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How is Brad Nicolai Building on His Family's Tradition of Giving?

Lauren Finney Harden | November 28, 2020 | People

You’d expect for someone at the helm of Hawai‘i’s leading automotive and motorcycle group to give back to his community, but Brad Nicolai, president of JN Group (wearejngroup.com), has taken it one step further. His father came to Hawai‘i in the late ’50s, and since then the company has grown to encompass a collection of 26 prestigious, world-class brands—more than any other in Hawai‘i, including Ferrari and Porsche. But giving back is where it counts the most: “We’ve really worked on keeping with our tradition of taking care of people and those in our community,” he says. “This approach has been woven into the fabric of our company.”

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While his father’s migration to Hawai‘i and subsequent founding of the group in 1961 was a product of the Army, Nicolai is Hawai‘i-born and -bred, and his mother’s family has been here for generations. “Our family has grown culturally and ethnically like many families here in Hawai‘i. But it’s more than having a connection to our local families and culture; it’s about having a sense of appreciation and connection to the a‘ina and the people which make Hawai‘i unique and special… and it’s how we conduct ourselves as an organization in the community.”

Much work is done through his family’s Castiglione A Casauria Foundation. (His paternal grandparents were Italian immigrants who came from a small town in the Abruzzo region called Castiglione a Casauria, for which the foundation is named.) The region is “known as the greenest region in Europe,” says Nicolai, and “although it’s halfway around the world from Hawai‘i, there are many parallels and connections to what we believe culturally here. Our annual giving is focused on education, environment, health and culture in Hawai‘i.” (Additional work is done through JN Group and Cycle City.)

His focus right now is on the Kapiolani Health Foundation (hawaiipacifichealth.org). “When you look at our communities, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children has such a deep reach in elevating the quality of life for so many people. The question you get after ‘Eh, where you went school?’ is ‘Where were you born?’ That’s how deeply rooted Kapiolani is in our life.” The dealerships have focused on everything from the Blood & Cancer Center to the Pediatric Heart Center. “It’s an opportunity to give hope and life to families in critical times of need,” says Nicolai, a father himself. “I’m driven to inspire my kids and their generation now rather than later—the earlier we can get our children involved, the better we are cultivating the future of Hawai‘i.”

Last year Nicolai was one of 50 nominees out of 17,000 dealers for the TIME and Ally Financial Automotive Dealer of the Year award, which highlights dealers who go above and beyond for their communities. “It was a testament to our team and their cumulative effort in support of the many community nonprofits and events hosted every year,” he says. “It’s more than just dollars given; it’s about the participation, in-kind support and passion of our teammates every time we help someone in our community.” The team has done everything from hosting blood drives to car washes to motorcycle club charity rides, plus ongoing military support programs. “It’s our people who are intricately part of making this happen year in and year out.”



Photography by: by Fixed Flight