Owner, Alliance Personnel Inc.
Selected for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center’s Certification Training Cohort 3A/3B. Despite not having a college education, she’s a hardworking and persistent business owner, and is now in the beginning stages of getting her business certified.
June Fernandez, owner of Alliance Personnel Inc., wasn’t able to obtain a college degree as planned, but she hasn’t let that stop her from establishing herself as an experienced business professional in the tourism and recruiting/staffing industries. In May 2021, she was selected to participate in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center’s Certification Training Cohorts 3A and 3B.
June, who identifies as Japanese and Caucasian, comes from humble beginnings, having moved to the U.S. from Yokohama, Japan in 1972 speaking little to no English. In addition to being a full-time business owner, she serves on the Board of Directors with the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce (HJCC), as well as Aloha United Way’s Women United group. She also received numerous awards that recognized her and her business as a top woman-owned business, top staffing firm, and The Best of Honolulu.
Alliance Personnel Inc. is a recruiting and staffing agency for both temporary and permanent hires. When working with employers and clients, June mentions that the majority were from the tourism, hotel, travel, and retail industries. June was motivated to start Alliance Personnel Inc. after hearing the firm she worked for previously, was closing. She quickly thought about purchasing the company and refinanced her house a couple of times to keep the company and keep the payroll afloat in 2003.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, June noticed more employers started asking for temporary hires to cover vacancies, and more individuals of various backgrounds became her clients because of the sudden surge of unemployed locals here in Hawai’i.
“Our goal has always been to give back to our communities and nurture our workforce. When working with our clients, we do a series of interviews and assessment tests to find the right match for both clients and companies.
Within the industry, there are many challenges, including ever-changing labor laws,” June recalled. “Sometimes it’s like walking through a land mine. You never know what laws will be added or removed, especially with the pandemic occurring. Keeping up with the employment laws has been the constant shift I’ve seen in the industry of working with various businesses and potential employees.”
But with the hurdles of owning and operating a small business also come many rewarding moments, including seeing the impact on families in Hawaii. “Just knowing how much of a difference we’ve made within our clients’ lives is one of the most gratifying moments I can feel. Sometimes people just need a little help to get them going again, and just being that person is amazing,” June shared. “Then, it amplifies when they remember us after they received our help. These families send us cards, visits, or phone calls letting us know how thankful they are for our company and just being there for them when they needed help. Another rewarding moment is when we place an overqualified client in a position, but they get promoted to a higher position that they deserved. It’s so amazing! A lot of our clients become presidents, vice presidents, or move to higher positions within their companies, and many of them are women. Some of them were the first female to become a general manager or president of their respective companies.”
June applied to the MBDA EWOC Business Center’s Certification Cohort 3A and 3B after receiving an email from YWCA Oʻahu with information about the course. At first, she felt intimidated by the application because of the amount of information required but realized she could do it with the assistance and support offered by the Center.
“I always looked at the application and started it, but never finished it. I’ve always wanted to do it, but thought I never had the time. As time went on, especially with the pandemic, I found more time on my hands to get the process going and submitting the application,” June said. “Also, I have a few government and corporate contracts under my belt, and they always asked if we were certified, but I would always say ‘I didn’t know about getting my business certified,’ because I truly never heard about it. After 18 years in business, I never knew about it, so finally being able to look into it and seeing a free course being offered, I knew it was time to just go for it.”
June is now in the beginning stages of getting Alliance Personnel Inc. certified. She recognizes and thanks Marí and José Villa from Villa Business Consulting (VBC) Inc., YWCA Oʻahu, and the MBDA EWOC Business Center for all of their support and help.
As a piece of advice to woman-owned small businesses, June said, “There’s so much to do behind the scenes when you build a business. I would advise getting a banker if it’s possible. The more help you can receive in the early stages can make a huge difference in the success of your business. You can’t do it all yourself. You have to be open to help and don’t be afraid to ask for it. It also helps when I surround myself with people with knowledge. Because of the numerous things changing every day, you have to keep up. Knowing that you have someone to help you, with his or her expertise, can be a big game changer!”