The Indich Collection, a rug retailer and wholesaler, is 30 years old, and founder Bill Indich has become almost as much a sociologist and demographer as he is a businessman.
He started the business as a sole proprietor "out of a closet in my rental home in Kailua," he said. He now employs 25 people in five locations — three on Oahu, one on Maui and one in Kona. His rugs are also sold at the home furnishings store at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.
He has survived economic cycles and an embargo on the import of Persian rugs by adapting, becoming a source for interior designers and large business customers, and by creating a product Hawaii residents now take for granted: the Hawaiian rug.
Indich’s light-bulb moment came when he thought of custom-ordering rugs with a tropical design.
That came just in time for the Japanese investment boom. "A Japanese national would come here, buy a house in Portlock or Kahala … and want something tropical," or their interior designer would choose furnishings and floor coverings to reflect a Hawaiian sense of place.
Hawaii hotels are all about Hawaiian sense of place, and one of them ordered 250 custom rugs, for instance. Indich can fill most orders within four months, he said.
His efforts to stay connected with interior design professionals continues to pay off, as "the only people who have money when times are hard are the rich people," he said. Sales of large rugs are strong industrywide, he said. "We’re very grateful for our interior design customers."
Indich has seen imitators come and go. The "copycats" include former employees who set out on their own. "It looks easy but it’s not so easy."
His rug business used to be about people making investments in quality, antique Persian rugs, but times have changed. "People used to buy a rug and keep it 50 years," but now people are flipping houses and don’t stay married that long. It is now "a fashion business" in which most of his retail customers are women, without whom "we would have no rug business," he said.
Indich has no expansion plans "in this economy," but he does have fatherly, business-type advice for "young people coming up."
"I know the times are tough, (but) I encourage people to look around the world … see what’s being done elsewhere, and you’ll see there’s a niche in Hawaii for you. … There’s always room in Hawaii for another clever idea."
Owners of Imperial Chinese Restaurant in Aiea, where the phone number connects to "a vacant number series," have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.
The bankruptcy was filed Monday, four years and a day after parent company AWKCC LLC was registered with the state by Tina Au, Ruby Watkins, Jessica Chau and Yin Fung Chun, each a 25 percent owner, according to court filings.
The company lists assets of $32,767 and liabilities of $128,175, including more than $69,000 owed in lease rent, and estimates that no funds will be available for unsecured creditors, according to its bankruptcy filing.
It received a positive review in sister publication MidWeek not long after it opened on the ground floor of Westridge Center as a buffet restaurant. Of 13 customer-posted reviews found at three restaurant review websites, four were positive, two were lukewarm and seven were strongly negative.