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May 16, 2018 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Martin and MacArthur
1815 Kahai St
Honolulu, HI 96819
Linda Collard, Executive Director

Martin & MacArthur – Rotary on the Road – 16 May 2018

Location: Martin and MacArthur Headquarters and Production Facility

1815 Kahai Street, Honolulu

Time: from 11:30 am to 1:15 pm (need more time for this outing)

Cost: Zero as they are treating us to lunch

Parking: Park behind the vehicles in their parking lot. (Those are employee vehicles and will not be moving while we are visiting.) Carpooling is also recommended. I'll have my van available again.

Martin & MacArthur’s craftsmen have been the premier makers of koa furniture and beautiful home accessories for more than 50 years.

Founded by Jon Martin in 1961, the Company was at the forefront of reviving an appreciation for koa wood – an exceptionally beautiful species of the acacia genus grown only in the Hawaiian Islands.

Irving Jenkins, author of a book on Hawaiian furniture and Hawai'i's cabinetmakers, calls “Martin & MacArthur the single biggest and lasting influence on the wood-crafting industry in the 20th century.”

“As the largest handcrafter of koa furnishings in the world, Martin & MacArthur has played an important role in keeping alive the traditions of classical Hawaiian furniture.”

Texas-born Jon Martin grew up building stage sets and props for his parent's theater production company. He developed his woodworking skills at McKinley High School when the family moved to Hawai'i in the mid-1950s, and later worked with master boat-builder T. Murakami. 

After serving with the Army in Korea, Martin opened a small shop building cabinets out of a Kaka'ako garage in 1961. Local businessman Douglas MacArthur joined Martin to handle the administrative and financial side of the company in return for a 50 percent stake. Martin & MacArthur began with a mission of reviving the art of fine furniture in the classic style of Hawaii.

Martin designed and built the furniture, a true master craftsman. But his strength, has always been identifying the beauty in roughhewn koa planks and matching similar or complementary pieces of wood to create beautiful furniture. 

"It's the most varying wood in the world. Koa comes in all shades and a variety of beautiful grains. To me, this fancy hardwood that grows only in Hawai'i is the most magnificent wood on earth.” ….Jon Martin

Most of the few large-scale factory producers of koa furniture died out after World War II. Martin & MacArthur has been the dominant manufacturer since the 1970s.

In the 1980s, when classical Hawaiian furniture was enjoying a resurgence, Martin trained about half of all Island cabinetmakers. “(Martin) influenced every area of the koa furniture industry in Hawai'i," Jenkins said. "Jon just has a passion for making furniture."

In 2008, Jon Martin made the decision to retire. Doug MacArthur had already moved to the Big Island to pursue his real estate career. So, Jon found the perfect owners to carry on his legacy. He sold the company to Michael Tam and Simon McKenzie.

Martin said, “Michael is a visionary and an innovator. Moreover, he understands the legacy and cultural foundation of Martin & MacArthur. Our leadership and heritage in the Hawaii market will be strengthened through his experience and insights." 

Michael Tam, a graduate of St. Louis School and Northwestern University, brought extensive executive leadership experience from a range of companies, including Starbucks, Nordstrom, American Eagle Outfitters,

McDonald's and Borders Bookstores, where he was senior vice president and chiefmarketing officer.

When the company was purchased in 2008, there was the Kalihi workshop/warehouse, where all the furniture and business operations were located, in addition to three retail stores that sold home furnishings, art and hand-crafted gift items: the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Ala Moana Center and The Shops at Wailea. 

Today there are 16 stores in Hawaii and 2 in Las Vegas with more to come in the future. 

POC: Sylvia Makk Email: