My Family Story
Ray and Gloria Kobayashi’s 48-year marriage has always been a partnership in business and in life. They met at a real estate convention in Honolulu. When Ray discovered that he had more fun building homes than selling them, he got his general contractor license and started RK Builders, Inc. in 1974. Ray’s first home was an 880 sf package home, which he built for $12,000 and sold a year later for $24,000. Since then, Ray has built over 600 homes in almost every subdivision in East Hawaii, a 20-unit townhouse (Kawili Regency), an 18,000 sf warehouse in the W.H. Shipman Business Park, a 16,200 sf warehouse in Pahoa, and several shops in Prince Kuhio Plaza.
The Story of RK Woods
Ray’s passion for local hardwoods didn’t start out small. In fact, it kind of started off pretty big, with the purchase of a 100-acre Ohia forest in Pahoa. That is where Ray built a 16,200 sf warehouse and installed four kilns to dry locally harvested hardwoods, especially Koa. Back then, the price of Koa was low so Ray used Koa in many of his custom residential homes in order to differentiate himself from other contractors. But we think he did it simply because he loved seeing the look on other people’s faces when they saw the rare beauty of the wood. Ray’s one of a kind master builds are his own home in Waiakea Uka and a three-story Japanese castle in Kaiwiki. Every room features local hardwoods like Koa, Mango, Ohia, Robusta, and Sugi Pine, all grown right here on the Big Island. And since the price of Koa and all of these local hardwoods have skyrocketed, Ray doesn’t think it’s possible to rebuild these two homes with the same local wood additions. When the Hilo Fire Marshall told Ray that he had to move all of the Koa wood off the floor at his warehouse in W.H. Shipman Business Park, Ray started making Koa rocking chairs, custom cabinets, tables, chairs, panel doors, jewelry boxes, and urns. And again not one to start out small, Ray purchased an industrial 5 x 10 CNC production machine. So that is how Ray’s passion project, RK Woods, got its start. With this CNC machine and a laser engraver, his product line has expanded from handmade furniture to now wooden signs, commissioned art projects for businesses, and Augustine Guitars.
The Story of Happy Ship
We at Happy Ship are proud to feature the The Little Wiggly™, which is made right here in Hilo, Hawaii by RK Woods. Happy Ship started out as an Amazon FBA seller, then a Shopify drop shipper, to finally a family mission focused store selling our own locally manufactured products. We keep evolving as the world keeps changing. We want to thank you for your support and for your purchase. You keep inspiring us to do more.
When ship happens, ship happy.