It began as a dream for Ronald Lee Kwai—to one day have his own business and to provide local employment opportunities in the community. His wife and business partner, Natalie Lee Kwai, recalls how a chance to obtain a guard license through a friend led to starting a security company in 2002. Operations were initially run out of the trunk of a car, with just two worksites and four guards.
Despite initial struggles, the Lee Kwais were determined to be both a reliable resource for their customers and a steady employer for their team. “Ronald had a motto,” says Natalie. “No matter what, he wanted to make sure that those local boys working for us could always put food on the table and feed their families.”
After a long day, I can lay my head down on my pillow at night and actually sleep, knowing I have ProService in my corner and one less thing to worry about.
– Natalie Lee Kwai, CEO
Through the Lee Kwais’ dedication, No Ka Oi established a presence in the community and began to expand. Yet, even with Natalie’s background in accounting, the Lee Kwais soon found that managing payroll and compliances for their growing business was complicated and time-consuming. A chance conversation over coffee between Natalie and a ProService Hawaii representative opened up the possibilities of outsourcing their HR needs to experts.
“He asked me how much I was paying for workers’ compensation coverage and when I told him, he was floored. He showed me what could be done through ProService and it was a third of the cost. I just said, ‘if you can do that for us, sign me up. You got me.’ ”
Then in February of 2007, Ronald Lee Kwai tragically passed away—within just a few days of the passing of Natalie’s father. While she’d been saving significant costs with ProService for more than four years, Natalie was now faced with taking over all business operations for No Ka Oi on her own during a tumultuous time.
Resilient, Natalie was determined to keep her husband’s dream alive and make sure the business they’d built together still honored his motto. With a local staff of HR professionals on Natalie’s side, ProService Hawaii proactively developed a short-term succession plan to relieve her of the administrative burdens that often come hand-in-hand with HR operations.
Acting as an interim HR Director for No Ka Oi in the critical months following Ronald’s passing, ProService took care of her employee paperwork, managed compliance filing, resolved any human resources issues promptly and made sure that payroll was handled with meticulous detail.
ProService experts guided Natalie through best practices as well. When an unusual issue arose with one of the No Ka Oi staff, Natalie wasn’t aware of all the protocols to properly document the situation and was about to start down a path towards a potential wrongful termination claim.
“It was an eye-opener. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s where the experts at ProService step right in to help set you straight. I was ready to handle it in a way that could have opened me up to liabilities without their invaluable counsel.”
Natalie has come a long way from the days when she was washing guard uniforms for the team and storing them in a four-wheeled office, to overseeing an operation of a dozen worksites and an elite team of thirty security professionals. The No Ka Oi service area now spans Wailuku, Kihei, Kahului, Lahaina, and Honolulu.
Through it all, ProService Hawaii has been there at every step to support Natalie and the success of No Ka Oi Guards. Adds Lee Kwai,
“After a long day, I can lay my head down on my pillow at night and actually sleep, knowing I have ProService in my corner and one less thing to worry about.”