Daniel Arita (’07) didn’t expect someday to be the president of the company his father started. In fact, his first major experience in business was getting fired from the finance department and moved to the warehouse. All of this at the age of 14.

“They fired me from accounting and said [I’m] better off in the warehouse,” Daniel Arita, president of American Home and Floor, said.“From there, I worked in every department possible every summer, sometimes in the winter. My dad would get me involved in the business in every aspect.”

Arita’s upbringing in the business was prompted by his father, David, who is the founder of American Home and Floor. The flooring and carpeting company is based in Honolulu, Hawaii. They also offer kitchen-and-bath design and remodel services. But Arita would tell you that it required time and space while on Point Loma Nazarene University’s campus to realize he’d follow in his dad’s footsteps. 

“When I was going to college at Point Loma, the first two years I was seeking out: what do I really want to get involved in?” Arita explained. “I knew from the start that I’d major in business, but I just didn’t know for sure that I wanted to move back home and work in the business with my dad for the first two years.”

The American Home and Floor team.
The American Home and Floor team

“I kept my options open and I really love surfing. I thought maybe after I graduate I could get into surfing and maybe surf brands and be a rep or sales person.”

Arita spent his time at Point Loma juggling classes, intramural sports, surfing and a love to travel. He studied abroad twice while an undergraduate student, one trip in Costa Rica and another in Australia. But what really grounded him during his time at the school was his friends.

“I would say there’s a group of eight of us that still keep in contact,” Arita said. “Of that eight, one is from Hawaii and he’s been one of my best friends since like the 5th grade. Three others we met the first week of school at Point Loma our freshman year.”

Arita was in Young Hall and he had friends living in Hendricks. He said the Hendricks-Young competition was palpable. 

“There’s that rivalry between us and it lasts until this day,” Arita said. “We still talk about it. It’s funny how as the years go on, we all come together. We lived together in different times or different years and we studied abroad together.”

In addition to his friends, Arita said his time learning in the Fermanian business building was pivotal to his career path. At the time when he was a student, it was a brand new building.

 “I am so thankful they built that school because it really made me feel like my major was important,” Arita said. “One of the classes when I was at Point Loma I remember is management class. There’s things that I do now in business that the management class taught me. It’s reassuring to know that what I learned in school really does apply to real life things.”

“It’s reassuring to know that what I learned in school really does apply to real life things.”

Although his time in college was marked with time traveling, spending time with friends and having fun, Arita mentioned he does have one regret.

“I wish I studied more,” Arita said. “I remember being five or six years out of college and looking for notebooks because I remember learning about something but didn’t remember everything that they taught me.”

“I couldn’t find the notebooks. It’s one of those things where when you’re in college you feel like, ‘Well, am I really going to use things?’ And you actually do use a lot in your real life jobs. You just don’t realize that until a few years into the job.” 

His decision to step up for the family company came during his junior year of college. He realized that the original surf brand dream didn’t align with his goals and he had to seize the opportunity that had followed him since he was 14. 

“I looked into it more and realized they don’t make a lot of money,” Arita said. “So I think it was my third year. I told my dad, ‘Okay I’m going to come back home and work in the business.’”

“It took some time. I knew it was always an option. I saw it as an opportunity.”

And he has taken on leadership in some of the most pivotal ways. This year, Arita was named “20 for the next 20” by the Hawaii Business Journal. This is a prestigious title given to 20 individuals on the islands who are making tangible impacts in their businesses and the broader community. Arita has helped expand the company to include kitchen and baths, cabinets and other remodeling opportunities. He joins this group of 20 people who are the people to look out for in their work for the next 20 years.

“There’s a few different things in Hawaii that you shoot for,” Arita said. “And the 20 for the next 20 is one of them.”

“It really helped me solidify, I want to build my business, but it’s really the changing of the community in Hawaii and how do we help the people of Hawaii flourish and grow and build their lives in the next 20 years?”

“I felt that I wasn’t ready to get this award. I’ve only been president for a few years. I felt that there’s more that I wanted to prove to really get this award, but definitely I felt so honored to be nominated and chosen.” 

“It really helped me solidify, I want to build my business, but it’s really the changing of the community in Hawaii and how do we help the people of Hawaii flourish and grow and build their lives in the next 20 years?”

One of the ways Arita has invested in the local community is through his work on the Aloha United Way board. He’s in his second term serving for this group. Aloha United Way is a nonprofit organization that assists other nonprofits in funding. 

“They also help with 211, which is the phone call service that helps people who are in need, whether they need rent help or whether they need counseling,” Arita said. “They also help with the Alice Initiative which is for people who are on the brink of being in poverty. In Hawaii, I think over 40% of the people are in that area. Being in that group, it’s amazing to see what they do and how they help so many different nonprofits.”

But the issue Arita is most invested in is housing.

“It costs so much to live in Hawaii,” Arita said. “Being that we’re in the remodel industry, that’s really where we can make a difference and look for products that are affordable to help with these affordable projects in the future.”

Arita said his vision for the business was largely formed because of the path his father set him on. From faith to business to mentorship, Arita expressed the impact his father has left on him.

“My dad is the biggest mentor I have,” Arita said. “He’s still a huge mentor for me. I enjoy calling him everyday on the way home. I have like a 30 minute drive. I call him and just update him on what’s going on and get some feedback from him.”

“He set the foundation for who I am as well as the business. For me, it’s really important we carry on his legacy. This is our 50th year of being in business and I definitely feel the pressure of keeping this business going for another 50 years.” 

“He set the foundation for who I am as well as the business. For me, it’s really important we carry on his legacy. This is our 50th year of being in business and I definitely feel the pressure of keeping this business going for another 50 years.” 

He also pointed to his Point Loma friends as pivotal figures in his life.

“My friends from Point Loma are mentors, and I hate admitting it but through their experiences in life whether that’s through family or faith or their businesses, we teach each other things,” Arita said. “We learn together.”

Regarding the future of American Home and Floor, he’s excited for the ways it will grow. The company is 100% employee owned, which means the employees have shares in the company simply because they work there. 

“With employee ownership, we’re 100%, which means the employee owners own 100% of the shares,” Arita said. “My dad and I own 0%. We’re technically the only two employees and everyone else is an owner.”

This change happened in 2011 while David was still president. But Daniel has continued the business model. More than continuing the model, he’s invested and believes in it.  

“We decided okay we need to switch gears on how to move our company forward and it can’t be about my dad, myself, or our CFO making the decisions about the company,” Arita said. “We need more people making decisions and more people engaged. We changed our whole way of doing business.”

“It incentivizes people to want to grow within the company. If they grow and get a raise, they’re probably going to get more shares too. It’s a benefit for employees.”

And that benefit hopefully will keep returning a profit both financially and tangibly in the community. For the future of the business, Arita is expectant of the ways it will continue to grow. And hopefully, a third generation will step up to the plate down the line.

The Arita family smiles for a photo on a dock in Hawaii.

“I have a son; he’s three. My daughter, she’s one,” Arita said. “I would love for them to be in the business. My wife is an emergency physician. She does not want them to be doctors and so I said okay they can be flooring doctors like me.”

Perhaps they’ll make their way into the finance department or warehouse when they hit the rite-of-passage age (14), but if they don’t there’s a plan for that too.

“Hopefully, they get into the business and if they don’t that’s fine,” Arita said. “I think because we’re an employee-owned company, we’re set up to have succession planning if I don’t have a family member that wants to take over the business.”

“My goal is to grow the company but make it sustainable to where anybody who loves the business and wants to grow the business can come in and run the business.”

“My goal is to grow the company but make it sustainable to where anybody who loves the business and wants to grow the business can come in and run the business.”

While his journey in this career hasn’t always been perfect, Arita said the key for loving his job has been plugging in and impacting his community.

“I love the company that I work with,” Arita said. “That, of course, came easy because of my dad.”

“Have I been 100% happy during my time with my dad? Absolutely not, but my love for making customers happy, finding the right products, seeing the final outcome, working with our team, working with our vendors, it’s a fun business.”

“To me, the secret is really focusing on what you want to do while you’re in college. It might be hard to figure that out while you’re in college but that’s the time you need to make a good decision and move forward.” 

To the next 20 for Arita. And to the next 50 for American Home and Floor.

Lainie Alfaro is a student at PLNU studying multimedia journalism. She's currently the marketing and research assistant at Viewpoint, and she was previously the editor in chief of The Point student newspaper.