Fifty years ago Ameritone Maui began with a leap of faith by Bob and Ruth Nakasone.
Using their family home as collateral in 1973, the Nakasones purchased the hardware division of MDG Supply Inc. where Bob had been working as the store manager. The paint business grew from a chance encounter between Bob and Clyde Smith, the president of Ameritone Paint Corp., who had been visiting Maui with his wife and decided to check out the local paint scene. Eventually, Smith helped Bob and Ruth get their start in the paint supply business.
Naming their new venture after the paint brand they chose to sell, Ameritone Maui has survived economic downturns and competition from Big Box competitors to become a testament to the Nakasones’ vision and dedication.
The first store opened at the MDG Building on Main and Market streets in Wailuku. Later, the Nakasones moved Ameritone to 339 Ano St. in Kahului, on the side of a warehouse behind a laundry mat. In those early years, Bob would borrow a forklift from nearby Smile’s Auto Repair, to unload shipments of paint.
With Bob’s hands-on approach to business, Ameritone Maui flourished, even as he balanced the demands of his business with the calling of Maui politics. First, Bob Nakasone served five terms as a Maui County Council member (three terms as chair), and later 16 years as a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives.
In 1981, Bob and Ruth opened the doors of the store at its current location at 140 Alamaha Street in Kahului, a proud milestone for their growing business. In 1994, Ameritone Maui established another location in Lahaina, near NAPA, cementing its presence on the island.
Sadly, Bob Nakasone passed away in December 2008, but his wife and family have continued the thriving family business.
While the Ameritone paint brand no longer exists, the spirit of the independent paint dealer thrives at Ameritone Maui. Now, PPG Paints is Ameritone’s primary brand. In the five decades since Ameritone opened, conglomerates have swallowed up as many as 20 smaller regional brands until now there are only about six major players. In a changing market, Ameritone Maui needs to change with the times to meet today’s consumer demands.
Stepping into the store, customers are greeted by familiar faces. The knowledgeable and experienced staff members have been with Ameritone for an average of 30 to 40 years, offering superior expertise and advice on paint selections and application.
Joni McGinnis, daughter of Bob and Ruth Nakasone, understands the value of a family-owned business in a world dominated by big box stores.
“Our employees are like family,” she said. “Most have been with us for nearly 40 years. They are the backbone of the success of Ameritone Maui. Dedicated and hardworking, we celebrate their commitment during the good times and are grateful for their grit during the hard times. Joy, the granddaughter of Bob and Ruth, joined the business in 2006. We welcomed the new generation and all its promises.”
"I believe people want to buy from a family-owned business rather than some big impersonal box store, especially if it's for their own home. We know our products, and we know what we're talking about when it comes to paint," she said.
Indeed, Ameritone Maui has left an indelible mark on the island's landscape. From hotels and schools to commercial buildings and countless homes, its paints have brought Maui vibrant colors and enduring beauty. The Nakasone family's dedication and expertise have earned a loyal customer base that includes both do-it-yourself homeowners and major paint contractors.
Ameritone Maui has also been a generous community partner. In 1979, the business sponsored its first Ameritone Maui Golf Classic tournament. At the time, it was a pioneering event because there weren’t many such tournaments. With the backing of Ameritone Paint Corp. and other local businesses, the tournament was an annual event for 19 years. It raised approximately $400,000 for the benefit of local nonprofit organizations.
Ameritone Maui's commitment to excellence extends to the next generation as well, with Bob and Ruth's sons, Byon and Vance, and daughter, Joni, strengthening the family business. This continuity ensures that the values and traditions instilled by their parents continue to guide Ameritone Maui into the future.
As Ameritone Maui proudly celebrates 50 years of business, the Nakasone family reflects on their accomplishments with gratitude and pride.
"Paint is our business," said Ruth Nakasone. “Our loyal customers know they get high-quality paint and exceptional service. We hope to continue our dedicated customer service for many years to come.”
As Maui continues to evolve, Ameritone Maui remains a steadfast presence, providing the island's residents and businesses with the highest quality paints and protective coatings.
Today, as Ameritone Maui marks 50 years of serving Maui's need for paint supplies and protective coating, it’s time to celebrate a local family business for its dedication, integrity and its lasting impact of bringing color and beauty to Maui, one brushstroke at a time.
140 Alamaha St.
Kahului, Hawaii 96732
Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1058 Limahana St., Suite 102
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Open:Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, closed
February 22, 2024