Digging The Construction Biz

Andy Ragasa has a civil engineering degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa | Coco Zickos photo

Andy Ragasa has a civil engineering degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa | Coco Zickos photo

Andy Ragasa
Vice president, KOGA Engineering & Construction Inc.

Please tell us about your business. KOGA is a site work construction company. What that entails is civil-engineered site work, meaning excavations, roadways, underground utilities, foundation work and anything else to do with the earth. It could be commercial, residential, and in both private and public sectors. We have a total of 10 field employees, who hold positions such as foreman, heavy-equipment operator and mechanic. KOGA is a statewide company with operations on Kauai, Hawaii island and Oahu.

What does KOGA stand for? Malcolm Koga, who unfortunately recently passed away, is the founder of the company and started the business in 1973.

Where are you from and what college did you attend? I’m originally from Hawaii island and was born and raised in Kohala. I went to Kohala High School, and upon graduation I attended a five-year program at University of Hawaii-Manoa and earned a civil engineering degree in 1984.

What is your professional background in this field? Out of college I went to work for another firm that, at the time, was called M&E Pacific (now AECOM) — a civil design engineering firm. While I was working there, I got my professional engineer’s license. In 1989, I jumped companies and started with KOGA and have been with them now for 26 years.

What was your first job with KOGA? I started off as a project engineer on Oahu and then I worked myself up to project manager. In 1996, I moved my family to Kauai because they had an opening here as an island manager and they offered me the position. It worked out really well. I was born and raised in Kohala, which is country and similar to Kauai, so to me, it was like going home. I love it, still love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.

When did you become part-owner? We were offered shares around the time that I made the move to Kauai. Eventually, as the first-year officers retired, we were able to purchase their shares, and we’ve grown since then. I became vice president when the first-year officers retired, which was in 2010.

What makes you get up every day and go to work?

I like seeing things being built; I like to see heavy equipment and machinery running and turning the earth and instilling our mark within the community. I also like coming to work in this environment because the founder of this company created a close-knit ohana mentality. We have a good core of employees.

What are some local projects you are proud of? When I first moved here, we did Kapaa Middle School. We also did Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. In addition, we worked on the Kauai Judicial facility and all of those buildings there, like the Police Department and Kauai Bus facility. In 2010, we did the Kukuiula Golf Course clubhouse. We’ve also had numerous Department of Water projects — it is installing new water systems throughout the entire island and we’ve had our share of that work.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? There’s never a dull moment. There always is a learning opportunity because there always are challenges in the field. Anytime you deal with digging into something unknown, it’s always a challenge. But when you succeed, it’s such a good feeling.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of this business? To see a project get completed on time within the budget and without any issues.

What are some of your future aspirations? We’ve been on Kauai since the 1980s, and we plan to be here well beyond the day I retire. Right now, I’m actually trying to find someone to succeed me on Kauai.

KOGA 1740 Haleukana St. Puhi Industrial Park 245-9505 kogaengineering.com