Aloha Airgroup, Inc.



About halfway between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach stands an office complex of a half-dozen five-story, hexagon-shaped buildings. Situated across the street from the waterfront, the complex looks to have been built in the 1980's and is aptly named Waterfront Plaza. A multiplex movie theatre, a variety of restaurants and a few retail shops occupy the ground floors of the buildings.

Heading up to the fifth floor of one of the buildings (Building Two) brings me to the reception counter of privately-held Aloha Airgroup, the parent company of Aloha Airlines. Currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the airline had revenues in 2004 of approximately $450 million. Hmm, there's no one manning the desk and a note says to use the phone to call for assistance. On the counter are applications for an Aloha AirAwards card and similar-size brochures giving a brief history of the airline. However, what gets my attention is the brightly colored regulation-size bowling ball taking up a prime spot on the counter. On the bowling ball it reads "Kilohana's favorite bowler" and scribbled across the ball are a variety of signatures.

In a few minutes I'm meeting with Stu Glauberman, Director Corporate Communications. I appreciate Glauberman's flexibility in meeting with me especially since he hadn't seen the letter of introduction and news clippings mailed a month earlier to CEO David Banmiller.

Aloha Airgroup has been in this building for seven years. About 150 people work here with the company occupying the 5th floor as well as parts of the second and third floors. There's no company cafeteria though there is a break room, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace, employees enjoy free parking and there's no corporate art collection-though they do have a collection of vintage airline posters and photos of old planes (the airline was founded in 1946). It's four miles to Honolulu airport, a mile to the nearest freeway and there's no formal dress code. Any usual employee perks? Free flights on Aloha Airlines and reduced rates on other carriers.

We take a walk past CEO Banmiller's office but I don't get to go in as there's a meeting going on. The boardroom in functional and no-frills with a round table seating eight and only one model airplane to be seen. *Note I've visited 15 airlines around the world and normally find the CEO's office and boardroom crawling with model airplanes and of course all sporting the airline's logo.

Oh, and about that bowling ball front and center on the reception counter. It seems the company has an office bowling tournament every year and the worst bowler gets to sign the ball and suffer the indignity of having it put on display for the whole year.

Company website: www.alohaairlines.com

Note* Aloha exited bankruptcy in February 2006