Business plummets for Aiea companies along rail route

Kamehameha Highway

As construction for rail moves down its planned route along Kamehameha Highway, so does its impact on businesses.

Some Aiea companies are complaining about a sudden drop in customers. But are HART officials listening?

They are and are looking at ways they can help businesses that are said to be down by more than 50 percent.

For the past month, the main entrance to Mobile Car Audio in Aiea has been blocked with barricades on Kamehameha Highway. So what used to be the company’s exit is now its only entrance.

“I think we usually did maybe 20 cars a day would be our average. Haven’t done one yet for today,” said owner Ryan Lung. “In 20 years of doing business, this is the greatest threat that I have faced.”

Lung says business has plummeted 75 percent since last month because of this work, which is being done for rail.

Next door to his company is Auto Detail Kings, which is also seeing a decline.

“It became very slow the business, about maybe 60 to 65 percent,” said owner Channon Narvaez.

Business owners KHON2 talked to say if customers miss the only entrance they have, they probably won’t do a U-turn and come back, since it would require driving through the mess of cars again.

“They don’t want to feel stupid, they don’t want to look stupid. They’re just going to pass and go to one of my competitors,” Lung said.

“People are having a hard time finding our place or think we’re actually closed,” Narvaez said.

There is a sign pointing out the entrance, but the business owners say it’s small.

KHON2 checked to see if more could be done. A HART representative who visited the area says the barricades will remain there for the rest of the year, but more signs may be placed slightly down the highway, alerting customers of the approaching entrance.

“Do you think having more signs up will help?” KHON2 asked.

“It may help,” Narvaez said.

“Well, the signs are a bit late to the party,” Lung said.

Lung said he might put up banners outside his business to attract customers and will use social media to promote his business.

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