Image of John Roth - Attorney in Hawaii

Planning Peace of Mind

An Interview With Estate Planning Attorney John Roth

Image of John Roth - Attorney in Hawaii

THE END. No one wants to think about it. But the fact is, being human means living in a great mystery. We can never quite be sure how much time we have. For many, this means living life to the fullest. It also means thinking about what will happen when you go. What kind of legacy (or headache) do you want to leave for your loved ones? This is exactly the kind of uncomfortable question that John Roth, founder of Hawaii Trust and Estate Counsel , helps his clients answer. I sat down with John to learn more about his backstory, his firm, and the services they offer.

Law for Breakfast

John grew up on law. His dad, Randall Roth, was a long-time law professor at the UH Manoa Richardson School of Law and served as President of the Hawaii State Bar Association and other notable legal organizations like the Hawaii Justice Foundation. Conversations about his dad’s work, students, and broader legal issues in Hawaii were common around the kitchen table.

After undergraduate school, law felt like a natural path for John. He earned joint J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from the William S. Richardson School of Law and Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii–Manoa in 2007. Upon graduating, John knew he didn’t want to go to court as a lawyer. “Estate planning is not conflict-oriented,” says John. “It’s about helping people and educating people, giving them peace of mind.” After gaining experience working for two other law firms in Oahu, John founded Hawaii Trust and Estate Counsel in 2014 on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Just Ask John 

I asked John what question he gets most from clients. “What’s the difference between a will and a trust…and do I need a trust?” says John. Questions like this one and others that might be keeping you up at night are conveniently answered on his blog, Just Ask John. The blog was inspired by a column he used to write for West Hawaii Today of the same name. Think Dear Abby, but for estate planning. 

For example, in his blog post Why Use a Trust Rather Than a Will, John writes:

          It is possible to use either a “will” or a “trust” to direct property into the right hands following your death. 

          While wills accomplish little more than that limited goal, trusts can also be used to avoid the probate process and perhaps accomplish other goals, such as protecting property            in the event of a lawsuit, minimizing taxes, and reducing the chances of lawsuits.  Such trusts must be funded with property while the person is still alive.  That is why they are              sometimes called living trusts.

         The main reason many people use only a will is that living trusts can cost more to establish and perhaps add a degree of complexity. 

“A trust is more complex to set up, but it can make it easier for someone to step into your shoes in the event of your incapacity or death,” says John. To determine whether a client should create a trust, John meets with them to assess their unique life situation. Some of the factors to be considered include what assets you have, your family circumstances, and what your goals and priorities are. 

Peace – The Gift of Estate Planning 

John’s light-hearted, upbeat personality makes him an easy person to talk to, even when it comes to the tough stuff. “I consider myself an educator,” says John. “I help people make educated decisions.” His ultimate goal through educating his clients is to decrease the potential for disharmony in families after a loved one passes. 

Death and loss come with an emotional charge. People aren’t at their best when they are grieving, and everyone handles the process differently. Smart estate planning takes the pressure off. It can allow people to come together rather than have conflict.

About Hawaii Trust and Estate Counsel  

John’s firm specializes in estate planning, offering services like wills, disposition of remains, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, and HIPPA release form. In addition, they offer probate administration, trust administration, charitable giving, medicaid awareness and asset protection. 

Their flagship office is located in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii. They have offices in Hilo and Kona, as well as in Wailuku on the island of Maui. They also make house calls on Oahu. 

The firm’s team includes John Roth, associate attorney Willam “Kumu” Belcher, who is based in Hilo, and John’s dad Randall Roth, who is of counsel to the firm. Krystal Kauka is the firm’s administrative assistant. You can read the team’s full bios here. In 2016, John was recognized as one of Hawaii’s “40 Under 40”,  by Pacific Business News for his work. 

Image of John Roth - Attorney in Hawaii

His Suites Story 

John’s firm has been using Suite Possibilities conference room rental services since its founding in 2014. With their main office in Waimea, Suites offers them a convenient, professional space to meet with clients in the heart of Kailua-Kona. “What I love about Suite Possibilities is that we pay when we use it,” says John. “It’s an efficient way to keep our overhead as a small business low.” John usually comes to Kona once a week to meet with clients. 

Giving Back

John is passionate about giving back to the community. He’s given educational presentations to organizations like Tutu’s House and Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union. Social distancing during COVID inspired him to take his educational presentations online in a webinar format. To stay in the loop on upcoming presentations and other helpful resources, sign up for his newsletter and follow @hawaiitrustlaw on social media. Check out his YouTube videos too!

The Painting Lawyer 

When he’s not helping clients with estate planning, you can find John painting in his home studio. Check out his awesome paintings @johnrothart on Instagram. He lives with his husband David in Waimea. 

About the Author 

Emily Gleason is a writer and web designer based in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Learn more and connect with her at: https://mthewriter.com/

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picture of corey yeaton - owner of Pacific Blue Catchment

Rain Man

An Interview with Pacific Blue Catchment Founder, Corey Yeaton

picture of corey yeaton - owner of Pacific Blue Catchment

In April 2021, a large landslide cut off the headwaters for Kohala Ditch, a major water source for north Hawaiʻi. Many farmers, ranchers, and landowners in the area were suddenly without water, scrambling to figure out what to do with dozens of thirsty cows and horses. Corey Yeaton, owner and founder of Pacific Blue Catchment, got a call from one such family on a Thursday. By Monday, Corey and his team had gotten the family set up with a 2,500 gallon tank to capture rainwater off the roof of their home. Today, with upgrades to their system, the family is now catching 26,000 gallons of rainwater off their roof and are totally self reliant. They have been able to bring all their livestock back to their property and no longer worry about water. 

They are confident they can make it through the Kohala dry season.

Wai Ola

In ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, ‘wai’ means freshwater, while ‘waiwai’ translates to wealth. This is certainly no linguistic accident. When you live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, freshwater is an especially valuable resource. 

Here in West Hawaiʻi, many people are connected to county water, which is sourced from a series of wells. Our groundwater reservoir is replenished by the rain, which filters through the porous lava rock beneath our feet. If you’ve ever been in the ocean, you’ve probably felt this ice cold fresh water seeping out from beneath the sand. We are fortunate to have this reservoir of freshwater. However, distributing the water to a growing population on a rugged volcanic island presents its own challenges. 

Why Catchment? 

“Don’t be a drain, catch the rain” is Pacific Blue Catchment’s cheeky tagline. With so many people moving to Hawaiʻi in the last decade, the county water system is overburdened. In addition, people that live mauka of the highway experience poor water pressure due to the steep elevation. Other more remote areas cannot get county water at all. Unlike some places on the mainland, the cost of drilling a well through lava rock is prohibitive for property owners. 

Rainwater catchment is an alternative that many property and business owners are turning to as a way to take control of their water supply and reduce their environmental footprint. “Catchment is like solar power in that it gives you a level of autonomy,” says Corey. If a well fails and the county issues water rationing, you don’t have to worry. If rates go up, you don’t have to worry. You have your own water supply. 

Tracing the Source

When I ask Corey about the inspiration for Pacific Blue Catchment, he says it was all about “being at the right place, at the right time.”  The place was in Ocean View on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, and the time was 2008. Corey had recently moved home to Hawaiʻi after earning a BS in Environmental Resource Science at the University of California, Davis and was working for his brother’s pool business. Driving around servicing pools, he couldn’t help but notice a huge need by residents that was going unmet: help with their water catchment systems. 

He started small, developing a “tank route” between Kona and Ocean View where he’d check the PH of residents’ water tanks, clean dirty tanks, and perform maintenance like changing filters and liners. “There were a lot of times I’d be responding to calls at 8 or 9 pm at night,” says Corey. He answered his phone, listened, and met the needs of clients. Word spread fast. Soon, he began offering rainwater catchment system sales and installation and his service area rapidly expanded from Ka’u to Kohala. 

Corey’s aim from the beginning was to offer a “caring, conscious service.” Growing up in Holualoa, next door to Doris’ Place, Corey learned to value a strong sense of community, where you look out for each other. This same community-mindedness drives his business. It’s this approach, plus the highest quality rainwater catchment systems that sets Pacific Blue Catchment apart. 

About Pacific Blue Catchment 

Pacific Blue Catchment offers rainwater tank sales and installation, monthly maintenance, and repairs. They have four different types of tank packages from basic to premium, including Pioneer sealed metal water tanks and pre-tank filters for the safest, cleanest water. They can also help with irrigation systems and drainage and landscape solutions. They serve clients from Ka’u to Kohala and work on all kinds of catchment systems on residential and commercial properties. Learn more at: https://www.pacificbluecatchment.org/.

picture of corey yeaton - owner of Pacific Blue Catchment

Their Suites Story 

“We currently have a 100% five star rating on Google Business and Suite Possibilities is a big part of that,” says Corey. 

PBC has been a client at Suite Possibilities since 2017, where they rent a professional office space and utilize administrative and financial services like bookkeeping, bill pay, and emailing and faxing documents to clients. “Suites is an affordable place to professionalize our business,” Corey says. Having a brick and mortar office space where he can meet with clients and display his certifications and awards helps to build trust with clients and adds to the company’s professional image. 

About the Author 

Emily Gleason is a writer and web designer based in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Learn more and connect with her at: https://mthewriter.com/

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Business Lawyer - Scott March with dog Wylie

Pain Free Lawyering

An Interview with Business Lawyer Scott March

Business Lawyer - Scott March with dog Wylie

Most people cringe when they have to talk to a lawyer. What’s this going to cost me? Are they going to use snazzy legal jargon that will cause me to have to secretly Google while we talk? I must admit that when I picked up the phone and dialed Scott March earlier this month to talk story, none of these anxieties were running through my head. In fact, I felt at ease. That’s because Scott is just about the most unlawyerly lawyer there is…and I mean that in a good way. 


Licensed in Hawaii and California, Scott’s been practicing business law since 1984 — longer than I’ve been alive! (Sorry Scott.) His unofficial motto is “Pain free lawyering”. “I consider myself an entrepreneur first and lawyer second,” says March, who insists, despite his lawyerly smarts, to be “just a normal guy”. His approach is to put himself in his clients shoes (or slippahs) and to be transparent about costs and expected outcomes from the get-go. He’s also got a wonderful dry sense of humor and the ability to remain cool as a cucumber under pressure…and as it turns out there’s an interesting backstory to that!

Blue Collar Roots 

Scott’s first job was in a grinding wheel factory as a teenager in the midwest. He distinctly recalls working on the line and his boss telling him, “if you stay with us, you can make foreman in five years!” However, his boss was only holding up three fingers, not five. The other two had been lost in a factory accident. Scott took it as a sign that college might be a good idea, even though his parents didn’t support it. He came from a working-class family, and few of his high school classmates went on to college.

100 Feet Underground  

Scott earned his undergraduate degree in international relations at the University of Southern California, where he was a member of the ROTC. After graduation, he joined the Air Force and was sent to North Dakota from 1977 – 1981. It was the height of the Cold War, and he spent the next four years one hundred feet underground with his finger on the trigger of America’s nuclear warheads. He was only twenty-three years old! He recalls that their sole entertainment was a very small TV that got two local North Dakota channels. With all that time on his hands, he earned his MBA from the University of North Dakota as part of the United States Air Force Minuteman Education Program. Luckily for all of us, he didn’t end up having to launch any missiles. 

Becoming a Lawyer 

Scott came out of the Air Force as an officer and returned to California to go to law school. He attended the University of California Hastings School of Law in San Francisco. After four years underground in North Dakota, he was ready to return to civilization! He hadn’t had a date in four years. In law school, Scott met his wife, and they later had a daughter together. 

Upon graduating from law school and passing the bar in 1984, Scott began practicing law in California at the firm Fitzgerald, Abbott & Beardsley. In 1987, he started his own practice. Business law was a natural choice with his MBA background. In 2009, he relocated to the Big Island of Hawaii and opened his Hawaii law practice. 

Tips for Hawaii Businesses

When it comes to starting a business in Hawaii, Scott recommends beginning with a good business plan and a great lawyer. While he may be a bit biased, Scott recommends talking to a business lawyer who knows what it’s like to do business in Hawaii and not cutting corners trying to DIY. “Googling and trying to find legal answers for your start-up can result in a major headache,” says Scott. One mistake can create costly problems down the road. 

Another area that is often overlooked by businesses in Hawaii and small businesses, in general, is the issue of trademarks. “Many people think of trademarks as an extravagant technicality, something for big corporations,” says Scott, “however that’s not the case.” A trademark protects the name of your business or your identity so that other businesses can’t use the same name. A trademark is not the same thing as a patent. Trademarks are not as expensive or as complicated to obtain as one might think, says Scott. 

Picture of Scott March - Business Lawyer

His Suites Story 

Scott has been a client at Suite Possibilities since the beginning. He uses Suite’s professional mailbox services and as a physical address for his business. Scott says that the best part of being a Suite’s client is the networking benefits and the steady stream of referrals he gets for his business. Suite’s clients are able to display their business cards on site and the Suites team is always quick to connect him with people who need his legal services. “All my business comes through referral,” says Scott. “I don’t have to spend time and money on marketing.”

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About the Author 

Emily Gleason is a writer and web designer based in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Learn more and connect with her at: https://mthewriter.com/

Tree Talk

Tree Talk

An Interview with Arborist Becky Holt, of Mother Earth Tree Service

Mother Earth Tree Service

In 1979, a Kona coffee farmer put a potted houseplant outside. It was a baby Banyan tree. Over fourty years later, the tree measured eighteen feet in diameter on one side and its canopy covered over a quarter acre of the farm. After months of working to cut back the tree, Becky Holt and her team still hadn’t found the original pot! This is not an uncommon story. In our island climate where everything grows like crazy, how do you know the good trees from the mischievous, or worse? And most importantly, how do you keep them healthy and looking beautiful for generations to come? I sat down with Becky, Managing Arborist of Mother Earth Tree Service, to talk trees.

First Trees 

Before there were people living in the Hawaiian Islands, there were trees. Palm trees…but not the kind you’re probably thinking of. I’m talking about fan palms called Pritchardia. If you shut your eyes, you can almost hear the music of their leaves swaying in the sea breeze. It was the sea that brought them here, their seeds carried on currents through the south Pacific. They weren’t the only ones. “Many native and culturally significant trees like the Hala, or the Hau, or Milo have seeds that float,” says Becky. 

Coconut Palm

Hawaiʻiʻs most iconic tree isn’t actually native to the islands. The Coconut Palm was brought here by Polynesians. Today, coconut palms are the most common palm in the islands. But they can be a headache for business owners and property owners, especially those who are unfamiliar with the tree. 

What other tree grows something that is both a weapon and delicious sustenance? “Coconut palms grow these cannon balls that can kill you,” says Becky, “it’s important to have them regularly trimmed.” Unlike other trees, you can’t control the height of the palms with pruning. Palms are actually much more like grass than like a tree in the way they grow, says Becky. 

African Tulip 

This tree’s big showy orange flowers often trick those who don’t know. This is not a tree you want to plant or want on your property, says Becky. The tree is as thirsty as a pack of camels. It’s biologically programmed to soak up as much water as it can, kind of like a cactus in the desert. The problem is, that there is always water available in Hawai’i, and it doesn’t know when to stop. The unlimited access to water causes it to grow at science fiction-worthy rates of a foot a month. This kind of fantastic growth means the tree is not structurally sound and is prone to breaking, especially in storms. The African Tulip is considered an invasive species in Hawaii. It has easily spreadable seeds and shade tolerant seedlings, which can grow virtually anywhere, outcompeting less aggressive species. 

Fruit Trees 

Mother Earth Tree Service gets many questions from clients about fruit trees. One common mistake is irrigating trees with drip lines. “Drip lines are great for gardens but terrible for trees,” says Becky. A tree responds to where a resource is available. If you have any kind of tree and you put it on a drip line, it’s only being watered in the top five inches of soil. This teaches the tree to develop shallow roots. What you end up with is an unstable tree that can be easily damaged or blown over in a storm. 

Another common issue their team runs into with fruit trees is that there is often a conflict between a property owner’s desire for fruit production versus how they want the tree to look aesthetically. Optimum fruit production means more pruning, which doesnʻt always look pretty. Sun is also an important consideration with fruit trees. Citrus especially needs as much sun as they can get. Becky recommends planting them on the south side of your property to optimize sunlight hours.


I couldn’t resist asking Becky what her favorite tree is, and she doesn’t miss a beat. “Monkeypod,” she says, adding that “everything about them is grand.” While Monkeypods aren’t native to Hawaiʻi, you might say they are like a hanai child, unofficially adopted by the islands. The tree has a beautiful natural canopy that offers shade from the hot sun. Also known as the rain tree, Monkeypodʻs leaves fold up in the rain and at night. The tree responds well to pruning, which makes arborists like Becky happy. 

Tree Talk

Their Suites Story 

Support from the Suite Possibilities team allows Becky and her crew to spend more time doing what they love — meeting with trees and their people out in the field. “Our clients love that their call always gets answered by Amanda,” says Becky. They use Suite’s virtual receptionist service, office rental, professional mailbox, and bill pay services. 

More About Mother Earth Tree Service 

Founded in 2002 by Toby Johnson, Mother Earth Tree Service offers commercial and residential tree trimming on Hawaii Island, focusing on Kona to Waikoloa. They also offer consulting on what kinds of trees to plant, tree care, and property evaluation reports where they will catalog different trees. This is a common service for people who move to the island and buy property but often have no idea what’s growing on their land and how to care for it.

Educating their clients and the community about tree care, invasive species, and the significance of native and endemic species is a key part of their work. “We aim to expand the knowledge base of the island when it comes to trees, especially about our native trees, so that they don’t get removed,” says Becky. Her biggest piece of advice for people is don’t DIY. One bad cut on a tree can kill the whole tree. It’s always best to consult with an arborist first, even if you want to do the job yourself. 

Have a tree question? Get in touch with Becky and the Mother Earth Tree Service team, or call 808-327-6633.

About Suite Possibilities 

Founded in 2015, Suite Possibilities is a resource center and meeting place for Hawaii small business owners. With services like conference room rental, office rental, professional mailbox rental, virtual receptionist, bookkeeping, and more, Suite Possibilities supports small business owners in Hawai`i to scale up and succeed. 

Picture of Emily Gleason - Content Writer
About the Author  Emily Gleason is a writer and web designer based in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Learn more and connect with her at: https://mthewriter.com/
An Interview with Jason Watford

Leap of Faith: An Interview with Entrepreneur Jason Watford

An Interview with Jason Watford

Jason Watford started his cleaning company in 2014 with a mop, a bucket, and 5,000 dollars. Eight years later, he’s built a commercial cleaning empire that serves over sixty different clients and employs dozens of employees and subcontractors across the Big Island of Hawai`i. He is also one of Suite Possibilities’ oldest clients. I sat down with Jason to learn more about his business and talk tips for island entrepreneurs. 


Jason grew up working for his dad’s Service Master franchise in Panama City, Florida. His dad was a serial entrepreneur who owned many different businesses over the years. “I was his guinea pig,” says Jason. While he wasn’t always excited about the work as a teenager, he learned how a cleaning business operated and what it took to work for yourself — something that would give him the guts to start his own company from scratch years later. 

Building a Business 

Jason’s business, JW Cleaning Systems, LLC, began in 2014 with him driving around Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i in a used van, knocking on doors. He started out doing residential cleaning. Whatever jobs he could find, he took. He cleaned vacation rentals, private homes, windows, floors, you name it. He even delivered groceries a few times. His hard work was worth it. By 2015, he was bringing in 10,000 dollars a month from his residential cleaning accounts. 

But then, he met a man who told him to give all his accounts away! Jason met Keola Boak, who had a successful commercial cleaning company, in a local chapter of the business networking group, Business Network International. “I was thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me,” says Jason. But he took Boak’s advice. He got rid of all his residential accounts but one and started going after commercial clients with a specific focus: financial institutions and commercial properties. 

After a few nerve wracking months, the leap of faith paid off. He landed a contract with all the rental car facilities on the island. Then, a few months later, he landed a really big fish: Bank of Hawai`i. Jason remembers flying over to O`ahu for a meeting at the corporate headquarters. They asked how many employees he had and he said twenty-five. In reality, he only had two guys on staff. As soon as he got back to Kona, he started hiring people like crazy. Simply put: say YES and seize the opportunity. The details can be worked out later.  

His Suites Story 

In 2017, Jason’s business grew by 400%. He credits Suite Possibilities for enabling him to scale. “Suites is an integral part of my business,” says Jason. “Without them, I wouldn’t be able to operate at the capacity that I do. They’ve got the entire administrative side of my business streamlined.” Jason uses the full portfolio of Suite Possibilities services, including bookkeeping, mailbox services, virtual receptionist, and more.

Jason is a father of two young boys – Declan and Phoenix – with his wife Sarah. One of the greatest benefits of scaling his business and delegating administrative tasks is more time for his family. It also means more time for his passions like hunting and golfing. “For me, entrepreneurship is about the pursuit of personal freedom,” says Jason. There is less stability than a 9-5 job, but you get to build the life you want. 

Advice for Entrepreneurs 

As someone who has gone from humble beginnings to extreme success in the span of just eight years, I asked Jason if he has any words of wisdom for entrepreneurs just starting out. He shared three key tips: 

#1: Get started. 

Just take action. Get a mop and a bucket and start knocking on doors. Don’t worry about the details. Just move your feet and the rest will follow. 

#2: Sales cures all. 

“I see so many people get hung up on their expenses, their profit and loss, their marketing, etc.,” says Jason. “In the beginning, just focus on sales. As long as you’re selling and closing, you’re going to be just fine.” Jason likes to live by the acronym ABC – “always be closing”.  

While Jason may be a natural salesperson, the art of sales can be learned for those less inclined. He suggests to stop thinking of sales as sleazy. Everything in life is a sell, whether you’re going out on a first date and trying to get the girl or guy to like you, negotiating with a client, or bargaining at the flea market, he says. There are many resources out there for learning how to sell. He recommends a classic: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People as a must read for entrepreneurs. 

#3: Find a mentor. 

“I’m not the smartest guy in the room,” says Jason. “I am where I am because I am surrounded by smart, dependable people.” They include his long term mentor and friend Keola Boak, his employees, the Suite Possibilities team, and a network of professionals and business owners who he regularly bounces ideas off of. Asking for help – it’s probably the most important thing an entrepreneur can do. 

Work With JW Cleaning Systems

Jason’s company JW Cleaning Systems, LLC is always on the look out for solid people to join their team. Full time and part time positions are available. Full time benefits include competitive pay, medical, 401 K, annual bonuses, employee parties, incentivized work, and flexible schedule. Interested candidates should call 808-446-5630 and arrange to fill out an application. Visit them online at JW Cleaning Systems LLC.

About Suite Possibilities 

Founded in 2015, Suite Possibilities is a resource center and meeting place for Hawai`i small business owners. With services like conference room rental, office rental, professional mailbox rental, virtual receptionist, bookkeeping, and more, Suite Possibilities supports small business owners in Hawai`i to scale up and succeed. 

Picture of Emily Gleason - Content Writer
About the Author  Emily Gleason is a writer and web designer based in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Learn more and connect with her at: https://mthewriter.com/