By Renée Tillotson

Dustin Hara just about bursts with enthusiasm and authenticity. His life story really inspires me. He simply emanates his commitment to sharing what is good with others – in this case a safe, effective air and surface sanitization system called HIRO Systems Hawaii, that is non-toxic to human beings and pets, a system that sanitizes within minutes for pennies, is medical grade yet gentle enough for a baby’s crib. His company’s newest project goes live this weekend with what he describes as an “almost Disneyland-like immersive experience” in their 5000 sq. ft showroom – at Ala Moana shopping center.  And yes, HIRO sounds like “hero” on purpose: “It’s times like these when we need a hero” being their motto.

Dedicated to people helping people, Dustin, Chairman & CEO, and his business partner David Yonamine, President & COO, made sure that HIRO donated close to 1500 complimentary sanitization treatments in 2020. They put out the word, “If you have a COVID-19 outbreak, call us, and we’ll come sanitize for you.” And everyone from the police department, the fire department, the Department of Education, many businesses, as well as friends and family members got their spaces sanitized by HIRO. Really though, Dustin and David designed HIRO as a do-it-yourself system that is “fun, safe for kids, usable in everyday lives, and eco-friendly”. They aim to make their system available to everyone for an economical cost, sometimes even on a trade basis for other services.

Locally born and raised as the eldest of 7 children whose father and mother were both ministers, Dustin seems to have serving the community, always giving back, and feeding those who are hungry written into his DNA. His one and only job started at age 15 and lasted for twelve years. He started as a rice cooker and dishwasher for Genki Sushi, and eventually helped them open 12 locations on island, working his way up to their highest executive position.  

Along the way, Dustin thoroughly absorbed their Samurai philosophy of Kaizen:  “A never-ending journey to self-improvement, innovation and growth.” Not only did he learn great personal discipline and a strong work ethic at home and at Genki, he also learned a very systematized approach and a devotion to personal relationships within the company and with customers.

Some of you remember that a decade ago only a couple Mexican restaurants existed on island. Once Dustin decided to stretch his wings beyond his one-and-only job, he started Surf & Turf Tacos, an enormously popular restaurant offering Mexican-local fusion cuisine, eventually in three locations, with the biggest one in Waikiki. 

Along the way, Dustin used his personal experience as a successful business owner to share his wealth of knowledge and experience with others. He started a small business consulting company as well as an investment group that helped small local businesses to launch successful enterprises.

A good friend of Dustin’s, David Yonamine, always has his ear to the ground, listening for what’s trending in the world and locally. When he told Dustin back in October of 2019 – way before most of the rest of us knew that Covid-19 was a thing, let alone a HUGE thing – David and Dustin were far ahead of the game. They soon recognized the oncoming tidal wave of the pandemic starting in Wuhan, identified Waikiki as the stepping stone to and from Asia, and foresaw the probable effects of the pandemic here in Hawaii and beyond. Suddenly foreseeing a possible apocalyptic shutdown, Dustin changed Surf & Turf Tacos’ to a take-out/delivery model. By thinking outside the box and looking ahead, he increased their revenue by 35% while other restaurants were closing left and right.

Now remember, Dustin is committed to the Kaizen principle of a perpetual journey of self-development and innovation. Was he going to settle in and simply sail along on the success of owning 3 highly profitable restaurants? Of course not. As of next week, he will complete his sale of the last of his three restaurants so that he can devote more attention to HIRO Systems Hawaii. 

As they started to see the pandemic unfold, Dustin and David decided they had to do SOMETHING to help people stay safe. They holed up for 6 months, studying everything they could get their hands on about the history of past epidemics, what their health and economic effects were, how people counteracted them, and how long it took for people to feel safe again. They dove into deep research and development to come up with a solution to protect people’s health.

After checking out about 150 air and surface sanitization systems, they learned that they were almost all very expensive and based on toxic chemicals that would require people to vacate the premises for 48 hours, with a significant loss of revenue. From a small business owner standpoint, as well as someone devoted to helping families, Dustin wanted a system that would be “safe, cool, fun, and affordable, without adding onto someone’s cleaning tasks”. And so they came up with HIRO systems Hawaii. This video will give you a good glimpse into the products they offer, showing how easy and safe it is to use, as well as the solid science behind it.  As he explained to me, with their nano atmospheric sanitization technology, 1 gallon of the safe, non-toxic solution can treat 4 million cubic feet. Each treatment can be released in 2.5 minutes, for a price of only $1.70 per treatment for a 25,000 square foot space!

As HIRO did more and more sanitization in 2020, they discovered the true value of Hawaii’s “coconut wireless” way of spreading the word. They also recognized another way of helping all the many folks struggling with unemployment. Family, friends, and new-believers were sending more and more customers to HIRO, so Dustin and David decided to share the wealth and reward people who gave them referrals: HIRO now has over 800 ambassadors. Their Sidekik system (because every hero needs a sidekick!) enables their consumers to inexpensively create their own sanitizing solution of three simple ingredients: salt, water and vinegar to form the compound called HOCL, a remarkably effective, safe substance used by even dentists and doctors for sanitizing. It’s also a substance created by our own white blood cells to combat disease.

As a hero (!) HIRO is committed to providing the community with as many eco-friendly defenses against disease as possible, including cutting edge face masks, face shields, and 10-minute rapid result Covid tests. David calls their company “a beacon of light that operates out of faith, not out of fear.” His experience shows him that “leading with the heart, giving first, always comes back around”. 

For our health-oriented readers, you will appreciate another part of Dustin’s personal journey. Dustin started out as a hefty, big local boy with a local-boy eating style, weighing in at nearly 400 pounds. For the last seven years he’s committed himself to a vegan, organic approach to eating, shedding more than half his weight in the process. To me, this part of his journey illustrates Dustin’s whole-hearted commitment to any endeavor he undertakes, a necessary attribute of any true hero. Dustin is definitely a new hero of mine!


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