Founder and Owner, Wet Okole Hawaii Inc.
Fact: He and his son are boating enthusiasts, and each built his own custom craft. Willms built a 47-foot catamaran, and his son built a 26-foot sport fisher.
His take on life and business: “You’ve got to have luck and timing on your side.”
An avid surfer, Phil Willms couldn’t take any more piles of sand and puddles of seawater in his truck, so he designed a neoprene seat cover. His idea launched a successful business, Wet Okole (pronounced “oh-ko-lay”) Hawaii Inc., which develops hundreds of designs that custom fit any automobile brand.
“The name ‘Okole’ is used in Hawaii for ‘butt.’ Your wet butt can ruin the seats in your car. That’s why you need our waterproof seat covers,” he says.
After Willms retired from Honda Motor Co., he sailed to Honolulu, where he launched his first store. Four years later, he opened another store in Costa Mesa. He and his family run the business, which is expected to hit $6.5 million in sales this year.
“We were the very first company to create seat heaters,” Willms says. “You just plug it into your cigarette lighter. And we were the first company to have the Hawaiian flower seat covers.”
– Ashley Eliot
OC METRO's 2009 Hot 25 honorees:
Toby Bost | Mike Gillespie | Anil Puri | Sean Collins
Kevin Boylan & T.K. Pillan | Dr. Jason Knight | Hugh Hewitt
Luke Allen | Tina Aldatz | Sukhee Kang | Glenn Gray
Amelia & Florent Marneau | Tim McFerran | Tallia Hart
Bill Sanderson | Henrik Fisker | Janet Hamada | Wayne Gross
Julie Miller-Phipps | Michael Ruane | Carl St.Clair
Pretend City | Phil Willms | Sheryl Bourgeois | Steve Nichols
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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of OC METRO's Hot 25 awards, here are our original Hot 25 honorees, who were featured in 1990.
Doug Rankin | Erich Vollmer | Dennis Aigner | Greg Patton
Janice Mittermeier | Carol Stogsdill | Carl St.Clair
Anton Segerstrom | Christopher Cox | Christine (Reed) Iger
Dr. Robert Bade | Thomas Mays | Mike Goode
Richard Gadbois | Rudy Castruita | Debbie Miede
Ernest C. Brown | Mossimo Giannulli | Daniel L. Rasmussen
Cynthia Ellner | Kathryn Braun Lewis | David Wilhelm
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first Hot 25 honorees