Class of 1993
By: Nicole Tabandera
James “Jimmy” Chan is the owner and head potato peeler of the Hawaiian Chip Company in Kalihi. A graduate of the class of 1993, and UH Manoa with a degree in speech communications, he began his company after trying to start a sandwich shop and wanted to serve chips using Okinawan potatoes to go with these sandwiches. He said, “I love cooking so I watch a lot of food network and got inspired to make my own seasonings for the chips like Emeril has his "Essense". His company makes up to 1,500 bags of chips a day during December. “This is isn't a whole lot but in these smaller quantities I can maintain better quality control and produce a better product than the competition,” said Jimmy. Friends and fellow Waiäkea High alumni also contributed to starting his business: Dennis Yoshida, Mat Kaneshiro, Owen Iida, Javier Pommerenk, David Yanazaki, Nathan Gyotoku and Mat Komata.
During high school, Jimmy didn’t always want to own a potato chip company. He said that wanted to be a dentist like Dr. Wally Chong III or a podiatrist like Dr. David Hemmes. He will always remember getting eternally banned from Mrs. Jamie Nekoba's class during recess for changing the homework assignment on the chalkboard from "Read Chapters 1-4 by tomorrow,” to “There will be an exam” as a practical joke.
Jimmy said that Waiäkea’s awesome teachers and coaches really helped him develop (eventually, not instantaneously) as a leader of decent moral character. He learned the importance of carrying himself with dignity while treating those around him the way that he would want to be treated. He learned to listen to suggestions, accurately evaluate them, and then give precise explanations for why he thought an idea was a good or bad one.