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SAIPANPRENEURS OF THE WEEK:Timothy & Adelia San Nicolas

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

Last week’s Flame Tree Arts Festival was home to artists, sculptors, jewelry makers, chefs and passionpreneurs of all stripes turning their individual passions into profit. As I made my way around the park, one product in particular caught my eye: the sort of product with tremendous potential for stimulating economic growth. After meeting the product’s creator, I came to realize that he too embodied the sort of mindset and mission upon which such economic success is based. So this week I’d like to introduce you to visionary Saipanpreneur Timothy San Nicolas and his wife, Adelia.

Tim is from Rota. His company—“I Know Rota”—bottles and markets Daok oil (Calophyllum inophyllum), a healing oil extracted from the nut of a tree native to Micronesia.

Daok oil, known as Tamanu (Polynesian) or St. Mary’s oil (U.S.), possesses the unique capacity to promote the formation of new tissue, accelerating wound healing and the growth of healthy skin. It can be applied to heal cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and stings, abrasions, wounds and scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema and even herpes sores. It’s also been used to reduce foot and body odor, and massaged into the skin, can relieve neuralgia, rheumatism and sciatica. Polynesian women have used it for promoting healthy, clear, blemish-free skin, and on babies to prevent diaper rash and skin eruptions.

Timothy first got the idea to market Daok oil back in 2002 while working at the Department of Commerce: “It was Bill Hocog, the former director, who recognized the oil’s potential. He introduced me to Edgar Cocker, who was with food science and marketing at NMC Rota. Daok was officially being investigated by the department for its marketing potential. However, due to unforeseen developments, the project was shelved.”

“But I took a personal interest in it,” Tim continues, “and I did my own research on the Internet and in encyclopedias and conducted experiments in my garage. Several months later I made my first sale. Since then, my wife, who was at first a bit skeptical, has become my best partner!”

Timothy harvests the nuts himself on his farm on Rota. He explains that it can take up to three months for a batch of nuts, once picked, to be ready for sale. His greatest challenge is maintaining purity.

“During the processing stage, Daok oil can often get contaminated by mold, or darkened by the lubricant in the cold press machine itself. This produces a green or yellow-green color. However, I Know Rota’s Daok oil is a pure yellow—a sign that it’s untainted.”

I asked Timothy about the economics of growing Daok trees for profit. He explained that, depending on its variety, a tree, harvested twice per year, could yield from 100 to 200 lbs of raw nuts per year. That 200lb of raw nuts yields 100 lb of dried nut, which produces about 48 oz of oil. At $25 - $30 per oz, therefore, a tree could yield approximately $1,440 a year. Multiply that by the number of trees (spaced every 20ft), and you can calculate the potential of a plot of land. Timothy adds, however, that his primary motivation was to make a point not just a profit.

“My mission is to encourage others to see and to seize the opportunity in products like this—products that we can develop right here at home.”

He envisions the day when local farmers may devote portions of their land to growing the Daok tree to meet world demand. “During my research I came across a company which already had 800 suppliers and was seeking more farmers to help them reach their target goal of 1.5 metric tons of oil per year to meet current demand. And that’s just one company!” he adds.

Because of food, diet and lifestyle choices, people are faced with health challenges. But while many seek health from laboratory-made pills with a multitude of side effects, many others, like Timothy, prefer nature’s clinic. Such visionaries are on the leading edge of a revolution of thought and global interest in alternative self-care. And regions like ours may provide the ideal setting for developing them.

According to The Ageless Adept: Perfect Health, Long Life and the Fountain of Youth: “…we are products of nature. It stands to reason, therefore, that if we are out of balance, that only nature can restore that balance “But now, as a result of man’s influence on the planet…everything from the earth’s magnetic field, oxygen level, air purity, soil composition, to the planet’s water have all been shifted into a state of imbalance that further suppress nature’s codes. As a result, there are certain levels of purity and balance that the earth is no longer able to create or sustain…”

Our region, however, relatively untainted by such “progress,” is home to plants of a level of purity the world now seeks at a growing rate. Our challenge, as the world’s supplier is: How do we heal the world physically, heal ourselves financially, and not succumb to the same imbalance from which we seek to save others, destroying, depleting or damaging the very thing for which we are sought? The answer is that even as we present and export our value to the outside, we must preserve the reverence for that value within our borders—never losing sight of nor touch with the essence of our cultural heritage.

Talking with Timothy, one gets the feeling he holds PhDs in chemistry, health and manufacturing. He replies: “No formal training. Everything I know is just based on my passion to know more. When it comes to food and nutrition, I’ve always been an information seeker. I always read the nutritional details of the food I eat. I want to know what are those chemicals I’m putting into my body. So I took the initiative to find out.”

“And I’m not a doctor, either” he adds. “These oils have been used for centuries in Micronesia with good results. People don’t need someone from the outside to tell them what’s been working in our culture for generations. Trust what we know. We have rich proven, natural resources, right here at home. All we need is the passion to develop them.”

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NEWSFLASH: On Saturday, May 6, from 10am to 1pm, I’ll be conducting a special workshop for aspiring and/or established saipanpreneurs who wish to break free and launch their ventures online. It will be held at the NMC campus. Seating is severely limited for this event. Call the North Marianas College Small Business Development Center at 235-1551 to pre-register.

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Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!—Walt

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