First Hawaiian Bank
In terms of revenues, First Hawaiian Bank ($484 million) is number
two behind leader Bank of Hawaii ($715 million). However, First
Hawaiian can toot its horn to being the state's oldest bank AND
having the tallest building in Hawaii. First Hawaiian Bank is
a subsidiary of BancWest, which is in turn a subsidiary of BNP
Paribas, one of France's biggest banks. BNP Paribas is a result
of a merger between two French banks (BNP and Paribas) and I
visited both in Paris before their merger.
Situated near the waterfront in Honolulu's downtown business
center the 30-story (438 feet tall) triangular structure is a
real beauty. Built in 1996, the 418,000 square foot building
looks much newer. There's no corporate logo or company name emblazoned
on the top or sides of this structure or for that matter any
other structure in Hawaii because such displays are illegal.
Called First Hawaiian Center, the lobby directory lists a wide
variety of tenants including the usual suspects---law firms and
accounting concerns. Reception for the bank lies on the 29th
floor so it's up I go on one of the four high-speed exterior
elevators (click for photo).
Holy cow, the ride up is amazing as one enjoys an incredible
view of Honolulu's harbor and the Pacific Ocean.
Receptionist Cheryl Simon's desk sits next to a big picture window
and gets to enjoy (everyday!) the view I saw on the way up. I
explain mailing a letter of introduction along with news clippings
four weeks earlier to CEO Donald Horner and ask Simon if she
can call up Horner's secretary to find out who ended up with
the material. While Simon makes the phone call I note the orchid
(real) and give the two seven-foot tall antique Chinese chests
lining a wall the once over.
Hanging up the phone, receptionist Simon says to take a seat
as someone will be out shortly. Before sitting I ask Simon how
this 30-story building can brag to being the tallest in Hawaii
when I'm staying at a 35-story hotel in nearby Waikiki. Simon
explains that the height of each floor here is taller. A few
minutes pass and I'm in luck as the person stepping out to answer
questions turns out to be CEO Horner. I put on my fast-talking
speed though as Horner says he's between meetings and has only
About 850 employees work in the building. Vice presidents on
up as well as bicycling commuters enjoy reserved underground
parking, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace and there's no
formal dress code. Matter of fact, Horner's not sporting the
usual suit and tie worn by bankers-it's the Aloha shirt (floral
design) with slacks-better suited for this tropical climate.
There's a company cafeteria and I ask Horner, "how's the
food?" Executives eat lunch at the Banker's Club, a private
restaurant for building tenants located on the top floor (30th).
So, Horner looks over to receptionist Simon and asks "how's
the food?" Simon replies it's good. Honolulu airport lies
a short four miles away and it's a few minutes drive to reach
the nearest freeway.
CEO Horner occupies a large corner office on the 29th floor.
I count two plants (real), one orchid (real), a computer and
several family pictures. What's the view out the big picture
windows? A spectacular vista of the seeming endless Pacific Ocean
and Honolulu harbor. What's interesting though is what I don't
see from Horner's office. From his office Horner can't look down
on rival Bank of Hawaii's shorter building next door because
his office sits on the opposite side of the building.
Company website: www.fhb.com