The Fourth Branch Interviews Deal Fair Store, General Manager: Rowena Aisek


Rowena Aisek is a citizen of Chuuk and a graduate of Xavier High School in 1995. She received a BS in Criminal Justice, emphasis in pre-law from Chaminade University of Honolulu in 1999. She continued at Chaminade and acquired a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice in 2001. Currently she is the General Manager of Deal Fair Store in Chuuk.

The  Fourth Branch Iterviews Rowena Aisek, the General Manager of Deal Fair Store in Chuuk.

Provided is Ms. Aisek's written interview:

The questions were compiled from our website, our email, handed to us personally and collected through various other means.

TFB: "How many employees do you have?" 

DFS (RA): "121".

TFB: "How many customers do you have on record?"

DFS (RA): "Not sure."

TFB: "[H]ow many stores and outlets do you have?"

DFS (RA): "We have 9 outlets"

TFB: "Is there more money coming into Chuuk or going out?"

DFS (RA): "Not sure."

TFB: "If  Chuuk comes completely bankrupt and [there is] no more gasoline at the  gas pumps, would you ride a carabao or a bicycle for transportation? 

DFS (RA): "[laughs].  Bicycle, definitely."

TFB: "Which has more nutrient[s], KON or Steak? If both explain.."

DFS (RA):  "Kon, of course.  Because it’s a fruit, it has no fat, no sugar, no  added preservatives.  Just breadfruit, water, and a lot of love  [laughs].

TFB: "What will happen to chuuk if [your business] closes down?"

DFS (RA): "Chuuk will go on..[laughs]."

TFB: "What is your main obstacle in running the family business?" 

DFS (RA): "The power/electricity problem in Chuuk as well as the bad roads.  The daily power outages affect us not only because we have to spend money on diesel to run our backup generators on a weekly basis, but also because the outages interfere with our daily routine.  Also, it destroys our appliances such as coolers and air conditioners.  The bad roads are a major problem also in that the poor condition of the roads destroy our vehicles.  It also takes much longer for us to get from Point A to Point B due to the bad roads."

TFB: "How do you handle so many employees and store outlets and manage to keep them under control?"

DFS (RA): "Delegate responsibilities.  Each outlet and department has a supervisor who is responsible for the employees working with him/her in that particular outlet.  Also, you must have rules and the supervisors are in charge of enforcing the rules in the workplace.  We have regular meetings where everyone has a chance to voice any concerns that they may have."

TFB: "What is your driving force in your continued commitment in doing what you do?"

DFS (RA): "My driving force has always been my family."

TFB: "Was it your dream to run your family business? If no, then what career would you have pursued in life?"

DFS (RA): "Actually, I got my degree in Criminal Justice.  I was planning to go to Law School.  Going to Law School has always been my educational goal.   I was never able to go to Law School since I moved back to Chuuk to take care of the family business.   When I think back, I believe that going back to Chuuk and working for the family business was the best decision I made in my career."

TFB: "[Are you] planning on running for office sometime soon?"

DFS (RA): "No, I don’t have any plans of running for office."

TFB: "[As a young business woman] what are you[r] fearful thoughts in running your [b]usiness? What are the ups and downs of your business now that you[‘re] taking the helm? How good are you with people or your employees? What is the turn over percentage of hiring and firing?

DFS (RA): "One fearful thought I have is that foreign businesses that we won’t be able to compete with will come swarming into Chuuk.  We try to keep our employees happy by providing certain privileges that they can take advantage of while they are employed with us.  At the same time, I have learned that in this type of business, you must also enforce your rules in the workplace in order to maintain order.  Termination of an employee is always the last resort. The most common reason for termination is due to stealing. I would say that we hire more than we fire. The biggest reason for employees resigning is because they start moving abroad to places like Guam and Hawaii.  On the other hand, we have a handful of employees who have been working with us for more than 15 years."

TFB: "What do you think about local products? Instead of importing things like coconut juice and canned fish, why not support the local fishing and agriculture?   

DFS (RA): "This is a very good question.  I have to admit that in the business I’m involved in, it’s the consumer who dictates what we sell."

TFB: "If Chuuk takes a downturn for the worst in economy, would you be willing to sell a can of mackerel for five cents?"

DFS (RA): "Might as well just give away the can of mackerel [laughs]."

TFB: "If Government raise[s] tax to help fund operations, who should pay more taxes, businesses or employees?"

DFS (RA): "Businesses."

TFB: " Are you planning to expand your business to the rest of the Micronesian islands?"

DFS (RA): "I have thought about it, but nothing concrete at the moment."

TFB: "What do you think about Chuuk’s private sector?"

DFS (RA): "I think the private sector is quite resilient considering all the problems we face on a daily basis (power crisis, bad roads, etc.)"