By Ava Wilkinson

Maja and Colby Ayonon

Maja and Colby Ayonon

Last summer seemed to be much more humid and hot than any summer I remember. A “Make your own AC unit” video on YouTube went viral, so we decided to try it. After $30 worth of materials and 50 pounds of ice, the experiment was a success. Too bad it only lasted two hours.

So what’s a better option for a long term-solution? An air-conditioning system, of course!

“For a lot of Kauaians it’s becoming more a matter of being able to live comfortably in their homes and workplaces rather than merely survive the heat waves of Kaua‘i’s year round weather” said Colby Ayonon, owner of Kaua‘i Air Conditioning & Refrigeration.

Cyndi and Bobby “Airbob” Ayonon, Colby’s parents, founded Kaua‘i Air Conditioning & Refrigeration in 1991. It was essentially a two-man operation until 2005, when Colby and wife Maja Ayonon graduated from college and decided to run the business.

Perhaps transform would be a more accurate description, because today, Kaua‘i Air Conditioning & Refrigeration has grown by more than 1,000 percent. Their future is cool and bright. So how did it begin?

Colby and Maja Ayonon

Colby and Maja Ayonon

Maja attended university at Linfield College in Oregon as a business management major. Enticed by reuniting with his high school sweetheart and getting to play soccer with a renowned coach, Colby also attended Linfield College. He double-majored in applied physics and mathematics, and envisioned his future as a mechanical engineer.

In 2005, the couple decided to spend one last summer on Kaua‘i before Colby would pursue his masters degree in mechanical engineering. However, once on island, Colby got motivated to take on the family business. Spending time on island with his parents, his wife and his beloved role model, grandfather John Sanchez, weighed on his decision.

Quickly, Colby recognized the need for growth. Clients were waiting months for a new air conditioning system, so Colby hired another technician. Maja became the office manager and ran the behind-the-scenes activities. The business expanded to include commercial buildings. Moreover, Colby transformed the business by education and changing the culture of air conditioning.

“Our concept, what we’re moving towards is to look at a building with a holistic approach,” he said. “Yes, we can put in an air conditioner but how is your lighting? Is your lighting contributing to a lot of heat? Should your windows get upgraded? What type of heat is your refrigerator generating?”