Letter from the Founder of Hawaii Remodeling

Jim Cook reflects on the magazine's start 40 years ago.
hawaii remodeling
Photo: Archive Image

Late last year, I picked up a copy of Hawaii Home + Remodeling at City Mill and was thumbing through it, enjoying the articles when it dawned on me that we would soon be welcoming the year 2021.

Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was 40 years ago that I was shopping in City Mill when I got the idea to start a home improvement magazine called Hawaii Remodeling. Forty years ago there wasn’t much in the way of resources for homeowners who wanted to remodel. There weren’t any showrooms to display products for home improvement, much less talented designers who could help with ideas to improve older residences. Very few contractors did remodeling as they were kept busy building new homes.

Surveys said one of the greatest fears the public had was selecting reliable and competent contractors to work on their homes and finding suppliers of products suited to remodeling. Among my friends were owners of businesses that sold cabinets, flooring, doors, windows and a host of other construction products. I also knew a lot of good contractors through my job for a publishing company that produced magazines for the construction industry. And I knew a lot of architects and designers from belonging to a number of trade associations.

Why didn’t someone publish a home improvement magazine to help homeowners connect with reputable suppliers of products and services? After talking with a number of other publishing firms, I discovered that no one knew how to get this information homeowners needed into their hands. Paid subscriptions were too costly, blanket mailing free copies wouldn’t work either as the publisher wouldn’t know if the magazine was going to someone who was actually a homeowner or was interested in improving their house.

Then it dawned on me. I bet that all my fellow shoppers at City Mill were likely homeowners and not only that, they were doing something to improve their homes otherwise they wouldn’t be spending money at City Mill. It was then that I met Steven and Carol Ai and Howard Chong. They were the family that owned City Mill and thankfully they liked the idea of having a home improvement magazine for their customers to read that would help them with their homes. If there were any angels in my world, it was these folks at City Mill.

Several months later I founded the magazine you hold in your hands now. It wasn’t the version you see today called Hawaii Home + Remodeling. Lynda Cook did the graphics and a couple of other friends helped with the writing, photography and advertising. After 20 years, it was time to retire, so we sold the publication to PacificBasin Communications. The folks there have improved the magazine in amazing ways and the professional and polished publication you see today is the result of a number of very talented media people who comprise the staff of Hawaii Home + Remodeling. The mission is still the same: Help homeowners with their homes.

Forty years. Who woulda thought?

Photo: Floyd Takeuchi

Jim Cook, Founder of Hawaii Remodeling

Categories: Celebrate a Milestone, Industry Insider