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Community-Focused: Key To Success

62 years of Big Island Toyota investing in Hawai'i’s ‘ohana

Jackie De Luz is not only the President & Secretary of Big Island Toyota, but she also embodies the commitment to excellence established by her family. Her ancestors came from Portugal and arrived in Hawai’i in the mid-1800s. Since then, the De Luz family has served the community with a variety of businesses until they found their true passion: cars. 

David De Luz, Jackie’s father, began his journey in the automotive world when he started selling new and used cars for a Ford dealer in Hilo in the early 1950s. His passion and unwavering commitment soon led him to establish his own ventures, including Dave's Wholesale Auto Exchange and Big Island Rambler, Inc. Over the years, the business expanded to include franchises like Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru, solidifying David’s reputation as a pioneering figure in the Hawaiian automotive scene. 

Though Big Island Toyota’s business is in cars, it’s not really about the cars, according to Jackie. It’s about what a car represents and the aspirations everyone has. “My dad used to say that some people will never buy a house, but most of them hope to buy a car. That purchase is usually their biggest one. For us, it’s most gratifying to be part of somebody’s dream come true and see how happy they are to get a car,” she says.

As there is no public transportation on the Big Island, having a vehicle is essential to get around. Especially if you live on one side of the island and work on another. The company understood this early on and put its efforts into helping out the residents. “Providing a car, whether it is a new or a used one, figuring out a deal or a discount, or repairing a vehicle for a person, are ways we can take care of each other and give back to the community,” Jackie says. 

The dealership has always prioritized a customer-centric approach. The ethos of “Our people take care of the customers, and the rest will come” has been ingrained in the company culture, ensuring continued success and customer satisfaction. “It’s nice to see generations returning. Someone’s first car might have been a used one or a smaller one, and then they come back with their families and buy a bigger one,” Jackie shares.

Another key pillar of Big Island Toyota's success has been its community-focused mindset. Some dedicated employees have worked for the company for decades and built strong bonds. “My dad always said that we didn’t employ 130 individuals, but 130 families,” says Jackie. This led to the formation of a cohesive team and encouraged mutual celebration of individual achievements. “It is so good to see when an employee can buy a house after they’ve worked with you for five years,” she says.

Nevertheless, taking care of their ‘ohana is not the only philosophy at this company. As David De Luz's children joined him in the family business, they brought fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to further propel Hawai’i into the future. “We currently have six scholarships available to try to promote the automotive industry, as well as general scholarships for Big Island Students to attend college,” shares Jackie.

This program, launched in 1991, has the dual approach of offering financial support and providing invaluable hands-on experience through part-time employment with Big Island Toyota as a Technician Apprentice. This holistic strategy ensures that the students not only excel academically but also gain practical skills that are highly sought after in the automotive industry. 

Another way Big Island Toyota is making waves is by giving part of its earnings to sponsor local organizations. More than 150 entities have been the beneficiaries of this initiative–from churches to medical centers, as well as animal advocates to sports clubs. “We give priority to any organization that might be tied to our customers and employees. The criteria are that it has to stay on the Big Island, serve our keiki and kūpuna, and foster the local business. We try to keep what we give on the Big Island,” says Jackie.

But the commitment doesn’t end there. “We'd like to expand and improve our facilities and be even more part of the Hawaiian ‘ohana,” Jackie shares. “There have been talks about having places for community events because other than hotels, where do you gather big groups of people? It would be great if we could have that available for meetings and public service.”  

Looking ahead, Big Island Toyota’s programs continue to be shining examples of corporate social responsibility and educational empowerment. By investing in the people, the company contributes to the overall prosperity and growth of the Hawaiian community. With each sponsorship awarded, and each graduate mentored, the company’s commitment to driving success is reaffirmed, both on the road and in the classroom.

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It’s about what a car represents.

My dad always said that we didn’t employ 130 individuals, but 130 families.