It’s hard to imagine but it’s been one year since we have been in our current location, 74-5599 Luhia Street. Kona Impact has been in business nearly ten years, and this was our second move.
We had no idea when we began 2015 that within a month we would be moving. We also didn’t know that we would have to go through some of the darkest days of being in business until we could turn things around.
In mid-January our poorly-maintained and horribly managed building suffered its third “brown water” leak into our office in two years. This one was horrible, putting us out of business for nearly half a month and destroying thousands of dollars of equipment and materials. We had dealt with the usual problems with office space in Kona: creepy crawly things and even some hairy creepy crawly things, but alas, that was part of renting an old building with an off-island owner and incompetent management.
We were told by several people, including a lawyer friend, that we’d have a good case to sue the building owner and the management company and win, but we decided it would be easier to move on. To this day, I am glad we just terminated our lease—as we had the right to do—and move on.
A few things we learned:
- The manager of your building works for the owner and not the tenants. They are there to protect the owner’s interests. Do not, for an instant, think they will put the tenants’ best interests before the owner’s.
- Your lease will probably release your building owner from any and all responsibilities, no matter how negligent the owner is in maintaining the property. If your building has consistent and serious problems—plumping, security or electrical—get out as soon as possible. Neglect is neglect and it won’t get better.
- Business disruption insurance will have so many loopholes and restrictions that it might not cover very much.
- Always be looking for a better deal. Had we realized that we could find double the space for the same rent, we would have moved much earlier. Sure, there is the fear that you will lose customers if you move, but always look for ways to find a better place.
- Don’t give into fear or bully tactics. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to run a profitable business and to follow the terms of your lease. Your building owner and property owners best interests are making you stay, even it means bending the truth. Ironically, a leasing agent will encourage you to move, as they only get paid when they lease a new location. Everyone has a vested interest! Follow yours!
- Don’t be afraid to move. It took us about four days to prep, paint and move to our new location. Given the huge and proven risk of staying where we were, this was not a hard choice. We’ve now had 365+ days of absolutely no building issues. I haven’t had to contact our property manager even once!
It’s been a year since we have been at our current location. We have seen significant year-on-year growth since we have moved. Our workflow is much smoother, and our extra space for inventory has meant that we can complete many projects in a day; whereas it would take two or three days before or longer.
Best of all, we are love renting a space where we can significantly lower our risks of business interruptions. The peace of mind is priceless!
Some people have asked if we are bitter about the whole experience with the property owner and the management company. The true answer is, of course, is a resounding yes! We make sure to share our experiences with business owners when they ask about good buildings, leasing agents and management companies. We always tell the truth, and in case of our old building and property managers, the truth is truly scarry.
So, as we celebrate the beginning of our second year on Luhia Street, we look forward to what the year will bring.