Tamuning and finally found its home along Chalan San Antonio in Tamuning, and for the past 42 years its brick-designed building has made it a landmark in the area. It also soon became a general agent of Pacific Guardian Life Insurance — a Hawaii-based insurer — adding to its growing influence.
In 1996 the torch was passed from father to son, and Domie B. Bumagat Jr. now heads Great National Insurance as its president and CEO.
Boasting 37 employees today in two locations — the second in a branch office inside the Micronesia Mall in Dededo — Great National Insurance is now a one stop shop for customers’ insurance needs and has gone from selling solely life insurance to offering property and liability insurance, surety and bonding, fidelity and crime insurance. The company is also a surplus lines broker with access to Lloyd’s of London and U.S. Excess and Surplus lines market.
“The expansion and modernization [has] made it possible for us to provide utmost quality customer service in a comfortable environment,” says Marilou L. Besagar, general manager at Great National Insurance, who has been with the company for more than 20 years and oversees the day to day operations of the company. “We are the only insurance company that is open seven days a week, including holidays, which is our response to [showing] commitment in providing convenience and ensuring that we are accessible to clients and claimants.”
But Great National Insurance doesn’t stop that commitment with its services. Great National Insurance formed a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee almost 20 years ago for the sole purpose of giving back to the community. It has been active specifically in the fight against cancer — avidly supporting Relay for Life and Guam Cancer Care, among others — as the company’s way of honoring its founder, Domie V. Bumagat Sr., who passed away from the deadly disease. But as Besagar says, “We do not set any boundaries when it comes to extending our help,” and the company also passionately supports education and has been successful in reaching schools and students with assistance and supplies in Iraq, the Philippines and Guam’s neighboring islands.
As the drivers of Great National Insurance’s commitment, Besagar believes that the staff and management team is the company’s greatest asset and that in order to deliver the highest standard of professional service a company must invest in its staffs. The management does not believe in limiting or putting its employees in a box, she said, and now and moving forward, Great National Insurance encourages all of its employees to discover their strong points and fulfill their dreams.
“Every anniversary is a new beginning,” Besagar says. “We always take this as our opportunity to improve our services.” The company is controlling its own carbon footprints by utilizing emails in sending out reminder notices and policies. It is more engaged than ever in the responsible use of social media in promoting products, services and in reaching out to potential clients.
“Trust is a key word in insurance for there are no tangible goods sold. We will continue to ensure that we deal with trustworthy partners in delivering the services to our clients, being visible in worthwhile community causes and living up to our slogan as your ‘Great Friends for life … and so much more.’”
We make moving fun!
DeWitt Transportation Services of Guam, which does business as DeWitt Guam, celebrates 35 years of helping the local community move forward with ease through its transportation services.
Founded on Sept. 23, 1983, the moving and storage company specializes in trucking services, freight forwarding, records management, hotel installations and removals, information destruction and recycling services. These services are an evolution of what DeWitt Guam initially provided when it began, according to Dewitt Guam President Corine Napoleon-Berking.
“Initially, our business was centered on the movement of military household goods to and from Guam. When we first started, the number of military personnel living on Guam was over 20,000 troops and family members. This kept us extremely busy,” Napoleon-Berking says.
The company started with just two employees under the founder, Richard L. DeWitt, and was originally located at the Cabras Warehouse in Piti, Napoleon-Berking says.
After the amount of military personnel on Guam downsized, the company looked towards other markets and realized it needed to expand off the base and into civilian areas. DeWitt Guam networked and formed partnerships from residents to corporate clients and has grown into the one of the leading companies in the industry.
The company now has 85 active employees and operates 16 trucks and eight trailers, Napoleon-Berking says. Facilities include 38,500 square feet of warehouse and office space based in Harmon Industrial Park, with an additional 60,000 square feet of rented warehouse space. The management consists of CEO John Burrows, Napoleon-Berking and Vice President and General Manager Victor Valenzuela.
DeWitt Guam’s associations and certifications speak for the company’s reputation, being listed as a Registered International Mover, Certified Professional Mover and Certified Office and Industrial Consultant. The company is also affiliated with the International Association of Movers and the American Moving and Storage Association.
The company also gives back to the community through nonprofit organizations and charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kamalen Karidat, Move for Hunger, the Rotary Club of Northern Guam, Toys for Tots, the Guam United Service Organizations, The Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society and Guam Cancer Care. DeWitt Guam is a member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Contractors Association.
At 35 years old, the company looks forward to enhance its services and capitalize on its growth as it continues to serve the island.
“We are working to advance our technology over the next few years to enhance our services. We are also looking into a new fleet of vehicles over the next year,” Napoleon-Berking says. “DeWitt Guam continually strives to be the first choice in moving on the island or anywhere else in the world.”
DeWitt Guam has sister companies in Hawaii, Alaska and California. Together, the DeWitt family of companies provides a more expansive reach of services for its customers.
Escape the ordinary
Billionaire co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers Charles Francis “Chuck” Feeney built the Pacific Islands Club Saipan in the late ‘80s under Inter Pacific Resorts Saipan Corp. The hotel did a soft opening on Nov. 15, 1988 to the booming Japanese market, later followed by Thailand, Hong Kong, Australian, Russian, Korean and now the Chinese. When it opened the company had about 200 plus employees with only 220 rooms in the existing buildings named Tinian and Rota.
As the company grew and more tourists came to Saipan in the early ‘90s, PIC Saipan added another building, the Tasi bulding, with 88 rooms in 2000, bringing the total hotel room count to 308. Around the same time, the lazy river, restaurants and kids pool were added. This year the new giant water slides opened in February.
“PIC has been very successful since the late ‘80s by focusing their strategies around taking good care of the employees and their concept of all-inclusive sports and activities with the meal package plan of unlimited buffet meal in the Magellan restaurant,” says Gloria C. Cavanagh, general manager of the hotel since February. “PIC was also the first successful hotel to launch its branding in Korea.”
PIC Saipan, together with sister hotels Kensington Hotel Saipan and Coral Ocean Golf Resort Saipan, cooperate with diverse stakeholders in Saipan. Themes of their outreach program vary from environmental preservation, public infrastructure development, supporting youth and the elders, to proliferation of good deeds. “In order to practice these, we work in a partnership with government authorities and non-profit organizations such as the Public School System, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, the Department of Public Works, the Office on Aging, the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance and others,” Cavanagh says.
PIC Saipan has recently initiated events such as the PIC Duck Race fundraising $20,000 to the Aging Center, PIC Hafa Adai 5K fundraising $8,000 to Saipan Animal Care Center and a newly built school bus shelter donation to PSS. The hotel is also one of the major donors of the annual Walkathon event by American Red Cross of the Northern Marianas Islands and Marianas March Against Cancer.
“As part of the E-Land Group Hotels, 10% of our net profits every year are given out to special community projects throughout Saipan,” Cavanagh says. “We try to give this donation to different organizations each year. This year the proceeds went to build a [$8,000] perimeter fence for Saipan Cares for Animals.”
PIC Saipan since February is operated by Micronesia Resort Inc., which had been its owner since 2012. The company is a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate, E-Land Group. The hotel now has 367 employees and 308 rooms, a water park, sports facilities including tennis courts, archery, a driving range, badminton, gym facilities, beach volleyball, water sports including sailing, kayaking and snorkeling and recently the tallest water slide in the region at six stories tall.
Helping people and businesses succeed in the workplace
On the eve of its 30th year of helping other businesses be successful through staffing services, GuamTemps remains committed to augmenting the local workforce development, whether it is for job seekers or employers.
Maureen J. Newman, founder, president and owner of GuamTemps, has been in the business of helping other businesses since August 1988. At the time, it was just Newman and her personal assistant working from the dining room of a Perez Acres residence under the name Executive Typing & Employment Services.
“[She] did not start out with a business plan or even a goal. She just wanted to help businesses who needed temporary assistance,” says Timothy R. “Tim” Shepard, vice president of GuamTemps and son of Maureen.
It did not take too long for employers to notice Newman’s exceptional skillset, harnessed from working as a legal secretary and typing for attorneys and doctors in short-term intervals. Newman expanded her network by hunting down employment advertisements in the newspapers and pitching her services.
She eventually found a comfortable business model in contacting employers and connecting them with people she personally vetted for office and administrative support services. These “temps” became an integral part of the business, of which the company is now named and known for today.
Shepard joined the team in 2012, marking a new generation of growth and opportunity for the company. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle with degrees in psychology and English literature and was deemed a certified staffing professional by the American Staffing Association in 2013.
Staying true to the principles and morals of his mother, Shepard scoped out new opportunities for GuamTemps, including jobs that took workers out of the office and onto the field. GuamTemps in 2014 secured general and skilled labor for the Dandan Inarajan Solar Field project — a testament to the company’s expansion and adaptation of services.
Now with a team of at most eight employees and an office located in the East-West Business Center in Upper Tumon, Shepard says he is ready to extend the company’s reach into previously untouched industries.
“We’re also continuing to develop our workforce readiness and the breadth of human resources-related services we provide which just may include some new business ventures starting up here in the very near future,” he says.
What once was an agency for temporary office support hires, GuamTemps now touches on industrial, retail and hospitality-related services. The business has connected with local, international, public, private and nonprofit organizations and boasts of flexible staffing service to fit a business’s needs, whether it is for a small business or large-scale company. Shepard says the business is especially interested in being a resource to the public education system.
But the company’s overall focus remains the same, Shepard says, and that is “seek to help people and businesses succeed by always focusing on doing the right thing, regardless of the cost.”
Keeping Guam and Micronesia safe
On Oct. 26, 1993, the late Joseph E. Dela Cruz started his business as F.A.C.S. Inc., which now does business as Fire-Comm, to fulfill the need of a Simplex-branded local fire alarm systems supplier and installation technician. Several construction projects awarded to local general contractors at the time needed fire alarm systems services, and as Dela Cruz had experience in low voltage electrical work, he was approached by a local contractor about becoming a Simplex representative.
Dela Cruz took the opportunity and obtained factory training in Simplex equipment and was authorized to become the sole distributor for Guam and later to include all of Micronesia. Simplex, known for the creation of the time recording system, manufactures various fire alarm and building systems since the 1950s. Since 2000, Simplex is part of Tyco International, a global leader in the fire protection and security solutions industries.
After the initial launching of the company, the factory training for fire alarm system had opened doors for training in other types of low voltage systems. Soon thereafter, requests for jobs needing those systems increased, and the company grew to meet customer needs.
Fire-Comm has expanded to a wide variety of sales, services and integration of different low voltage systems to include fire alarm communication systems, Bell-Clock systems, intercom and paging systems, nurse call systems, closed-circuit television, security systems, FM200 systems, kitchen suppression systems and fire extinguishers. In addition to Simplex systems, Fire-Comm uses Honeywell Farenhyt Series addressable fire alarm control panels for advanced fire protection and System Sensor fire and life safety devices.
The company also values its ties with the local community.
“Fire-Comm fully supports a local church in the proclamation and dissemination of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ fulfilling the ministry of reconciliation to lost souls. The restoration of the individual soul to a right relationship with God benefits the family which ultimately brings about building a strong community,” says Melissa D. Mendiola, office administrator and customer sales and services support for the company.
Since Dela Cruz’s passing in 2011, the company has focused on restructuring and keeping the business going in times of change, led by Joseph’s wife Debra H. Dela Cruz and their son James. What started with two employees has now grown to eight — the company has four technicians and two more in training. Fire-Comm is now a women-owned/minority business.
“Our mission is to provide the highest level of service available through our commitment to customer satisfaction, quality products and services,” Dela Cruz says. “Our success in providing the latest fire and security in a cost effective and efficient way comes from our commitment toward quality and excellence.”
Leading Guam’s real estate industry
Today’s Realty was founded in 1998 by LG&G Corp., John Lin and Anthony Godwin, with the goal to help clients with all of their real estate needs. “This goal is shared by everyone associated with Today’s Realty,” says Godwin, president and principal broker.
The company’s first office was a little more than 300 square feet, which the three shared. Today, its offices comprise nearly 7,000 square feet with 42 employees and real estate agents at its 1700 Army Drive location at the juncture of three of Guam’s largest villages — Dededo, Barrigada and Tamuning.
The real estate company leads the market, averaging nearly 20% of total market share of sales reported to the Guam Multiple Listing Service for the past five years, according to its website.
“Charles Branson once said, ‘take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.’ From day one, our company has taken this to heart,” Godwin says. “We have the best trained, dedicated and happiest team in the industry.” Today’s Realty uses training tools based on company-authored programs, industry-leading programs from such organizations as the National Associations of Realtors, the Institute of Real Estate Management, Buffini & Co. and others.
“We provide our members with the best tools available to help them provide top-notch customer service,” Godwin says.
The innovative group of realtors has adopted various technologies and processes to keep the team connected to each other, to its business partners and its clients. “We have the most popular website in the industry: guamhome.com. We have the number one real estate news source in the industry: todaysguamhome.com. We’ve brought and will continue to bring many exciting industry firsts to our marketplace,” Godwin says.
Today’s Realty specializes in property management, recreational properties, vacation properties, waterfront and beach properties.
The company also partners with many local organizations and companies. “We work with all lenders, escrow and title companies, surveyors, architects, engineers, insurance companies, home inspectors, contractors, furniture and appliance stores, locksmiths and many others — the list of folks involved in a real estate transaction is amazingly endless,” Godwin says.
Today’s Realty is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Guam Association of Realtors, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Contractors Association and the Guam Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It also supports various organizations and causes, such as Skip Entertainment Co., golf tournaments, soccer clubs, athletic events, the Mayor’s Easter Egg Hunt, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, the Edward M. Calvo Cancer Foundation and others.
“Our company motto is ‘Guam is our home. We would love to make it yours!’ We take this to heart. Every day we are reminded of the beautiful place we call home and the opportunity to share this with others — whether it’s a home for your family, your business or your organization — the people of Today’s Realty are here for you,” Godwin says. “We will continue to do what we do best.”