BEING THERE THROUGH IT ALL MINIT STOP/ OHANA FUELS
Minit Stop/ Ohan Fuels has locations on Maui and the Big Island in several of the areas that were hit hardest by the fires. From the very beginning Their dedicated employees found ways to serve first responders and their community as they dealt with the crisis.
When the first fire started in Upcountry Maui on August 7 the Makawao and Pukalani locations thankfully did not have to be evacuated. Foodservice Manager Tanya Doyle, took the opportunity to organize and provide 30 meals from the Makawao Store to the firefighters and other first responders who were battling the fire.
On August 8, 2023, multiple wildfires erupted on the Big Island, leading to a mandatory evacuation order. Road access to Minit Stop Kawaihae was cut off. In response, shift manager Eric Federizo transported food to the first responders battling the blaze. According to Racye Kaaua from the highways division helping with the fire, the provided food managed to feed everyone who was helping fight the fire.
In Lahaina on August 8 power went out in the morning, and many businesses made the decision to close for the day. Despite being unable to pump fuel or prepare hot food, Sheila Bueno, district manager, and Emily De Gracia, store manager, chose to keep the local Minit Stop open. They were motivated by the continuous stream of community members expressing gratitude for providing access to food and drinks. They eventually had to close at 3:30 PM, and just an hour later, an evacuation order was issued. Thankfully, all the employees are safe.
On August 9, 2023, with the Upcountry Maui and Lahaina fires still uncontained, another wildfire was threatening Kihei. Kahaiu Freitas and Michelle Mercer from HQ were dispatched to aid the store and allow employees to evacuate their homes, which were in the fire’s path. As the fire escalated and smoke encroached, it was decided to close the store. Thankfully, the fire didn’t progress further, sparing homes from harm. Later, the store reopened to prepare food donations for first responders.
Since the fires the Minit Stop/ Ohana Fuels leadership team has focused on their team members’ welfare. Samuel Howarth, Human Resource Director, guided affected employees through the process of securing temporary shelter and registering with FEMA and other essential agencies. Meanwhile, Antoinette Palisbo, Minit Stop Safety Manager, orchestrated the provision of supply kits to ensure their employees’ immediate needs were met.
Minit Stop’s parent company, Saltchuk, in collaboration with the wider Saltchuk family of businesses, rallied together to mobilize financial support for their staff members’ recovery. They raised over $130,000. All funds were distributed to those impacted. This effort extended not only to those directly affected but also encompassed employees whose immediate family members faced the impact of this unfortunate event.
On August 12 Kimo Haynes, company President, confirmed that Minit Stop/Ohana Fuels in Lahaina was unharmed. With fuel being crucial for the community, Kimo mobilized leadership to reopen the fuel station. Estefano Ferrari, Facilities Director, secured a generator while Garrett Glassen, IT Director, arranged for a Starlink system to provide Satellite Internet.
Minit Stop Lahaina resumed fuel operations on August 12, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the resilient Minit Stop/Ohana Fuels team, including employees affected by the fires, and the invaluable support of MEMA (Maui Emergency Management Agency) volunteers. Over four days, Minit Stop provided 1,450 fills, offering $20 free fuel to those in need. Residents with means chose to purchase fuel, leaving the free supply for their neighbors, showing remarkable generosity.
In the following month, Minit Stop extended complimentary drinks and snacks to first responders, including fire, police, sheriff, and national guard personnel stationed in the area. To meet the community needs, their Lahaina team prepared food in Kahului and delivered food to Lahaina daily. This continues today as they await water restrictions to be lifted.
Greg Cabantin, Minit Stop General Manager, spoke about their role in the recovery in their communities, “We recognize this is going to be a long and complicated recovery. Maui is our home and we continue to support the community. In addition to a generous donation to the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Petroleum, Ohana Fuels, and Minit Stop continues to support grass roots organizations, like Ikaika Ohana, Honokawai Relief, and others, with donations of food and fuel.”