The aloha spirit

California native flexes his entrepreneurial muscles in Hawaii

When Paul a. Staples went on vacation to Hawaii in 1984, he had no idea he would one day live there, much less carve out a successful career in real estate.

Today, Staples, now 38 and a sales associate with Century 21 Hale Ohana Realty in Kailua, Hawaii, is shooting for the $3 million mark in sales volume. But his financial success and tropical home are a far cry from his past. Staples grew up in a low-income, drug-infested neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay area with his mother and brother. “My father, the sole provider for our family, left us when I was seven years old,” he recounts.

“I remember’ once asking my mother for spending money and she dug two pennies out of her purse. It was all she had,” he recalls. “It struck me how hard she worked to make ends meet.”

Staples married shortly after his trip to Hawaii. While his wife, Lolita, stayed home to raise the first of their four children, he attended the Hawaii campus of Brigham Young University, where he earned an associate’s degree in computer information systems and a bachelor’s degree in human resource development. He also held down two university jobs as a computer lab assistant and an usher at a cultural center.

After graduating in 1987, he worked as a manager for a local Safeway grocery store, earning $25,000 annually. After five years, he quit and took a bakery job that offered higher pay and more flexible hours, which he used to test the entrepreneurial waters.

In 1995, Staples started a drain cleaning business with $500. “! was charging $50 per drain,” he says, “and some days I brought home an extra $300.” Still, he remained unfulfilled. Having once taken a real estate course, he began to reconsider the field as a career option. In 1996, he gave up his cleaning operation to sell residential homes and beachfront properties. “We drained our savings, and lived off credit cards,” says Staples. By the time he was hired by Hale Ohana Realty later that year, the family was about $14,000 in debt.

Determined to succeed, Staples generated first-year sales of $391,000. The next year, his sales volume increased 400% to just over $1.5 million, securing him the award for Top Sales Agent of the Year in his real estate office. By mid-1998, Staples, with $1.65 million in sales, was on the brink of eclipsing his previous year’s record. At this pace, he expects to achieve his $3 million volume goal and increase his annual salary to $100,000 by early 1999.

Staples’ success is also his family’s. “I want my kids to have something better than I had growing up,” he says. In three years, he expects to have his broker’s license and head his own Century 21 franchise. “Many said I wouldn’t be able to make money in a competitive real estate market. That angered me enough to strive to prove them wrong.” Now Staples is having the last laugh: “If you’re willing to get out there, stay

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