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Paul Kosasa '75

Paul Kosasa '75

President and CEO, ABC Stores

What is your favorite memory as a student at 'Iolani?

Many memories…I suppose graduation day – sharing the joy with my classmates and my parents.

Who was your most influential teacher at 'Iolani? Why?

Captain Sleight. AP History. Tough as nails, Funny as hell, and Proud to be teaching us how to think.

Coach Goss. He learned from us as much as we learned from him. Very cool dude.

In what ways has your 'Iolani experience shaped your life after 'Iolani?

Not sure if this is still done, but as students, we were required to stand whenever an adult entered the classroom. Today, it would be considered too draconian. I view it as paying respect and honoring a guest in your house (classroom). “Please” and “Thank yous” are becoming rare too. Like my parents, Iolani has taught me well.

What influences from your 'Iolani experience do you bring to your business?

I believe all schools give their students a sense of pride…being a part of something big, belonging to a group (sort of like patriotism). If leaders of business can instill that same sense of pride to their employees, we would have great businesses.

Just like Iolani.

What were the most significant lessons you learned from your parents?

Never bring shame to your name. You have one reputation. Make it a good one.

How is ABC Stores evolving to meet customer's evolving needs? How do you stay ahead of the trends and what are some examples of new products or services you've introduced recently?

We opened a restaurant recently. We will see if it helps evolve our company. I am not going to answer the rest of the question.

How has ABC Stores thrived in the face of increasing competition where other local businesses have not been able to?

Well…we just have a better business.

You and your family have given back so much to the community. What motivates your philanthropy? Why is it important for you to be so actively involved in bettering this community?

I suspect that there were people behind the scenes that gave generously to help our family succeed. Maybe history would be different if they took a different path. I don’t know for sure. I am grateful.

Pay it back and pay it forward. Making the world a better place little by little is better than doing nothing at all.

Paul Kosasa '75 is the President and CEO of ABC Stores. ABC Stores is a locally-owned business that was founded in 1949 by Sidney and Minnie Kosasa. Paul Kosasa became President and Chief Executive Officer of ABC Stores in 1999. Today ABC Stores has over 75 locations in Hawaii, Las Vegas Nevada, Guam and Saipan, employing over 1, 400 associates. ABC Stores has diversified and expanded its resort retailing success to include Island Gourmet Markets, Island County Markets, Island Deli, Kaiyo Sushi, and Island Gourmet Coffee.

Mr. Kosasa is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Electrical Engineering and also serves as a board member on various local financial, community and business foundations, health care, music and art, and educational organizations. Also, as President of the Kosasa Foundation, he fulfills his family’s philanthropic desire “to create a better community.”