Candace Fukuda Hanle
Class of 1982
By Gloria Kobayashi
An entrepreneur is defined as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business.” Candace Fukuda Hanle returned to Hilo five years ago to become an entrepreneur. She is now the owner of four very different businesses: Kandi’s Drive-in, Fukuda Washerette, Makena’s Chevron Service Station and Big Island Packaging.
Because she is the person for whom her father, Eddie Fukuda, named his restaurant, Candace returned home to Hilo to take over his businesses when he decided to retire. Her usual day begins at 1:30 a.m. when she is at the drive-in cooking rice and preparing the basic items that go into a Kandi’s bento. These early morning hours are necessary because Kandi’s opens its doors at 4 a.m. Her favorite meal is breakfast and that is what Kandi’s specializes in. Running a fast food business is complex and hard work. Customers are picky about the taste and presentation of food, but also demand that food be served quickly and that they be treated with courtesy. Employees need to be trained and managed and challenges occur when they can’t get along.
Adjoining the drive-in is the Fukuda Washerette, which Candace admits is the easiest business to operate. It has a minimum of employees and the main task is to keep the washers and dryers in good operation.
Below the drive in on the corner of Kawailani and Kinoole Streets is the Chevron service station, which was also owned by her father. Candace’s husband, Jim Hanle, operates this business, which was renamed Makena’s, after their six-year old daughter. Although most people falsely assume that the service station makes more profit as gasoline prices rise, she says that most service stations are the “middlemen” between the customer and the oil companies. With all of the government taxes added to a gallon of gasoline, it is a wonder that service stations survive.
Candace came to own and operate her fourth business when her cousin, Debbie Miyake, asked her to purchase Big Island Packaging from her before she died in September 2006. Before she moved to Hilo from Seattle five and a half years ago, Candace had an internet business called Ribbons and Wraps.com. She earned a B.S. in both Fashion Merchandising and Interior Design from Oregon State University and worked as a clothing buyer for Eddie Bauer in Seattle for ten years. She is finding that the packaging business allows her to return to a more creative environment.
After beginning her day at 1:30 a.m., she goes home for a nap from 7 to 9 a.m., does paperwork for her businesses, then spends time at the packaging store. Her long day ends between 10 and 11 p.m. Candace manages to wear many hats because she enjoys treating her customers as friends and is willing to make decisions, whether right or wrong. She gives this advice to budding entrepreneurs: “Have drive and dedication to complete whatever you do. Never give up; failure is not an option.”
A member of Waiakea High’s class of 1982 (third graduating class), she was active in student body activities. She remembers helping to decorate several floats in the Kandi’s parking lot for homecoming. She says Mrs. Laura Chock, her fifth grade teacher at Waiakeawaena, was her inspiration, along with Waiakea High teachers Mrs. Helen Kobayashi, Mrs. Jan Jenner and Mr. Walter Tachibana.
Her parents are a godsend in helping to raise her daughter, Makena, who is in the first grade at Waiakeawaena. She also has a ten-year old golden retriever, who she considers her first child.