2014 Hawaii Business Top 250: Hawaii’s biggest companies in 1984: Where are they today?

Here’s a look at the first 15 companies on the Hawaii Business Top 250 in 1984, the initial year we compiled the 250 list.

August, 2014

1984 rank: 1
Company: AMFAC

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $2.2 billion
Employees back then: 22,000

Principle businesses then: Wholesale distribution, sugar, food processing, hotels and resorts.
Where is it today: Gone. Sold in 1988 to Chicago-based JMB Realty and pieces were gradually sold. One part, the Liberty House department store chain, declared bankruptcy in 1998 and eventually became part of Macy’s.


1984 rank: 2
Company: Pacific Resources Inc.

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $1.554 billion
Employees back then: 818

Principle businesses then: Petroleum refining and marketing; oil and gas distribution.
Where is it today: Also gone. PRI, with assets nationwide, was acquired by Australia’s Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. in 1989, which then merged with Billiton PLC in 2001. PRI’s main remaining Hawaii units now have mainland owners: the Tesoro refinery was sold to
Par Petroleum last year, but the refinery remains closed, and Hawaii Gas Co. is owned by Citizens Utilities. Hawaii Gas ranks 29th on this year’s Top 250 with 308 employees and 2013 gross sales of $257.7 million.


1984 rank: 3
Company: Castle & Cooke

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $1.551 billion
Employees back then: 35,000

Principle businesses then: Food production, processing and marketing, including Dole Pineapple; real estate; manufacturing and service activities.
Where is it today: In 1985, C&C merged with Flexi-Van Corp. and, in 1991, was renamed Dole Food Co. In 1995, real estate operations of newly reformed Castle & Cooke (almost all of Lanai) were bought by David Murdock and sold in 2012 to Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp.


1984 rank: 4
Company: Hawaiian Electric Industries

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $622 million
Employees back then:1,656

Principle businesses then: Electric utility; electric services.
Where is it today: No. 1 on the Top 250 in 2014 for the fourth year in the past five, with 3,966 employees
and gross sales in 2013 of $323.8 billion.


1984 rank: 5
Company: Alexander & Baldwin

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $453 million
Employees back then: 3,600

Principle businesses then: Ocean transportation (Matson), sugar; property development and management, trucking, storage, investments.
Where is it today: Matson and A&B separated in 2012; Matson ranks fourth on this year’s list and A&B is 22nd.


1984 rank: 6
Company: Hawaiian Telephone

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $368 million
Employees back then: 4,527

Principle businesses then: Telecommunications services and equipment.
Where is it today: In 1984, HawTel was owned by mainland corporation GTE, which merged with Bell Atlantic in 2000 to create Verizon Communications. Verizon sold its Hawaii operation to the private equity company The Carlyle Group in 2004, but Hawaiian Tel struggled, entered bankruptcy and emerged in 2008 as Hawaiian Telcom. It ranks 21 on this year’s list, a much leaner operation than in 1984, currently with 1,400 employees and gross sales of $391 million.


1984 rank: 7
Company: Bancorp Hawaii

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $345 million
Employees back then: 2,694

Principle businesses then: Bank of Hawaii; life insurance, leasing, business systems; international.
Where is it today: Bank of Hawaii ranks 13th, on this year’s list, with 2,261 employees and gross sales of $584.7 million in 2013.


1984 rank: 8
Company: Hawaii Medical Services Association

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $275 million
Employees back then: 720

Principle businesses then: Medical, surgical and hospital insurance.
Where is it today: HMSA’s rise to second place on the Top 250 (it was actually No. 1 in 2010) reflects the overall growth of the healthcare sector in the U.S. and local economies. It now has 1,676 employees – more than double the total of 1984 – but gross sales have hit $2.894 billion, more than 10 times its sales in 1984.


1984 rank: 9
Company: First Hawaiian Inc.

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $266.9 million
Employees back then: 2,107

Principle businesses then: Bank holding company: First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii Thrift & Loan, Japan Hawaii Finance Kabushiki Kaisha, First Hawaiian Leasing.
Where is it today: More acquisitions through the 1990s; merged with Bank of the West in 1998; in 2001, was acquired by the French bank BNP Paribas. FHB is now in 11th place. In 1984, it was second to Bank of Hawaii but now has overtaken its longtime rival as the Islands’ largest bank.


1984 rank: 10
Company: C. Brewer

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $207.7 million
Employees back then: 5,000

Principle businesses then: Holding company for agribusiness; land development; resort operations; alternative energy; insurance.
Where is it today: Gone. Owned by International Utilities Corp. until 1986, when company’s Hawaii president led a $200 million buyout. That left the company in debt, which helped force the closing of sugar operations and sale of real estate. Headquarters moved to Hilo in 1998 and, in 2001, shareholders voted to liquidate. Company dissolved in 2006.


1984 rank: 11
Company: Foodland

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $205 million
Employees back then: 600

Principle businesses then: Foodland supermarkets with 23 stores and five Emjay’s stores back then.
Where is it today: Foodland remains the biggest locally owned and operated grocery retailer in Hawaii. Its main locally owned competitors in 1984 were Times SuperMarkets, now owned by a California company, PAQ Inc., and Star Markets, which was acquired by Times in 2009. Today, Foodland has 32 stores and more than 2,500 employees. It clearly belongs on the Top 250, but it does not submit information to Hawaii Business, so it is not currently listed.


1984 rank: 12
Company: Kyo-ya Co.

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $190 million
Employees back then: 4,500

Principle businesses then: Hotels holding company; parking lots; retail stores; Sheraton Waikiki; Royal Hawaiian; Surfrider; Moana, Princess Kaiulani; Sheraton Maui; Kyo-ya Restaurant.
Where is it today: 12th place. This year, private equity company Cerberus Capital agreed to sell its 55 percent stake in Kokusai Kogyo Co., the parent of Kyo-ya, to the company’s founding family in Japan. That was followed by a shakeup of key management personnel at Kyo-ya in Hawaii.


1984 rank: 13
Company: Servco Pacific

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $190 million
Employees back then: 1,330

Principle businesses then: Wholesaling; retailing; automotive and marine; financial, insurance and other services; Toyota distributor; Gibson’s department store; Easy Music Centers; Marine Distribution Center; Hawaiiana Advertising; office systems.
Where is it today: Servco remains privately held and locally owned, and has gradually risen to seventh place this year on the Top 250. It has shed some assets that it held in 1984, but acquired many others.


1984 rank: 14
Company: Theo H. Davies

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $176.9 million
Employees back then: 1,500

Principle businesses then: Property development; construction and farm machinery; steamship agents; insurance; marine agencies, car dealerships; assets included Hamakua Sugar and Pacific Machinery.
Where is it today: Gone. Theo H. Davies stayed in family hands until 1973, then was sold to Hong Kong-based conglomerate Jardine Matheson. The first of the Big Five to get out of sugar and diversify holdings to assets such as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchises, and Mercedes and Jaguar franchises. Starting in 2003, Jardine gradually sold all its Hawaii holdings. A company called Theo H. Davies & Co. operates today as an executive search firm in Singapore. It was founded by descendants of the same Theo H. Davies, but had no connection with the Hawaii company.


1984 rank: 15
Company: Honolulu Federal Savings and Loan

Gross Sales from 1984 list*: $173.2 million
Employees back then: 854

Principle businesses then: Savings and loan association; real estate developers; mortgage bankers; data processing services.
Where is it today: Gone. Honfed was sold in 1992 to Bank of America. In 1994, the new owner was sued by the state because of Honfed’s sale in the 1980s of troubled annuities to 4,000 policyholders. Policyholders were ultimately made whole by the lawsuit’s settlement. BofA sold its Hawaii assets to American Savings Bank in 1997.

* Based on sales for 1983.
Note: Hawaii Business published its first Top 250 list in 1984. The magazine launched the rankings with a Top 100 the previous year.

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