Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.

With $1.9 billion in revenues, Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) ranks as Hawaii's biggest company. Headquarters is a four-story building in downtown Honolulu, right across the street from the city's main post office. Built in 1927, the Spanish-style structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Entering the front entrance brings you to a utility bill payment office. HEI is a holding company with its main holding being Hawaiian Electric Company, the public electricity provider for most of the Hawaiian Islands. A security guard in the payment office directs me to a side entrance for the corporate offices where I check in with another security guard manning a desk. I explain mailing a letter of introduction with some news clippings a month ago to CEO Robert Clarke and ask the guard if I can talk to Clarke's secretary to find out who ended up with the letter. I'm connected to Julie Smith, Clarke's secretary, who says she vaguely remembers the letter. She says she'll look into it and I say I'll check back.

Returning the next day I talk to Ms. White via the phone and am told she hasn't heard anything. I return the following day and get the same response from White. Returning the fourth day I'm told the same thing. This time after hanging up with White I ask the security guard if he could call up someone in Corporate Communications. I'm connected to a woman and ask if someone in the department is familiar with my letter. No luck as the woman says everyone in the department is in a meeting.

I return for the fifth day and, am again told by Ms. White that she has heard nothing back. Somewhat frustrated, I ask White who she's waiting to hear back from and suggest maybe I should try and contact that person myself. Alan Yamamoto, Director of Community Relations, is the name I'm given and he's located a block away in another building. Before getting off the phone I tell Ms. White that when I meet with someone I have two unusual requests: seeing the boardroom and the CEO's office. White says it won't be possible.

The nearby office building I'm sent to looks to be the head office for American Savings Bank, another subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Though now is the first he's heard of what I do, nice guy Yamamoto agrees to answer questions.

About 150 people work in the 4-story head office. There's no company cafeteria, senior management gets reserved parking spots, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace, there's no corporate art collection and, no formal dress code. It's a quarter mile to the nearest freeway, a 10 minute drive to the airport and there's no corporate aircraft. Any unusual employee perks? Special rates on electricity and some bank services.

I ask Yamamoto if it's possible to see the boardroom and CEO Clarke's top floor corner office. I mention having brought it up with CEO Clark's secretary and was told it wasn't possible. Yamamoto makes a call over to the other building and gets the same answer I received.

Company website: www.hei.com