Jon de Mello

Mountain Apple Company

Starting a business in the 21st century is difficult. But if you’re passionate about something, you need to have total focus on that specific industry or art form and commit to it.
Meet Jon de Mello

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About the Entrepreneur

Jon de Mello and his company Mountain Apple Company are involved in almost every facet of the music and entertainment industry, including publishing, producing, recording, distributing, and staging performances for scores of Island musicians and entertainers. As a record company, Mountain Apple Company produces and markets the best-selling recorded music in the history of Hawaii. Its music publishing division contains the most extensive Hawaiian and Polynesian music library in the world. Over the years, Jon has helped produce material for some of Hawaii's most prolific music artists, including the Brothers Cazimero, Lehua Kalima, Raiatea Helm, Taimane, and Israel 'IZ' Kamakawiwo'ole.

Ask the Entrepreneur

More with Jon

What core value has stuck with you throughout your career?

I believe a world without art would be nothing, it would not last. In my world the artist is first and I'm okay with that because I’m an artist, too. Artists are the source of our material so my focus is to make the artist happy, and make the artist work.

What is your advice for anyone running a family business?

The dynamics between family members, especially in a third-generation business like mine, are very important. It gets interesting when you cross the line and focus on the big picture instead of focusing on the fact that 'he’s my father' or 'she’s my daughter.' With my daughter, we know each other; we grew up together so to speak. She knows things about me and I know things about her. We're tuned into each other, and it works extremely well.

What do you do to stay relevant in a changing industry?

It’s a digital world. You have to keep your eye on the ball, anticipate what’s going on, and be able to deal with different media. The world is changing, and it can be difficult to keep up at times.

What advice would you give to someone starting a new business in any industry?

Starting a business in the 21st century is difficult. But if you’re passionate about something, you need to have total focus on that specific industry or art form and commit to it.

What are the most important qualities to look for as a business owner when choosing a bank?

A bank is obviously made for deposits, withdrawals and to hold reserves and things like that. But, in a bank I am looking for a relationship. I’m looking for someone I can relate to.

What do you love about banking at Hawaii National Bank?

Hawaii National Bank is a relationship for me. It’s actually a third-generation relationship, and that gives me a lot of strength. It’s not just about depositing or withdrawing or paying bills. It's about trust and having a strong relationship.

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