We are excited to shine this month’s HHG Spotlight on Luke Octavio, Operations Manager at our manufacturing plant in Kea‘au. This June marks Luke’s 29th work anniversary with Mauna Loa. For nearly three decades, Luke has proved his commitment to our people, our products, and our organization time and time again. Learn more about all that Luke has accomplished in the HHG Spotlight interview below.
Can you share how your career at HHG started and how your role evolved over the years?
Growing my career with HHG has been quite the journey over the past 29 years. I first joined the company fresh out of college, as a Data Entry Clerk. In this role, I started building a foundational understanding of production data, manufacturing orders, and inventory control. From there, I worked hard and made my way up the ranks – from Production Planner, to Production Floor Supervisor, and then Production Manager.
Each of these opportunities challenged me in their own ways. From learning how to manage people, to building strong cross-departmental relationships, and of course, the ins-and-outs of actually processing macadamias and manufacturing our delicious finished goods. All these experiences helped me develop the knowledge and skills that I now use in my current role as the Operations Manager at Mauna Loa.
I was promoted to the Operations Manager role earlier this year. It has been an exciting challenge to take on and I still have a lot more to learn. In this role I work with nearly every department, both at the plant and on the corporate side. The most important thing is that I do what I need to, to support everyone around me. At the end of the day, we are all on the same team, and we all want to be successful together.
What does a typical day look like for you as the Operations Manager?
We start pretty early here and I’m typically onsite by 5:00AM to get things going. Each day looks different, but my priority is always that our departments are working towards the same goals and that we are operating safely. People safety and food safety go hand-in-hand and are the number one thing for us day in and day out.
I spend time each day connecting with our team members at the plant and on the production floor. Through talking story, I build strong relationships with our team, and I have the opportunity to make sure we are aligned on the how and why we are doing certain things. This is super important, because I need our team to feel comfortable coming to me when they have concerns or issues so that I can help find a solution. While we can’t always solve problems overnight, every day and every week, we are working hard to continuously improve.
What are the top career lessons you’ve learned so far?
The importance of honesty and building & maintaining trust with the people you work with. The work we do is impacted by the relationships we have with each other, and trust is a major part of it. My team has to trust that I have their best interests at heart, and I have to trust my team to get the job done efficiently, safely, and to our standards.
My dad used to tell me, “If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.” That is something that has stuck with me for many, many years. Trust is how you build or break relationships, and earning people’s trust is something I work on every day.
What do you find most rewarding in your current role?
From my perspective, the most rewarding thing about my job is seeing my people succeed – individually and as a company. I think of myself as the offensive coordinator that can set my team up for success by providing the right tools and information. It’s my team on the ground that is truly making things happen, so supporting them to the best of my ability is something I take very seriously and is one of the best things I believe I can work towards.
What excites you about Hawaiian Host Group’s future?
Having MacFarms become part of the Hawaiian Host Group family is such a positive thing. I’m looking forward to us getting back into processing macadamias as a company and learning more about MacFarms’ capacities as we continue to grow. We’ve definitely got some exciting times ahead of us!
HHG Spotlight Quick Takes:
How do you typically spend your weekends?
I’m a big sports fan and most weekends I spend time outdoors, and collecting vintage sports cards. I umpire a few times a month for our local youth baseball league and for the Makule League, which is a group of old-school local softball players. I’m also currently working on the 1952 Topps Baseball Card Collection. So far, I’ve collected about 176 of the 407 cards needed for the complete set. If anyone has any 1952 cards laying around, please let me know.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
There’s a lot I’d like to say to my younger self, but…it would have to be, “Be more patient when dealing with other people.” I didn’t have much patience when I was younger, but it’s something I’ve learned over the years – especially now that I have grandkids.
What is a quality or skill you think everyone should have?
A sense of humor. Life is too short to be grouchy, so a sense of humor is absolutely something that everyone needs in my opinion.
You recently went viral as “Braddah Luke.” Has the fame changed anything for you since then?
Haha! When we did the Instagram shoot with Zavier from HowsDisGuy, it was a lot of fun. He was a cool cat and was cracking me up. We’re from the same hometown, Kalaheo, so that was an awesome connection to make. Nothing much has changed though, I didn’t let the fame go to my head – lol!
Mahalo to “Braddah Luke” for everything you do to support our teams and keep our Kea‘au operations running smoothly!
Are you interested in working with Luke and the rest of our team at Hawaiian Host Group? Check out our Careers page to see if we have an opportunity for you.