Maui’s technology sector, which employs about 2,000 people, provides the economy with healthy diversity and represents a sustainable strategy for further development, aligning with values voiced by the community through the Focus Maui Nui process. One of the leaders in this area of “clean” growth is the company founded in 1997 by Vaughn Vasconcellos—Akimeka, LLC. This award-winning global enterprise fills Information Technology (IT) needs for the Department of Defense and state agencies. Akimeka, based in Kihei, is now one of Hawaii’s largest information management and technology companies.
Vasconcellos was raised on Molokai and attended Kamehameha schools before graduating with an engineering degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an executive master of business administration in strategy from Northeastern University. In 2000, the Small Business Administration for the State of Hawai’i selected Mr. Vasconcellos as Entrepreneur of the Year, and since then, prestigious awards have continued thanks to a dedicated staff and through hard work.
Akimeka was named one Hawaii’s “Best Places to Work” in 2008. Vasconcellos was named Hawaii’s Small-Business-Person of-the-Year (SBPOY) for 2009. Akimeka has become a “family of organizations” with more than 220 employees in operations spanning Hawaii and Texas, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. In August 2010, Akimeka was acquired by VSE Corporation and continues to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Vasconcellos’ aim of creating jobs goes beyond building business to supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. The Alaka’ina Foundation, a not-for-profit Native Hawaiian Organization (NHO) founded by Vasconcellos focuses on building leadership programs for native Hawaiian youth in rural areas and Hawaiian Homestead communities.