LORI KOMER

Episode 6

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Lori Komer – Owner of Leahi Swim School

Leahi Swim School is the largest private swim school in Hawaii. From its inception, the Leahi Swim School has taught tens of thousands of children to swim. They currently employ over 55 part time swimming instructors and is now teaching children of former students. The School recently launched a new program to teach adults to swim which affects over 50% of Hawaii adults. This program is spearheaded by her son, Ben.

Lori Komer took a swimming certification class in college to fulfill her P.E. credits and realized that she liked that much better than her dental hygienist major. With some help from her husband she started teaching swimming lessons and eventually founded the Leahi Swim School in 1974.

Lori shares with us her stories and experiences of how she got started and forged her way in a male dominated business environment. She talks about the succession of her business to Ben and the breakthrough moment in her business.

Lori is currently planning to expand to the west side of Oahu with Ben. Lori shares with us the joy and pain of passing on her business to her son. She is a board member of the Hawaii Opera Theater and former board member of the Hawaii School for Girls.

Some questions asked:
Why did you start a swim school?

When you first started, how large was the school? Number of teachers and students? How large has the school grown to now?

How did you expand/grow?

How old were you when you started swimming?

Is swimming something you’ve been passionate about? Other interviews talked about turning your passion into a career or moneymaker, was this your intention?

Were you always an entrepreneur? Who guided you?

How do you find young adults to assist with lessons? Are they trained?

Why do you teach in heated pools?

You teach adult swim classes also, is it difficult for adults to learn to swim as opposed to learning as a child?

What makes Leahi different from other swim schools?

Is running the swim school business your main occupation?

What did you do before the swim school business? Did you quit your job to start the swim school or did you make the leap to doing the business full time slowly? How did you know it was time to just focus on the swim school?

How did this come about, what is the story behind the LSS?

What are your thoughts on being a female businesswoman?

What did you do for marketing in the beginning to gain credibility?

How do you find talented employees?

How long did it take you to get to ‘critical mass’? What was the turning point?

How do you use the internet to help your business?

What’s your competitive advantage and how do you keep it?

Do you have advice to females who want to go into business or start a business? Any advice of where they can get assistance?

What are Leahi’s plans for the future?

You’re looking for a pool in the Leeward area, what are you looking for? Mention website and when classes will be held next…contact number.

When you knew you wanted to start the LSS what was the first thing you did?

How long did it take to write your business plan?

What were the major milestones achieved to get LSS up and running?

What was the most difficult challenge to getting started and running your business?

How did you obtain financing?

What community organizations or non profits are you involved with?

How has that helped your business?

Do you find it harder to do business because you’re a woman?

Any advice for today’s young business person?

What are the 3 biggest mistakes people make when starting their own business and what do you suggest for them to overcome these mistakes?

How did you develop your business skills and entrepreneurial abilities?

BIO:
Leahi Swim School was founded in 1974.

We are the largest private swim school in Hawaii.

We are a Charter Member, and a Champions Club member of the United States Swim School Association.

We employ 55 part time swimming instructors (I’m usually their first Boss).

We are now a year ‘round school with weekday and Saturday classes scheduled.

Some of out teachers were former students of mine.

We are now teaching children of former students.

We have a new program in Hawaii to teach “Adults Afraid of the Water”. This tackles the large issue of teaching an adult to “swim” but never feeling truly comfortable in the water. My son Ben Komer is trained in this technique and has a growing group of relaxed swimmers.

We are expanding to the Aiea/Pearl City area.

Leahi Swim School

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Episode 6