By Morgan Legel
In a normal year, sans COVID-19, each fall Guam Business Magazine receives nominations for the Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year from employees at the Nominee companies, executives in the business communities of our region, civic organizations and every other constituency affiliated with the islands.
Because gatherings of more than a handful of people are prohibited by Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero (as it happens the 2010 Executive of the Year), Guam Business had to make other plans than its “normal” when it comes to the 2020 Executive of the Year festivities.
With 37 years of recognizing exceptional executives throughout the islands of Micronesia under its belt, Guam Business is taking a step back from parts of the program due to the ongoing pandemic.
With 2020 being the first year without an Executive of the Year recognized since the inception of the program, Guam Business thought this time would be perfect to visit with the previous 38 executives that brought us through the 37 years of the program to today. (In 2004 there was a tie, with two Executives of the Year named.)
We also asked some of the previous awardees to share their own sense of accomplishment, as well as their forward-looking thoughts on the economies of the islands.
Robert H. Jones
Then (1983): EVP and chief operating officer, Jones & Guerrero Co.
Now: CEO and chairman, Triple J group of companies in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia and beyond – including Triple J Auto Group, Triple J Food Group, Triple J Restaurant Group and Triple J Real Estate & Development Group
Significant and recent accomplishments: “The enjoyment of building the Triple J businesses with my wife, Margaret, and my family members and providing jobs for 1,000 employees in Guam and Micronesia; plus, consistently remaining in the top two or three companies in revenue in the islands each year. Personally and recently, receiving an honorary PHD from the University of Guam in recognition of contributions to growth of the region.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “In general, the economy will do very well in 2021, especially where there is domestic travel and trade. International travel and trade will grow much slower in 2021, but much stronger in 2022. Our region will grow slower because of our dependence on international tourism. On the other hand, Tinian will develop to a greater extent than other Mariana Islands in the next 24 months, due to planned military expenditures for security purposes in the region.”
John M. Borlas
Then (1984): President, IT&E Overseas Inc.
Now: President, MITECO, which does business as Papa John’s, Submarina California Subs, Marble Slab Creamery and Papa’s.
Significant accomplishments: Helped make it possible for Guam residents to affordably talk to people around the world; a leader in Guam’s fastest changing industry. Supports numerous community organizations.
Philip J. Flores
Then (1985): President and chairman, BankPacific, Marianas Finance Corp., Pacific Basin Investment Corp., Casa de Flores Inc., Guam Dry Cleaners, Fabriclean CNMI Inc., Our Lady of Peace Memorial Gardens Inc., Our Lady of Peace Memorial Plan Inc., Financial Properties Investment Corp., VP and VC Guahan of Waste Control Inc.
Now: President and chairman, BancPacific Financial Holding Co., BankPacific, Marianas Finance Corp., Pacific Basin Investment Corp., Casa de Flores Inc., Guam Dry Cleaners Inc., Our Lady of Peace Memorial Gardens Inc., Our Lady of Peace Memorial Plan Inc., Guahan Waste Control Inc. and Oka Pacific, Inc., and managing director Guahan Waste Recycling, LLC.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “I take great pleasure in being an entrepreneur. Throughout my career I’ve taken over, started, bought, sold and closed businesses in finance, insurance, real estate, memorial businesses, industrial laundry, recycling and solid waste handling industries. I’m especially proud that we have many people in our companies who have been with us for 10, 20 and even 30 years or more. Without a great team one cannot win championships. You ask what about recently — that would be that during the pandemic when employees could not come to work or we reduced hours, we continued to pay everyone for a full work schedule.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “One of my mantras for these times is liquidity, liquidity, liquidity and compassion. Another is about vision — close your eyes and open them 10 years from now, what do you see and how do we get there? And be thankful because things could be worse.”
Doris Flores Brooks
Then (1986): SVP and CFO, Bank of Guam.
In December 2019, Brooks was appointed to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “What I am most proud of was my formation and establishment of the Office of Public Accountability. With the hard work, professionalism and dedication of my staff, the Government of Guam finally receive an unmodified “clean” audit opinion on its financial statements for fiscal 2007. As a result of the efforts of the government of Guam’s professionals, our government continues to receive “clean” audit opinions annually.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “2020 and maybe beyond is an era of tragic economic impact. In Guam, COVID-19 has illustrated the stark contrast between our island’s two major economic industries: federal-military expenditures and tourism. GovGuam survived the pandemic because of more than one billion dollars the federal government allotted to Guam. While many small businesses received significant help from the CARES Act, many other businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry have shuttered permanently.
“Unlike the priavate sector, federal and GovGuam employees continued to receive their full salaries even with reduced work hours. Private sector employees have had reduced working hours or even been furloughed. Local Legislation to provide assistance to those in the private sector recently passed and finally recognizes how fragile the tourism industry is.
“Our government may see more difficult times in 2021 because the second federal stimulus package did not include aid to state and local governments.
“The revitalization of tourism is essential to Guam’s economic future. The approval now of two COVID-19 vaccines bodes well for Guam, our nation and the world. The U.S. economy is poised to recover in 2021. But it will not be until the latter part of 2021 that we can even begin to see some revival of our island’s tourism industry. Guam, our country and the world had a turbulent year. May 2021 be the start of a more resilient and sustainable year.”
Mark V. Pangilinan
Then (1987) and now: President, MVP Enterprises Inc.
Significant accomplishments: Established Mark’s Motor Co., Ace Hardware, Mark’s Sporting Goods, Daewoo Motor Co., Ben Franklin Department Store, Mark’s Department Store, and Guam’s first amusement park. Served as chairman of the University of Guam’s Board of Regents, Guam Power Authority, and the Guam Chamber of Commerce. A leader and spokesman of the Filipino Community of Guam, honored by Pope Paul IV for his service to the Catholic Church, and with an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Guam.
Has mentored the younger generation of the family and seen the group maximize its real estate assets.
Allen A. Pickens
Then (1988): Managing partner Pickens, Borja and Filush PC
Significant and recent accomplishments: “Are my children leading wholesome lives, contributing to the communities they have chosen? Have I treated my fellow man, including employees, customers and competitors fairly and in accordance with ethical standards that I espoused? Did I meet expectations for truth, honesty, morality and belief? Being a person of faith, I know that there is only one ultimate judge of such things; however, I am proud of my efforts.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “Economic recovery will trail vaccines distribution by several months. Unfortunately, many small and medium sized businesses have already failed, and their replacement will take several years. As usual, politics will interfere rather than facilitate economic recovery. The pandemic has moved social issues well ahead of economic issues. In summary, our free enterprise system has taken a significant hit. It will take very strong leadership to turn the situation around. I do not see such leadership on the horizon.”
Roy Sullivan (Deceased)
Oct. 31, 1933 – May 3, 2001
Then (1989): EVP J&G Co.
Significant accomplishments: Assisted the late Kenneth T. Jones Jr. in his concepts of the development of Jones & Guerrero.
Kurt S. Moylan
Then (1990): President, Moylan’s Insurance Underwriters Inc.
Now: President and chairman of the board, Moylan’s Insurance Underwriters Inc.
Significant accomplishments: Founded insurance agency, domestic life and health company, and casualty company. Appointed by President Richard Nixon as secretary of Guam, 1969, and elected first lieutenant governor of Guam from 1971 through 1975. Elected as senator to 8th and 16th Guam legislatures. One of four original incorporators of the Republic Party of Guam in 1967.
Akira “Mike” Baba (Deceased)
Jan. 11, 1930 – Dec. 28, 2013
Then (1991): President, Baba Corp.
Significant accomplishments: Founded Nippon Rent-a-Car, ABY Leasing Inc., Micronesian Hospitality Inc., and purchased Atlantis V Submarine, which became Atlantis Guam Inc. Other businesses include Nanyo Realty, Advance Management Services, Aqua World Inc., and Pacific Fast Food Associates, which does business as Burger King.
Paul M. Calvo
Then (1992): President and chairman, Calvo Enterprises Inc.
Now: Chairman emeritus, Calvo Enterprises Inc. and PMC Investments Inc.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “Serving the people of Guam as governor is one of my most humbling achievements. The restructuring and stabilization of Calvo Enterprises upon retirement from public office has to have been one of my most challenging accomplishments. But more recently, I’m most proud of the smooth and successful transition of operational decision-making to my kids and grandkids.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “Prior to the COVID pandemic, Guam’s economy was in a high growth mode — tourism was booming and military construction was accelerating. Though it may take some time for full recovery, I do believe that the tourism industry is poised for a comeback. Military construction will be robust for at least the next half decade. With a hoped for easing of restrictions on H-2B workers on the civilian side, I also foresee increased private sector construction activity. All in all, I’m very optimistic for Guam’s economic future.”
Antoinette D. Sanford
Then (1993) and now: President, A-D Sanford & Co., now the Sanford Technology Group
Significant and recent accomplishments: “I am most proud of having sustained our business continuity and growth over the last 34 years, as a small, woman-owned business entrepreneur, building a business team driven by empowerment, trust and respect.
“Our professional team has grown from four to over 20 and our customer base has grown from 10 to almost 400, expanding our business reach to include our neighboring islands of the Northern Mariana Islands and Micronesia.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “We are faced with an unprecedented economic nightmare, evidenced by the highest unemployment Guam has ever experienced, as businesses close due to the Covid-19 pandemic quarantine.
“Economic stimulus checks, local funds and other federal assistance have been a blessing for the furloughed and unemployed and have provided financial relief for some businesses, though when this funding ends, so will the relief.
“Economic recovery will come sooner with our community and government leaders working together, to open schools and enable private industry to resume operations. Parents with school-aged children are challenged with returning to work as long as schools remain closed, and unemployment checks are a disincentive to return to work, for those that have lost their motivation.
“Our government leaders must focus on resuscitating our business community, to breathe economic life back into the hearts and minds of the thousands of furloughed employees now suffering the looming reality of lingering economic ruin. We must act deliberately in ending our pandemic-induced economic isolation, by rationally evaluating the efficacy of quarantine policies, and targeting assistance towards stimulating economic activities that will best revitalize local businesses, reduce unemployment and ultimately regenerate the tax revenues necessary to support government services after the COVID-19 funding terminates.”
Sandford was also presented with the Guam Business Magazine Businesswoman of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kenneth T. Jones (Deceased)
Nov. 22, 1917 – Oct. 30, 2008
Then (1994): President, Jones & Guerrero Co.
Significant accomplishments: Founded Jones & Guerrero Co. in 1946 and became Ford Motor Co. dealer in 1947. Founder of the Guam Hilton and Town House Department Store and more, as well as generously supporting the communities in which J&G does business.
Edward M. Calvo (Deceased)
March 8, 1936 – Sept. 14, 2004
Then (1995): First VP, Calvo Enterprises Inc.
Significant accomplishments: Establishment of Calvo Enterprises Inc. and involvement with a number of community organizations.
Then (1996) and now: Owner and president, Money Resources Inc.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “My greatest civic leadership experience: Becoming World President of Jaycees International, visiting more than 100 countries making speeches on self-development and wealth creation as well as being chairman of the Chamber (twice.)
“Greatest professional satisfaction: Helping many clients create a lifetime of tax-free income and dramatically lowering their taxes.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “By any measure, capitalism and the free market is the greatest generator for increasing our living standard and comforts of life. Unfortunately, we currently have the tyranny of hygiene socialism. And like other tyrannies, the victims often think it is for the greater good. Denying people their economic activity and their own sustenance compromises the rule of law, because economic freedom is the backdrop against which all other freedoms emanate. Those who presume you can have progress by denying the most productive, are on a fool’s errand. Leaders must take their foot off the brake and let the entrepreneurs decide. Entrepreneurs, not government, will create a better world with less confrontations. There is risk in everything — you cannot get to second base without leaving first base. But collaboration of free individuals is the best way to resolve our issues after reducing punitive tax rates and reducing the size of government. Don’t invite the non-essentials back to work, we can work smarter without so much overhead. That is what a business would do. Without a doubt, the world’s biggest problems are also the world’s biggest business opportunities. Turn the entrepreneurs loose.”
William R. Thompson
Then (1997): President, Atkins Kroll Inc.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “I am very proud and humbled to have had the privilege of looking after Guam’s oldest recorded company for many years — Atkins Kroll. As a team we were successful in many different business activities to include automotive, insurance, shipping agency, a hotel and restaurant supplier, wines and spirits and more during my tenure as AK president,” and, “Later our governor asked me to serve as the Guam International Airport Authority’s chairman of the board during the airports major expansion project in the mid 1990’s. Years later, I was fortunate to serve as their chief executive. Again, working with a brilliant team of highly motivated individuals.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “I believe that once this pandemic is resolved we will get back to some sense of normalcy, and tourism will boom again, with visitors eager to experience Guam’s warm hospitality after being cooped up for so long. Further, Guam has always hosted our military and their bases, which will continue to boost our economy as well. In closing, I miss the ‘Hafa Adai’ spirit unique to the island and my friends and former colleagues.”
John K. Lee (Deceased)
Nov. 8, 1938 – Oct. 5, 2011
Then (1998): Senior VP, First Hawaiian Bank
Significant accomplishments: Rose from mailroom attendant at First Hawaiian Bank in Honolulu to senior vice president, chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, American Red Cross, Guam Power Authority, Salvation Army Advisory Board, Guam Community College Foundation, Guam Visitors Bureau and Boy Scouts of America. Former president of the Guam Bankers Association and the Guam Employers Council, and vice president of the U.S. Navy League’s Guam Chapter.
Henry L. Schnabel (Deceased)
April 18, 1924 – April 29, 2005
Then (1999): General manager, Calvo’s Insurance Underwriters Inc.
Significant accomplishments: During 50 years at Calvo’s Insurance, he built production from a few $100,000 yearly to $50 million at the time of his retirement.
Then (2000): President, DFS Saipan from which she retired.
Now: Board member, Marianas Visitors Authority and member of board of directors, Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp.
Significant accomplishments: 1995 appointment as president of DFS Saipan, 1999 Saipan Chamber of Commerce Businessperson of the Year, Strategic Economic Development Council chairwoman for Destinations Enhancement, seeing projects, like medians and the pathway extension, become reality.
Aldan-Pierce was also presented with the Guam Business Magazine Businesswoman of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
Manfred H. Pieper
Then (2001): General manager, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
Now: Executive general manager of operations, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
Significant accomplishments: Successfully managed 12 Hilton hotels for more than five years, and numerous new hotel projects in the region. Chairman of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association for a number of years, during which the association grew significantly in members, professionalism and status within the community.
Thomas G. Ahillen
Then (2002): General manager, Matson Navigation Co.
Now: Owner, managing member and co-founder, Asia Pacific Solutions LLC
Significant and recent accomplishments: “Helping and training young employees to develop their talents and skills. This is in managers as well as clerks, mechanics, drivers and others. Recently, in addition to enjoying my children and for sure my grandchildren, being happily retired and spending more time loved ones.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “Economic recovery, regardless of the geographical location in the world, is going to take time, patience and leadership. Each business will need to develop these requirements on their own. We need to work with the government leaders to assure they understand the impact government decisions have on our business. We also need to make sure that as we rebuild our businesses it is sustainable. It is a good time to be retired and able to mentor when asked or needed.”
Juan T. Guerrero
Then (2003): President and general manager, Herman’s Modern Bakery Inc.; president and CEO, Paras Enterprises Saipan Inc.; president, Juan T. Guerrero & Associates Inc.; president, GTS Security Inc.; president, Insurance & Business Management Corp., which does business as Marianas International Travel Agency; president of GTS Enterprises Inc., which does business as GTS Construction & Manpower Services; and president, GT Investment Inc.
Now: President and general manager, Insurance & Business Management Corp.; director, Strategic Gaming Solutions Inc.
Significant accomplishments: Took market share from Guam bakeries that were shipping to Saipan, developed recipes and showed gross income of $58,000 after the first year, tripling sales by the second. Member of the house of representatives from 1984 to 1985; a member of the senate from 1986 to 1990, and president and director of the Democratic Party of the Northern Mariana Islands from 1980 to 1990. Participated and was involved in leadership of many committees in the NMI legislature, the federal and local government, and the community.
Joseph “Jerry” Kramer
Then (2004) and now: CEO, Pacific International Inc.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “I’m most proud of having created our family-owned company, Pacific. International Inc., which is – outside of the U.S. military at Kwajalein and the Marshall Islands’ government, is the largest employer in the Marshall islands. I’m proud of my contribution to the social and economic development of the islands. I’m equally proud that our family company has been able to spread to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, and have been involved in projects in other parts of Micronesia. The most recent emphasis for Pacific International Inc. is the construction of the largest private dock facility in the region and our dedication to the land-based support for the fishing industry.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “I’ve been visiting Guam several times a year since 1961. More than once in the last 60 years, I have seen the economy dip, recover, thrive and suffer decline due to events outside of local control and then not just recover, but excel with tremendous growth. The business community has shown extraordinary resilience to discouraging economic events. When conditions are right for recovery, I expect Guam will rebound and thrive. There are, and will be, opportunities for economic advances to not only recover, but to exceed the pre-pandemic levels. The region, including Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, is weathering well with the economic decline caused by the pandemic. The people of this region have a history of survival and self-sufficiency in times of all sorts of disasters. Their economies will bounce back and continue on their pre pandemic economic growth.”
Then (2004) and now: Owner and president, Cars Plus and Cycles Plus
Significant accomplishments: General manager for Triple J Motors Guam and Keico Motors. Supported the Guam Motorcycle Club, the Guam Football Association, Guam Memorial Hospital and Guam schools, and numerous non-profits.
David M. Sablan
Then (2005): President, Century Insurance, Century Travel and Century Tours; director, Familia Health Professionals; and chairman, Marianas Visitors Authority
Now: Consultant, Tan Holdings
Significant and recent accomplishments: “The diversity of the positions that I held with the corporations I worked for not only allowed me to learn the jobs, but also enabled me to improve my knowledge of various economic endeavors. I worked for the steamship, indent or merchandising, banking; and other businesses related to the above. I also worked for KUAM Radio and Television for nine years as disc jockey and news announcer from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., five days a week for five years. I am forever thankful to my employers for their patience.
As a retiree after decades of employment, I am now observing the present economic movement. The Coronavirus has done severe damages not only to the businesses but also the consumers with all the restrictions being applied. I really feel badly for the local businesses which have drastically reduced their activities due to the virus.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “I sincerely hope that the discovery of the vaccine will enable to some degree return businesses to normalcy.”
Alfred C. Ysrael (Deceased)
April 10, 1930 – March 10, 2017)
Then (2006): Founder, Tanota Partners
Significant accomplishments: Opened Guam’s first civilian bowling alley, opened Diana’s, a family clothing and accessories retail store, which later turned into multiple locations, opened the first 24-hour Fujita Hotel, helped found the Hilton International, now the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, built the SunRoute, Regency and Outrigger Guam Resort, and developed apartment buildings.
Lee P. Webber
Then (2007): President and publisher, Honolulu Advertiser and president of Gannett Pacific Corp.
Now: President and owner, Managed Development Associates and president and owner, Micronesian Divers Association
Significant and recent accomplishments: “Previously, my work as a ‘traditional’ newspaper publisher serving as the watchdog on government and ensuring unbiased news and opinion coverage in our communities. Today, writing a column in the Guam Daily Post and serving as the president of the Vigilance Committee doing work similar to what I did as a publisher.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “Economic recovery from the unnecessary massive business and government closures locally and internationally will be a long time coming back — save in China where the bug was turned loose and the propaganda all began. My concern for the islands is that with their generally less-developed medical care coupled with the higher-than-normal level of diabetes, and other comorbidity issues in the general populations, they will remain closed longer than most places. That reality may, in-turn, lead their political leadership to require visitors to take a yet unproven vaccine in order to enter and slow the economic recovery even further.”
Laura-Lynn V. Dacanay
Then (2008): Senior VP and Guam/NMI region manager, First Hawaiian Bank
Significant and recent accomplishments: “During my career, I had the opportunity to train many individuals who I worked with. Some people don’t like to share their knowledge, but I always stressed that knowledge is power. Sharing it gave them the opportunity to move up and find their replacements among those they shared the knowledge with. Some of these individuals that I trained stayed with the company and moved up the corporate ladder, others moved on to other jobs, but watching them progress in their careers and knowing that whatever knowledge that I was able to share with them helped them along the way makes me proud. I was also the first woman banking center manager and first woman regional manager for First Hawaiian Bank, and the first woman chair for GEDCA. Recently – since I retired almost five years ago to spend time with my mom, I am proud to say that I was able to enjoy the last years of her life in such a way that I have no regrets leaving my career behind.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “These are going to be very challenging times ahead for our island and the region. With our economy reliant on tourism and the several restrictions placed on other businesses to either close or operate at reduced capacity, many of these companies will close permanently as they struggle to make ends meet. Diversification into other markets in the financial services and insurance industries could be an option, and create a financial hub similar to Hong Kong, but many frown upon given incentives to attract these types of business.”
Jerry Cho Yee Tan
Thoughts on economic recovery: “There is a lot of uncertainty in 2021. Even with the roll-out of vaccines and eventually when we’re able to build herd immunity, the economy will continue to struggle and will take a long time to recover and bounce back. Not only for Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, but also for other island countries in Micronesia. We will need continuing government support for small businesses to be able to re-open and give jobs back to employees. Slowly we must succeed in establishing effective travel bubbles with key markets to restart the bigger economy. Throughout these, we must ensure that our people remain protected and healthy. I encourage all to remain strong, keep doing our work well, serve the community, and be a part of the solution. I remain hopeful that we will continue to overcome and will come out of this pandemic a much stronger people.”
Lourdes “Lou” A. Leon Guerrero
Then (2010): President, CEO and chairman of the board, Bank of Guam
Now: Governor of Guam
Significant and recent accomplishments: “When the people of Guam casted their sacred trust and voted me as the first female Governor of Guam, I was very humbled, honored and proud to serve my island and my people.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “We continue to help stand up our economy with federal assistance and both military and civilian construction. Tourism, of course, has suffered here and worldwide. With the constraint of the virus for the second time and the administering of the vaccine, I am confident we will see our tourism economy on its way to recovery. I expect this to start to happen at the end of the first quarter of 2021.
“We must now focus on economic diversity. I have established an Economic Diversification Working Group initiated by the Guam Economic Development Authority, in partnership with local businesses to include various associations like the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, and the Guam Visitors Bureau, to name a few.
“I see more focus now towards diversity to sustain our recovery, including agriculture and the establishment of our Central Farmer’s Market. Ideas for production manufactory, data centers and warehousing, increase in ship repair, and more ideas to use the port for increased commerce. We also cannot forget our apprenticeship programs, university internship programs, and accelerated professional training programs. These will diversify and stimulate our economy.”
Jay R. Shedd
Then (2011): President and CEO, Docomo Pacific Inc.
Now: Senior director of sales, marketing and customer service, IT&E
Significant and recent accomplishments: “First and foremost, I get a sense of pride knowing that I made a positive difference in people’s lives. Throughout my career in business, I have had people work for me who have went far in their careers. I’ve been able to make a lasting impact on them through mentorship and by teaching them lasting lessons in business and professionalism.
“Even people that I’ve done business with in the past tell me how I’ve made an impact in their lives. It is most gratifying to hear this feedback. It’s such a privilege to hear from former employees and others that these lessons have been influential in how they manage their business. It tells me that I’ve done something right and good.
“Secondly, having had a hand in the growth of the telecommunications industry in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. I have been involved with this industry since 1983. Then, I moved to Guam in 1994. During that time, we have seen great progress in the industry and I’m quite proud that the telecom services provided in our islands is as good or better than it is in many bigger, more populated cities in the U.S.
“Recently, coming back to telecom after a brief time in the media industry, I have realized that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you try to make it better all the time. Businesses and people change over the years and working to make things better is my joy. If I can honestly say that I’ve contributed to making improvements in business and in lives, I am happy.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “In general, I think that the world economy is going to take a while to recover. COVID-19 has showed us that things have to change and ‘business as usual’ is not coming back for a long time, if ever. Even if you don’t believe in the significance of the virus, I think you can believe that anything can happen, good and bad. Fear for personal safety will not automatically go away with the vaccinations. We have seen all countries in the world struggle with addressing this pandemic and its affects to the economy and society. And I don’t think anyone will forget about it for a long time. The new normal is not yet set in stone because things keep changing.
“Travel will be different for a while and I’m afraid that will make an impact on our economic recovery, as tourism and hospitality is a major industry. Hospitality is bullish, but I’m not as certain. I do think that now is the time to work on our island and its services and offerings to prepare for a new economy.
“Digital services will continue to grow. Consumers are constantly seeking convenience and are becoming accustomed to the ease of using their personal devices to shop, pay for bills and complete everyday tasks. On the same note, delivery services should continue to do well. Brick-and-mortar businesses will have to expand their digital services and other offerings to adapt to customers’ changing expectations.
“That being said, our economy should be better off than others as we take advantage of opportunities in other sectors. I believe we should be grateful for the fact that the US Military is here and creating opportunities in construction, real estate, food and beverage and more. Our strategic geographic position provides us with a unique relationship with the military that allows us to keep the door open to these opportunities and partnerships.
“Advances in technology, like telecommunications, will help us stay competitive even though we are small, remote islands.
“Our university is a major asset for keeping our children educated and abreast of the latest trends and insights. The University provides the resources to work with others to provide cutting-edge technologies and new services to Guam and the NMI.
“I’m a big believer in continuous change and improvements so I think that people with vision and who aren’t afraid to try, will be able to take advantage of new opportunities. This is a time for people to embrace change and make the most of new chances to make a difference.”
Jerrold C. “Jere” Johnson
Then (2012) and now: President, Hawaiian Rock Products
Significant accomplishments: Named one of the Pacific Jaycee’s three Outstanding Young People of Guam in 1988, contributes to and supports various community, youth, non-profit organizations, cultural/fine arts organizations including, but not limited to, The Sugar Plum Tree Inc., the Boy Scouts of America and the Guam Girl Scouts, American Red Cross, the Guam Museum Foundation Inc., the Guam USO and the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay.
Then (2013): EVP, Tan Holdings; chairman, Take Care Health Systems LLP; president, treasurer and director, D&Q Saipan Co. Ltd. and D&Q Guam Co. Ltd.; president, Saipan Air; secretary, treasurer and director, Tango Inc. Guam; president, treasurer and director, BlueBay Petroleum; director, Mariana Express Lines; director, Bank of Saipan
Now: EVP, Tan Holdings covering oversight of multiple business units
Significant and recent accomplishments: “What I’m most proud of in my career is that I was able to not only advance myself, but to see the development of the careers of the people who helped me advance. No one can do it all alone and without the support of the team surrounding me, I would not be where I’m at today.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “I don’t think anyone thought that the pandemic would have lasted as long as it has. There’s no way to accurately measure the devastation that the pandemic has caused to our economy and the surrounding islands. The recovery will be a long and painful process but having lived practically my entire life in the islands, I know we will persevere. We are resilient and we will battle back. It will take time, but I have seen us battle back from natural disasters and this pandemic is no different. Together we will make it back to not only where we were but far exceed it.”
Norman T. Tenorio
Then (2014) and now: Managing director, Joeten Enterprises Inc., which incorporates Joeten Motor Co., J.C. Tenorio Enterprises, Joeten Ace Hardware, Joeten Development Inc., which does business as Joeten Superstore, Marianas Management Corp., Construction Material & Supply Inc., Joeten Wholesale; president and CEO, Pacifica Insurance Underwriters Inc.
Significant accomplishments: Member of various insurance boards, trustee of the Joeten DaiDai Foundation. Supports the Marianas Islands Nature Alliance, the American Red Cross, the Saipan Fishing Association, the Commonwealth Cancer Association, the Next Top Chef,, the Tournament of Champions, the Northern Marianas Volleyball Association, and many more. Held a number of community titles, including senator in the NMI Legislature, member of the Governor’s Economic Development Task Force, member of the Northern Marianas Insurance Association, founding member and chairman of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Commission, and many more.
Jeffrey B. Jones
Then (2015) and now: President and COO, Triple J group of companies in Guam, Saipan and Micronesia including Triple J Auto Group, Triple J Food Group, Triple J Restaurant Group and Triple J Real Estate & Development Group
Significant and recent accomplishments: “I am most proud of the team that I have been a part of developing and serving with. They are top-notch and a pleasure to work with. Recently I am even more proud of our team and how they have adapted and performed during the pandemic. They have shown to be resilient and resourceful during this very uncertain and volatile business environment.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “I am optimistic that our tourism industry will fully recover, but I believe it will take three to five years to return to our previous levels. This pandemic has reminded us of the vulnerability of our economy. We are fortunate that we had the military and construction industry to bolster us during this time but we need further diversification for the future.”
Joe C. Ayuyu
Then (2016) and now: President and owner, JCA Guam LLC, which does business as McDonald’s of Guam; president, JCA Inc., which does business as McDonald’s of Saipan
Significant accomplishments: Built McDonald’s and real estate holdings in Guam and Saipan; sat on a number of positions and boards, including chairman of the Bank of Saipan, president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, co-founder and first president of the Majuro Chamber of Commerce, treasurer and board director of the Chuuk Chamber of Commerce, and chair of the NMI Tax Force, the NMI Foreign Investment board, to name a few.
Leonard K. Kaae, Sr.
Then (2017) and now: Senior VP and general manager, Black Construction, Black Micro Corp. E.E. Black Ltd.
Significant and recent accomplishments: “This is difficult to answer, given that in the next eight months, I’ll celebrate 50years of hard work and dedication to my career in the construction industry. 37 of those years have been with the Black Group. Over the past 49 years I’ve had many proud moments and accomplishments that resonate in my memory. Beginning in August of 1971, with a borrowed hard hat and my grandfather’s hammer, I was able achieve the highest position at Black with the help of many great mentors and good friends, the dedication of many hard-working people who I’ve been honored and privileged to work beside but most important the unwavering love and support of my wife and four children.
“I believe the most recent event that speaks volumes of pride is Black’s recovery from a major COVID-19 viral outbreak at both of our workforce camps. The company was totally shut down from all construction activities for a period of 14days. Black’s innovative planning and open communications with The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services and our medical provider American Medical Center allowed Black to return to work on the 15th day after the initial shut down. Although challenging, our staff who is dedicated to managing our Covid cases did an outstanding job of maintaining a 24/7 open line of communications with DPHSS to ensure Black maintained complete compliance with their requirements and the task at hand.”
Thoughts on economic recovery: “The construction industry has been fortunate to be classified as essential which has allowed the industry to continue work since March of 2020 the start of the Pandemic. I firmly believe that construction industry will continue to supplement the economy of the island and region until tourism returns to a level of normalcy. Not sure when that normalcy will occur however until then construction will have to carry the ball. Unfortunately, I’m unable to comment on what is being planned by the tourism industry for that restart.”
Bernadette V. Valencia
Then (2018) and now: VP and general manager, Matson Navigation Co. for Micronesia and Okinawa
Significant accomplishments: Served as board member for the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Guam Employers Council, Guam Business Partners in Recycling Inc. (iRecycle), and the Guam Contractor’s Association Trades Academy. Served as council member on the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration and United Service Organizations Guam.
Annmarie T. Muna
Then (2019) and now: President, AM Insurance Inc.
Significant accomplishments: Worked up from insurance clerk to underwriter and formed AM Insurance after nearly two-decades of experience. Qualified to access Excess and Surplus Lines insurance markets in Europe and America. One of the most experienced brokers in the servicing of government accounts in Guam. University of Guam commencement speaker for 2019 among a number of community service endeavors.
The Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year program is comprised not only of a feature in Guam Business, but a gala — which celebrates one awardee and several nominees and is also a fundraiser.
This year, Guam Business Magazine asked the Executives of the Year and companies which support the annual program to dig deep and assist in being part of the “Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year New Year, New Hope Initiative.”
Rather than voting for who would be the 2020 Executive of the Year, we asked for votes on which non-profits would receive funding from the Initiative.
The supporters of the Initiative and the recipients of their heart-warming generosity will be announced in January.
In the meantime, we share these messages from some of the supporters (below).
Special thanks also to longtime partners and supporters of the Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year: Sorensen Media Group, Philippine Airlines, Titan Imports, Hyatt Regency Guam, 76 and Circle K, Island Girl Coffee ‘n Quenchers, the Andrea R. Ilao Foundation, Shooting Star Productions, Coca-Cola and the Guam Daily Post.
“Wishing all a Happy New Year 2021 … filled with new hope, new aspirations, and new happiness! As we close out 2020, all are wanting to dismiss this chapter in our book of life – the feelings of loss, trauma, despair, fear, loneliness … which will forever be carved in our memories, never to be forgotten – yet we remain prayerful and hopeful. Many who witnessed the new shining Star of Bethlehem, recently, a sight unseen for over 800 years, experienced an awesomeness of wonder, blessing and hope.
“With this New Year 2021, a New sense of Hope rises on the horizon, ushering in a new dawn to help neutralize our darkest days of recent times… foretelling a better future. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is that thing with feathers… that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” We must harness this new sense of hope … nurture it … and share it. Kudos to Guam Business for creating this New Year, New Hope Initiative to donate some of the proceeds of the Executive of the Year 2020 fundraiser to non-profit organizations, selected by the past Executives of the Year. We are blessed with many non-profit organizations who serve our most vulnerable by transforming hopes into realities.
“As Samuel Smiles notes, “Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success, for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.” If you have a big heart, whether your pocket is big or small, come join this effort and help make miracles happen!”
— Antoinette D. “Toni” Sanford
President, Sanford Technology Group
1993 Executive of the Year
“At APL, we pride ourselves on being associated with the best in class and our support for the Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year program is an example of that.
“This year has tested the island’s resilience. We’ve shown historic strength by banding together through anything nature has brought our way. The pandemic that has plagued us this year has been like no other. It’s these times where strong leadership and helpful organization is required. Not just at the government levels, but literally across industry segments and civic organizations.
“The importance of the non-profit entities that this cause – the Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year New Year, New Hope Initiative will aid is precisely why we at APL are supporting this Initiative and will continue to contribute support to the islands in any way possible. Let’s all put this bizarre and trying year behind us and march forward with all the optimism we as an island are capable of. The tireless work these groups put forth is unsurpassed and priceless.
“From our small local family at APL, we give a united standing ovation to all these groups and causes. They are truly deserved of all our support and we are beyond grateful for their efforts.”
— Charlie Hermosa
“Foremost Foods Inc. is pleased to be a part of the Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year New Year, New Hope Initiative.
“Over the 70 years we have been serving Guam, we have been through the highs and lows that faced our island. Throughout those times, the thing that has remained constant is our support for the community and the organizations that help those in need.
“As we come out of one of the most challenging times in recent history, it is our duty and responsibility to lift our community up by giving back through the important work of these NGOs.”
— Marcos Fong
Foremost Foods Inc.