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Thomas Kaohimaunu: ‘We are truly a family.’

By Hilary Reeves

Thomas stands next to an HFN gas station pump in his Minit Stop uniform.Thomas Kaohimaunu was born on the island of Oahu, moving to Waimea on the island of Hawaii when he was two.

“Growing up in Waimea was challenging, yet rewarding,” he said. “We were a small, close-knit community and family of eight siblings. My mom worked three jobs to support and provide for us in a loving environment. A lot of time was spent with neighborhood children and their families – everyone looked out for each other.”

Kaohimaunu’s mother didn’t drive, so the family walked to church, the grocery store, sporting and social events – even to the Laundromat.

“When we did ride in a car, it was a treat,” he said. “Times have sure changed here in Waimea. There’s now three stoplights, numerous schools, and yes, even a Minitstop.”

Kaohimaunu dreamed of being the Governor of Hawaii, but got his start delivering newspapers at the age of seven. At 10, he was working on several Macadamia but farms, harvesting nuts. At 13, he began working at a grocery store, and at 15 he worked at a flower farm. At 18, he was ready to work in tourism.

“I started at a resort at the age of 18 and worked there for the next 17 years, with a small floral design business on the side,” he said. “I was actually the lead cook at a restaurant before coming to Minit Stop.”

Thomas stands with hands in his pockets outside a Minit Stop.Recently promoted to District Manager West (Island of Hawaii), Kaohimaunu said he most loves the hardworking, dedicated staff at his stores, doing what they do best, day in and day out, the loyal customers who have become a part of their Minit Stop ohana (family), and a his supportive management team.

“My greatest challenge would probably be staffing our stores,” he said. “It’s hard to hire and keep great employees who share our vision and values, not only with our customers, but with each other.”

A typical day for Kaohimaunu begins at 5 a.m. He checks e-mails, sits with his children, and mentally plans his day.

“I’ll do store visits, and usually end my day at my home store in Kohanaiki,” he said. “As my day winds down, I’ll head home around 6 p.m. Then, it’s family time, cooking dinner and spending time with my five children, four dogs, and cat. They are my stress relievers!”

Kaohimaunu hopes people know by now the variety of food prepared in-store daily, and the love with which it’s prepared.

“It’s all about the great values and deals we offer in our stores,” he said, “as well as our top-notch fuel, customer service, and clean, safe environment. We try to embody the truest spirit of aloha and ohana, which sets us apart from the rest.”

If Kaohimaunu could change a single thing about his journey, he said he would have taken more computer classes in high school.

“Thanks to our awesome staff, I am learning,” he laughed. “My plan for the future is to continue to grow and do what I love best – my job! I am so proud of all the staff within our organization from the bottom on up. I started at the bottom, too, and so I know what it takes for them to live the values of Minit Stop day after day through hard work and dedication. We truly are a family.”