Maki Named Auburn Business of the Year

Monday, April 07, 2003

Maki named Auburn Business of the year

By Gloria Young
Journal Staff Writer

Maki Named Auburn Business of the Year

Maki Named Auburn Business of the Year

“Auburn is my home town, but I was born somewhere else,” is something Cheryl Maki says when she meets new people.

It is that strong connection to the community that is being recognized with the naming of Cheryl and Randy Maki, owners of Maki Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., as the Auburn Business of the Year. The award will be presented at the State of the Community Dinner Friday.

Cheryl Maki hails originally from Missouri. After graduation from California Coast University, she lived for awhile in Southern California, subsequently relocating to the Bay Area. And it was during the period that she decided to move to Auburn.

“As a divorced mother of a 5 year old, I wanted to get him out of the city to have a better quality of life,” she said.

She met her husband, Randy Maki, who had just gotten out of the Navy, through a mutual friend at the post office in Colfax.

“He always tells everybody he came special delivery,” Cheryl Maki said.

At that time Cheryl Maki owned two hair salons and Randy was a journeyman sheet metal worker who subsequently – in the late 1970s – worked for a local heating and air conditioning company.

When they started the business in 1984, the only employee was Randy Maki. Cheryl Maki, who still had her beauty salons, would do the books at night. After a year, they added an employee and a truck. Now, the business employs 14 full-time year-round employees – and seasonal help can bring that total to 30 – six service vans, three install trucks and a large service department.

“The major thing we’ve always abided by and still do is that we decided we were going to serve the Auburn area. We wanted to remain local and know our customers,” Cheryl Maki said. “And we do know our customers. We see them in the grocery store, the post office and at church. We wanted to be here to see our kids play sports and when they graduated. I think (our customers) know we’re here for the long term because of our involvement in the community.”

And they also take a very personalized approach to business that makes them accessible to the public.

“They know when they call, they can talk to me or to Randy,” Cheryl Maki explained. “They know we’ll always call them back. We have customers that we’ve had since I was doing hair.”

Cheryl Maki is a familiar name on the Auburn scene because she is so actively involved in the community. Probably, she is most well known as a city councilwoman and mayor pro-tem. She was first elected to the council in 1994, serving four years including one term as mayor. She was reelected to the council again in 2000. Next year she is scheduled to serve as major again.

“When I first owned my own business I recognized how important politics and legislation were and how they affected business owners,” she explained. “I became pretty darn political after I bought my first business.”

Cheryl Maki credits her husband for much of the success of Maki Heating & Air.

“We are definitely a team,” she said. “Our customers love him. He’s a great guy and honest as the day is long. It’s a big part of why we are who we are.”

His formula for success is tried and true.

“Hard work, be honest and provide good service and then it all works out,” he said.

He serves of the board of the Contractors Association and is a member of the 49er Lions. He also does a lot of volunteer work.

“He spends a lot of time doing behind the scene things like sheet metal work for schools, clubs and the museum,” Cheryl Maki said.

One volunteer activity he found particularly worthwhile was his involvement last spring in a program in which Chana High School students are introduced to the trades. The program, the brainchild of Wayne White, city building official, offered the opportunity for contractors to spend an hour a week introducing their trade to the students.

“I enjoyed it very much,” Randy Maki said. “They are considering doing it again this year. It went over very well.”

As far as future plans for the company go, the couple say they’ll watch it grow as the community expands.

“We’re considering growing the base and we’ll continue providing good service for local customers,” Randy Maki said. “We try to stay as local as we can.”

About their business success, Cheryl Maki said, “If being saluted by your community means success, then we are a great success,” she said. “It’s a huge honor. It’s the greatest thing. I’ve won two elections and loved being mayor, but this is the icing on the cake.”

The Business of the Year Award is presented by an Auburn Chamber of Commerce committee. Forrest Eklund, the chamber’s president, says the decision is difficult.

“We have a whole bunch of recommendations from the board and the community,” he explained. “There is a pretty wide range. There are a lot of really outstanding businesses in this area. So, it’s a tough job.”

But when they weighed success and contribution, the Makis rose to the top of the heap.

In addition to serving on the Auburn City Council, Cheryl Maki is a member of the Auburn Economic Development Committee, Sierra Community College Management Advisory Committee, Local Agency Formation Commission and an elected member to the District 3 Republican Central Committee.

She belongs to Soroptimist International of Auburn, the American Association of University Women, Auburn Republican Women Federated, Placer County Contractors Association and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce.

The Makis have two sons, Steven who works for Maki Heating & Air; and Anthony who works at Sierra College.

Randy Maki is an avid skier and fisherman.

“My hobby is the city of Auburn,” Cheryl Maki said.

They will be honored at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Community dinner April 11 at Lanterns at the Ridge. Tickets to the dinner are $37.50 and are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, 601 Lincoln Way in Auburn.

The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at

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