Gary and Jeri Barnes moved to Hawaii in 1987 with their three sons: Justin Jonathan and Jordan. Gary’s naval career stationed him around the world with the last overseas posting to be in the Soviet Union. The move from the American Embassy Moscow Russia was about as far as you could get from Hawaii in the late 80’s, arriving at the peak of Jams and the golden Era of Hawaii fashion. While Gary continued his career in the Navy, the couple began making beautiful Aloha print handheld umbrellas on the side. Exposure from craft fairs like the Pacific Handcrafter’s guild led to collaborations with fashion prints with Momo Hao, fiberglass frames for HECO and ultimately their first job for larger wooden umbrellas with the Hyatt Regency. The couple’s attitude and can do spirit led them to incorporate in 1989 as Tropical J’s, Inc.
Jeri is one of 8 children from Kansas City, Kansas that all have names beginning with the letter J. Jeri and Gary also keep the J naming tradition alive in their family. So when her older sister Joy found out that they couldn’t figure out what to name their business, she took to her printing company and promptly made envelope, business cards, stationary and much much more, all to “Tropical J’s”, Inc.
The company’s can-do positive attitude has been the foundation of a problem solving business model focusing on custom manufacturing with quality as their signature. Today the company boasts 28 employees, 2 of their 3 sons, and has grown to more than umbrellas. Tropical J’s employs full time salesmen, designers, sewers, welders, painters, installers, woodworkers and combines these competencies in creative ways to come up with custom solutions, many of which have won international achievement awards in their industry. The company continues today with Jeri as President and Gary as CEO .