‘Regular guy’ is SCC Business Person of the Year

Posted on Jan 23 2023

Triple J Five Star Wholesale and Triple J Truckload Store general manager Jay Santos delivers his acceptance speech after winning the 2022 Business Person of the Year award during the Saipan Chamber of Commerce 2022 “Bowties & Diamonds” Business Person of the Year annual fundraiser gala last Saturday night at Crowne Plaza Saipan’s Hibiscus Hall. (MARK RABAGO)

Self-confessed “regular guy” Jay Santos was named the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year for 2022.

The Triple J Five Star Wholesale and Triple J Truckload Store general manager was bestowed the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor during its 2022 “Bowties & Diamonds” Business Person of the Year annual fundraiser gala last Saturday night at Crowne Plaza Saipan’s Hibiscus Hall.

“Surprising that I’m not this nervous or worried for a long time about nothing at all because I’m just a regular guy. It’s certainly an honor and a privilege to be up here [with] all my peers. …To all the past awardees, un dangkulu na si yu’us ma’ase. I’m humbled, I’m extremely humbled,” he said.

A diehard Los Angeles Dodgers fan and president of the Saipan Baseball League, Santos confessed that winning the 2022 Business Person of the Year was the farthest thing from his mind.

“The last time I accepted a nomination was in 2010. I’ve received a few before then and declined them, because I really don’t feel like I’m deserving of this. I’m just a regular guy.” However, in 2010 Santos decided to accept the nomination again.

“That was the last time I accepted a nomination. Because nominees aren’t privy to who else is nominated for Business Person of the Year and, surely enough, when the announcement came out, much to my dismay, my boss, Mr. Bob Jones, was on that list and thank God he won that year.”

The other nominees this year were Joseph Guerrero of Naked Fish Bar & Grill, Dr. Nelson Krum of Paradise Dental Spa, Emma Perez of 500 Sails, and Nicole Babauta of Docomo Pacific. Guerrero is also the president of the Chamber.

Santos thanked his wife, Joyce, and their four children. One of their sons incidentally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business last year from Boise State University and Santos thinks “he’s never been more proud of his dad than right now.”

Before yielding the mic, Santos also took the opportunity to honor his parents.

“I was very lucky to have fabulous parents. They showed me how it’s supposed to be done. They weren’t doting parents…but they were very hardworking parents. They showed you what working hard meant and that’s showing up for work and giving your 100%. It taught me respect, humility, and being responsible for your actions. And most importantly, don’t bring shame to the family, which hopefully I’ve done a good job of doing.

One particular memory of his parents that continues to resonate with Santos was when he graduated frm high school.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t have the grades to bring me to an esteemed college and stuff like that, but on my graduation day my dad looked at me and said, ‘Son, I don’t care if you become a ditch digger just make sure you become the best ditch digger in the ditch.’”

Santos attended Santa Monica College in California. During that same time, he worked for Guam Cargo Consolidators in Los Angeles, where he was eventually promoted to station manager. He then worked for Eagle Freight Services, also in Los Angeles.

Santos moved to Saipan in 1994 and worked for Marianas Napa as general manager. In 1997, he joined Pacific Islands Club as purchasing manager. He was appointed to be the director of Northern Marianas Customs Service in 2003, where he was responsible for customs services of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, under the Babauta/Benavente administration.

Santos then joined Triple J Saipan, Inc. in May 2006 as general manager for Hertz Rent a Car on Saipan, Tinian, and throughout Micronesia. He was also named general sales manager of Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods in September 2007, and then was named director of Human Resources for Triple J Enterprises in 2009.

Santos is married to Joyce Duenas Santos and they have four children: Aysia, Myles, Dylan and Aya. He is also a former director for the Chamber and a former member of the Rotary Club of Saipan. Santos currently serves on the board of directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Guam & CNMI. He also coached youth football on Saipan for 10 years and competed in outrigger canoe paddling.

Winners of the 2022 Non-Profit of the Year, 2022 Start-Up of the Year, 2022 Small Business, and 2022 Chamber Member of the Year will be published in the next issues of Saipan Tribune.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com
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