Hawaii construction industry excels amid coronavirus pandemic


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii construction industry is booming while unemployment numbers remain high and many businesses struggle to keep their doors open. Contractors and many others in the industry are finding it hard to keep up with demand.

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Landon Nakata of Turn 2 Construction needs more hours in the day. By day he remodels homes and at night he works at Pearlridge Shopping Center — building out the newest “Hotdog on a Stick” location.

“We got to keep up with customer demand, so whatever it takes. Since the pandemic, we’ve been busy — whether it’s been home remodels or commercial tenant improvements.”

Nakata — a former project manager with a large construction company — started his own company at the beginning of 2020. He did not know that it would serve as a springboard for his business.

“That was a good idea with taking down that wall, creating space,” Nakata said. “Seems to be a lot of interest in new work or renovating. Probably with all those trips canceled, nowhere to go, Vegas shut down, and of course, low-interest rates.”

Nakata is not alone. Randall Omoto from the Homeowners Design Center said, more and more customers are looking for help with drawing up plans and improving spaces.

“Everybody is spending more time at home so now their deal is ‘why not make it comfortable.’ I think people are not spending the money the way that they used to on movies dining out and vacations.” Omoto said. “And so now I think those things that they were postponing they’re now have time to actually do and have the money to actually do it.”

The president of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIA) says the industry is helping to carry the economy during a critical time.

“Yea, the construction industry is strong and I think it’s getting a lot of attention because the tourism industry is so bad and stifled right now,” said BIA President Beau Normann,

“There’s still a lot of shovel-ready projects going from the state and county,” Normann said. “There’s some high-rise work still going on in town which carries a lot through all of our bigger developments; Koa Ridge, Hoopili. All of those big developers are going, so just keeping a lot of that happening.”

On the downside, anybody looking to remodel their kitchen or do a smaller-scale project around the house will likely be waiting for a while to get a skilled work crew on site.

“Depends who’s calling,” Nakata said. “We can make it happen with at least a few months of lead time right now”.

The BIA canceled its big January show but the organization is looking to put on a hybrid show — including physical walk-through spaces and virtual exhibits in March, 2021.

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