A Secure Storage Place

Lawaii Cannery and Self-Storage sits on the site of a former cannery

Lorna Santos and Ben Silva
Lawai Cannery and Self-Storage

Please tell us about this business.

Lorna: Lawai Cannery is a self-storage and industrial warehouse. We have more than 600 units. The sizes range from 5-by-8-feet up to 12-by-30-feet for a mini storage unit and from 600 square feet to more than 6,000 square feet in our covered warehouse. We also have smaller storage for luggage, as well as a wine vault that is refrigerated. The business opened in 2005 and we have four employees.

What roles do you each fill here?

Lorna: I am the on-site property manager.

Ben: I overlook the facility for the owner Michael Osborne.

How did this business get started?

Ben: Michael had a house in Koloa and was looking for a business to run here. He decided to do a demolition on this facility. It was an environmental nightmare what we had here before – it was the old cannery. It had cars just dumped here, jugs of waste oil, and the boiler room was full of asbestos. It had a lot of major clean-up. Michael saw the potential and restored it from there.

What kind of security system is in place?

Ben: All units are individually alarmed. As soon as someone opens the latch, an alarm goes off. Plus, Lorna lives here.

Lorna: We also have a key pad and surveillance cameras.

Ben: The units have metal doors, and the gates automatically lock at 9 p.m. at night. We have never had any security problems.

Do you ever have special events?

Ben: We do garage sales to support nonprofit organizations.

Lorna: Anybody can be a vendor. What we do is instead of renting tables like at a craft fair, we rent a unit and we give you 5 days to set up in it. We do it for organizations like Project Grad and Relay for Life. It happens every other month and always benefits a nonprofit. The next garage sale is May 6 and will benefit Hanapepe Pop Warner.

Ben Silva in the storage facility. Coco Zickos photos

What’s the most peculiar thing you’ve ever seen in a storage unit?

Ben: I’ve seen people store their classic cars at other facilities. Other than that, you don’t want to know.

What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever found?

Ben: A koa rocker.

Do you ever attend auctions?

Ben: Since I worked at this facility, I would go out and go to auctions. I’ve been doing that for many years, and since the show Storage Wars started, it’s been crazy. We got a lot of couch potatoes coming out and driving up the prices.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working here?

Ben: The reason we like it here is because of the owner. Even though he is from the Mainland, he has the aloha and he is really worried about the environment. He really did a lot of things to this area, including clearing county property adjacent to this place and opening up the bridge. He’s a really kind-hearted person.

What’s the most challenging aspect of working here?

Ben: Right now it’s hard because a lot of people are falling behind on their payments because of the economy. That’s the hardest part, to see people lose their stuff. When I go to auctions, we put all their personal stuff – photos, papers – in a box and try to get it back to them.

Lorna: Having to collect money is the hardest part. We feel sorry for everybody. But even if their stuff is up for auction, we try to work with people. And we only have auctions about once a year. Auctions are fun, but it’s sad on the other end.

What makes you get up every day and do this?

Lorna: For me it’s because the owner is such a nice person and we want to do the best we can for him.

Ben: And he likes the way we run the facility because we try to give the aloha back.

Lawai Cannery Self-Storage
3470 Lauoho Road