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