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    Volkswagen of America ran this ad during Super Bowl XLV featuring a child actor portraying Darth Vader, who uses the Force on a 2012 Volkswagen Passat.

Maui resort finishes $15M upgrade

Fourth-quarter net

$1.09 million

Year-earlier net

$1.95 million

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, which opened in 1980, has completed an extensive $15 million renovation.

The project, which finished in December, includes upgraded guestrooms and the opening of a new restaurant. About $10 million went into the room upgrades and $5 million transformed the former Cascades restaurant into Japengo, a Pacific Rim restaurant and sushi lounge. 

Local execs critique Super Bowl ads

Local advertising and marketing executives gathered for a panel discussion of the best and worst commercials from Super Bowl XLV yesterday and the most memorable, winning nods as among both the best and the worst was the Doritos "The Best Part" spot. In it, a Doritos fanatic licks cheesy residue from the fingers of a male co-worker and rips crumb-covered slacks off another male co-worker to sniff it.

The panel at the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter gathering included Ruben Carrillo, principal of Liquid Planet Studios; Dennis Christianson, president and chief executive officer of Anthology Marketing Group Inc.; Jay Evans, president of Montaj 9 Ltd.; Jason Suapaia, president of integrated branding and production company 1013; and John Veneri, marketing director of KHON-TV.

Of the local commercials that aired, a Farmers Insurance commercial was praised for its production value and being well thought out.

Local advertisers planning to run a commercial in the Super Bowl "need to step up," Carrillo said, with Christianson adding that others, which fared poorly, were "thrown into a criticism-rich environment." 

Civil union economic effect ‘minimal’

Enactment of a law extending marriage rights to same-sex couples would have "a very minimal impact" on Hawaii’s economy, according to a report by University of Hawaii researchers that looked at things like visitor arrivals and the cost to employers of providing benefits to civil union partners.

The report by economists Sumner La Croix and Kimberly Burnett is an update to one they produced last May that reached a similar conclusion.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a civil unions bill and sent it to the full House for a vote.

As part of their research, La Croix and Burnett studied five states that allow same sex couples to marry and six that allow same-sex couples to enter into a domestic partnership.

"We conclude that the legalization of civil unions in Hawaii will have only a very minimal impact on any aspect of Hawaii’s economy and state government operations," they wrote in the report.

AUW to offer ‘sweet mahalos’

The entire staff of Aloha United Way will spend Monday, Valentine’s Day, on the phone thanking the agency’s $250-plus donors — which means they will make about 4,000 calls.

The AUW staff will not be asking for additional contributions Monday. The organization’s intention "is to do this annually on Valentine’s Day as a ‘sweet mahalo,’" to the "generous individuals who donate to Aloha United Way," said Jody Shiroma Perreira, vice president of marketing and communications.

SBA Hawaii gets $325,000 grant

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Hawaii Small Business Development Center has received a $325,000 grant under a key provision of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 signed by President Barack Obama last September.

The provision provides $50 million in grants to SBA’s Small Business Development Centers across the country to support job creation and retention within the small-business community.

Bill to ban loud car stereos shelved

A bill to ban loud aftermarket speakers and subwoofers in cars was deferred in the House Transportation Committee yesterday after more than 200 opponents, particularly small audio business owners, submitted testimony against the bill, citing its detriment to the industry.

Only a handful of supporters submitted testimony in support of the legislation.

The bill would have banned the installation, ownership or use of any car with aftermarket speakers over 6.5 inches in height or depth, any five-speaker after market system or any aftermarket speaker of more than 100 watts.

The bill will be dead for this legislative session if it doesn’t move out of the Transportation Committee before Feb. 18. The committee does not anticipate further action on the matter. 


Plummet 44.4%

Honolulu-based Barnwell Industries Inc. said yesterday that several factors reduced its earnings 44.4 percent in the final quarter of 2010, including lower natural gas prices from its drilling operations in Canada.

Barnwell’s net income fell to $1.09 million, or 13 cents a share, for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, down from $1.95 million, or 24 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue fell 14 percent to $11.32 million from $13.17 million.

Besides a 17 percent decline in natural gas prices, Barnwell’s earnings suffered in the recent quarter from the absence of a one-time $1.25 million tax benefit that was recorded in the year-earlier period, said Morton Kinzler, Barnwell chairman and chief executive officer.

Additionally, Barnwell reported higher operating costs due to repairs and maintenance at its main drilling site in Alberta, Canada.

The company said a development partnership, in which it owns a 77.6 percent stake, received $2.66 million in the recent quarter for the last of 10 scheduled option payments relating to the development rights within the Hualalai Resort at Kaupulehu in North Kona. Barnwell also received $600,000 from sales payments.

Barnwell’s shares closed down 27 cents, or 3.6 percent, at $7.19 yesterday on the American Stock Exchange.

HECO agrees to buy solar power

Hawaiian Electric Co. has signed an agreement to buy electricity produced by a 5-megawatt solar farm planned for Campbell Industrial Park.

The power purchase agreement between IC Sunshine LLC and HECO, subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission, is the first for a utility-scale solar project on Oahu, the companies said yesterday in a news release.

The price for the electricity, which HECO said is competitive with other renewable resources being negotiated by the utility, is fixed for 20 years and adjusted annually for inflation. The exact price per kilowatt-hour was not disclosed because HECO is conducting similar negotiations with other renewable energy providers.

IC Sunshine, a wholly owned subsidiary of California-based Axio Power Holdings, said it expects to begin producing power by 2012. The solar farm is the first of several renewable energy projects planned for West Oahu. Hoku Solar Inc. is moving ahead with a 1.4-megawatt photovoltaic project in Campbell Industrial Park, while Sopogy is pursuing a 4-megawatt concentrated solar project.


Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties has announced new members to the firm:

» James O’Neill as Realtor associate for its Windward office. He was previously a Realtor associate at Thys Seymore Properties in South Africa.

» Qwilan Tuia as branch operations administrator at its King Street office. She was previously an assistant manager for field operations in the U.S. Census Bureau in Honolulu.

Bank of Hawaii Foundation has awarded a $2,500 grant to Maui Farm Inc. The award will offer support for the Family Strengthening Program, which provides short-term housing and life skills training for families who are at risk of being homeless or are already homeless due to economic or domestic violence issues.

Kahala Associates has announced the appointment of Ulf Schaefer to the Hong Kong Business Association of Hawaii board of directors. Schaefer has more than 10 years of real-estate experience.

Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert has been awarded recertification in Meritas, which is a global alliance of full-service business law firms. The Honolulu-based law firm was invited to join Meritas in 1990 and required to successfully complete recertification every three years. 


Servco chief says repairs of recalls exceed 60%

Servco Automotive President Rick Ching thanked Hawaii customers for their patience after a federal investigation on Tuesday said it had found no problems with Toyota’s electronic throttle control system.

He said about 56,000 Toyota vehicles statewide were recalled last year for the sticking gas pedal, floor mat entrapment, and brake feel issues.

"To date, the Toyota dealers of Hawaii have repaired more than 60 percent of these recalled vehicles," Ching said.


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