Gas station owner celebrates 70 years in the business - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Gas station owner celebrates 70 years in the business

KAIMUKI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

This year Palolo Auto Service marks 70 years selling gas and fixing cars from its location on Waialae Avenue. Jim Hirakawa is 84 years young. He owns the business and still works at it.

"I think a human being has got to do things to keep themselves going," he said..

Hirakawa's father opened the Kaimuki service station in 1944 when Jim was thirteen.

"He was doing a lot of the repair work. But I was doing all the minor jobs like tire repair or changing headlights or whatever it was," Hirakawa said.

"He's pretty much the example of the hardest working person that you could imagine," Ross Hirakawa said of his dad.

Jim Hirakawa can be found pumping gas and doing repairs at least a couple of days a week.  He keeps things old school. His mechanics pump gas, and the station's paperwork is on paper not on a computer. When Hirakawa started with his father, 50 cents fixed a flat, 20 cents bought a gallon of gas.

"It was those tanks where you can see the gasoline," he said. "They had graduations on top because it was glass. So that's the way it was. Five gallons was one dollar."

Hirakawa was 19 when he earned his automotive repair certificate. After 70 years in the auto repair business, he said he can trouble shoot some problems just by listening.

"The sounds are pretty much the same with older cars and new cars," he said.

Ross Hirakawa now handles most of the day-to-day operation.

"I'm here more often than he is. But when it comes down to major decisions, he's still the boss," he said.

Hirakawa has been honored by politicians and others for his work and his longevity. He was once offered another job but his mother cried. So he stayed at the service station.

"I don't do tires and stuff anymore. Batteries get too heavy for me," he said.

Hirakawa said someday he will retire. But he has been saying that for years.

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