Rob Burns is the founder of several local businesses, among them Local Motion, Island Snow, and the Hawaiian Style Band; after selling Local Motion, and his other retail and wholesale businesses in 1991, Rob became a Realtor, and has been one ever since.  He is Native Hawaiian/Haole, grew up in Kailua, and attended public schools.  Rob isn't a politician, and his motivation is only to help and serve.  He is solution oriented and can find a solution to just about any problem.  Many people in Hawaii know Rob, but for those of you who don't, read his interesting biography below.



A Commitment to Hawaiian Traditions

Rob Burns is something of a local celebrity here in Hawaii, having founded the surf and clothing company, LOCAL MOTION, in 1977 with $25, bucks in his pocket. Rob built Local Motion into a multi-million-dollar business, and sold it in 1991 when he was just 40 years old.  Retirement at 40 turned out to be just a tad boring, so he decided to turn a passion for buying and selling real estate into a new career, and has been a Top Producer ever since. Rob recently joined his team of Hawaii friends at List Sotheby’s International Realty, specializing in the Hawaii luxury market.

As a native Hawaiian, Rob’s knowledge of “all things Hawaiian” is incomparable. His unique talents as business creator, sales and marketing expert, life-long design and merchandising experience, negotiator, surfer, surfboard shaper/maker, music producer, musician, and now top real estate agent, combine with his exceptional “local knowledge” (some call him “The Hawaiian Google”) make him the best choice to be representing you. As he says, “It costs the same amount for the best representation as the worst: you choose”.  Rob’s life story, is an interesting noe, to for "the rest of the story", keep reading.....

, keep reading...

Childhood in Kailua

Rob was born in May 1953 in the sleepy town of Kailua. His mother, a hapa-haole native Hawaiian, married a Naval Officer from Annapolis MD as he came through Hawaii at the end of WWII.  Rob was the youngest, and only boy of three children: Val, Donna, and Rob.  Rob was a natural at many things, especially making things to promote and sell, at a very early age. “I was an entrepreneur before I ever heard of the word”.  He is a self-proclaimed “Graduate in the Top of my class at the ‘Universe’ of Hawaii, (not University)”.

Rob has always been someone to know, as he seems to know everybody. His friends run the gamut from garbage men to Governors and anyone in between. Although he was slow at learning to read, Rob wasn’t worried because he could sell anything and everything, from marbles to Li Hing Mui.  This included assorted items he made by himself or bought in quantities, things that he “knew” kids wanted to buy in smaller quantities.  Rob picked up bottles on Kailua beach and returned them to Kalapawai Market for the money needed to finance items he wanted to sell in school the following week.  With little food, shoes, few clothes, and even no ambition, life was one big “ain’t no big ting bruddah” batch of fun, until he began to surf at age 12 and needed money for a coveted surfboard.  Although middle class, no money was available to the kids in the family, Rob had to make his own; so he sold misc items at school, and saved his 25 cent daily lunch money, eating the items girls were about to toss into the cafeteria trash bins. He lived with one divorced parent, his mother until his senior year in high school, when he moved in with his Dad.  Says Rob, “I learned quickly with the help of my father what it costs to live. 

My Dad was scholastically a genius, being the youngest graduate of Annapolis, at the time.  He gave us graduating kids all the money needed to survive but nothing else. Then he would charge back our share of everything we needed: rent, utilities, food, etc., which we had to pay to him, from the money he gave us.  This was like a reverse mortgage.  We turned off water and lights so fast it would make your head spin, as we learned quickly about living within our means and not wasting. “Waste not, want not” became alive for us and at the end of the month if we were lucky to have any money left over we could buy anything we needed or wanted, if not we went without until we "made some money.”

Rob was raised mostly by his Mom’s Hawaiian friends and family, as his father’s family lived on the Mainland.  Rob observed that, among his friends and family, Hawaiians were sharers and non-Hawaiians would rarely share any of their “stuff”.  He recalls after surfing Drive-in trips, where his friends wouldn’t even share one French fry with him; it was an eye opener and helped him understand that he had to basically rely on himself, and to earn everything he wanted (beyond family “sharing”).  Once, a teenaged Rob found a bike that was tossed in the garbage by someone, and it had no tires.  He took that bike and rode it for years, on the bicycle rims.  “It was great, I never had to lock it anywhere, (including hours at the beach) and it was quieter than you would think.”  He learned to accept what was, and was happy to have anything.  Years later, totally unsolicited, one of his high school friends apologized for being so “stingy” and not sharing his fries, that still brings tears to Rob’s eyes to this day.

Family History

Rob’s Dad was Don Burns and is said to be a descendant of the poet Robert Burns.  After being stationed in Hawaii after the war, he married one of a duo of Hawaiian beauties and entertainers, (the “Holt twins”) Barbara Holt.  Later, Don moved his brother Allan Burns and their mother to Hawaii, where Allan went on to graduate from Punahou, and later become a well known TV and movie writer in Hollywood. Allan wrote The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, Rhoda, The Munsters, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and many others (including inventing George of the Jungle and Captain Crunch!). He also lent his nephew the original $3,000 Rob had asked him for to start Local Motion.

Rob’s mother Barbara was half of the Holt twins. Her mother was a descendant of her namesake Pricilla Alden of the  passengers from the first ships to arrive in America, the Mayflower.  She was half Hawaiian from the Hewahewa clan, who were the right-hand men and Kahunas for King Kamehameha.  Her Western descendants, who arrived in Hawaii circa 1820 were the Holts, who had gotten the lease in the whaling days for Honolulu Harbor with partners John Dominis (his son married Queen Liliuokalani) and James Robinson, owner of the island of Niihau, even today. The Hawaiian shield has her two family members, the Namahoe twins at each side of Hawaii’s motto, Ua mau ke’ea o ka aina I ka pono, which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”.  Eventually “Bobbie” (Barbara) became the official greeter for all the movie stars who visited Hawaii. She was raised hanai by her Uncle Liko Vida, who was a great baseball player and friend of Babe Ruth, Duke Kahanamoku and other notables.  Duke Kahanamoku and Liko traveled the world together, teaching people about surfing, and it is said that they left their surfboards on the East Coast, and those boards are now in the Smithsonian Institute. Another bit of trivia: Shirley Temple stayed in Lanikai in the 30’s while filming in Hawaii and Shirley’s people would pick up Rob’s Mom and identical twin sister, Patty to play with Shirley at her Lanikai home. At that time Lanikai was merely watermelon fields with few homes. Rob’s grandfather was offered half of an entire street in Lanikai with 2 One bedroom homes for $500 and he passed on the offer. Some of the family still live in Kailua.

The Local Motion Story

Rob began shaping surfboards in high school, as the only way to obtain one of them for himself. He later shaped for Lightning Bolt Surfboards, ghost shaping for “Mr. Pipeline”, famed surfer Gerry Lopez. It was during a trip to visit his Uncle Allan in Hollywood, that Rob got the bug for creating a business. While in L.A. Rob was shocked to see how much clothing his family bought every day, and quickly figured there must be a market for that sort of thing (even though he still only wore the same pair of surf shorts and no slippas, seeing “jogging shoes” for the first time, in California). After visiting his Uncle, he woke up one evening after a dream in which he had opened a surf shop. Rob then stayed up for two days brainstorming, and afterwards quickly called Uncle Allan for a loan, and with the creative help of his two sisters, came up with the name, “Local Motion”.

Rob was a good surfer, Hawaiian canoe paddler, and tennis player. He wanted the name of the store to reflect the Hawaiian lifestyle and not a particular sport. All the sports were local and in motion so the logo had to say it with an image which was associated with Hawaii, so he chose a coconut tree and sister Donna drew it up. After some real cut and paste (by “real” we mean actual tape, scissors and paper...) and art adjustments, the logo was completed.

The location was next and he had seen a Hobby store moving out of a great location in Kailua, across from the Police Station when he went to eat breakfast next door. Landlord, Mr. Honda gave him a chance, and for $225/month Rob got a 400sf retail location.

Local Motion’s first inventory were 5 surfboards he made, 3 dozen Local Motion t-shirts and 2 dozen LM surf shorts, resins and repair kits for surfboards. Business grew quickly and steadily and after a business that doubled in sales every day his landlord leased the property to 7-11 and Rob had to move. He decided to move to Honolulu and landed a good location in the middle of the 1 mile “surf shop row” on Kapiolani Blvd. Eventually every surf company on that street went out of business while Local Motion thrived. Wondering why? Perhaps it was the service, authenticity, products produced by Local Motion, and Rob’s marketing and merchandising skills learned as a kid. One location turned into 7, island- wide, and the wholesale side of his company grew to 700 accounts world-wide. After purchasing two other labels, Kahala Sportswear and Hawaiian Style, Rob decided the surf market was changing into street wear which was not his interest (and was something that his staff wanted to pursue) so in 1991 Rob sold his company for an undisclosed amount and retired at 40.

Retirement at such a young age was not for Rob, so he began to buy and sell Real Estate, which was a passion and remains a passion for him. Rob puts his vast “local knowledge”, marketing, all his business acumen, and winning personality to work for his clients, always going “above and beyond” to help his clients. You’d be as likely to find Rob in torn t-shirts and shorts, digging and planting in his listings yards, as in a nice Aloha Shirt signing million dollar deals.