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Saluting Our Silver Veterans

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, Editor, Hawaii BusinessLeadership is the key to success, especially in bad economic times. Several leaders made that point eloquently in last month’s cover story “How Bad Is It?” Our annual Top 250 list highlights the Hawaii companies with the substance to provide that kind of leadership.

If you take a look at the companies that tend to make it to the top of the Top 250 list, you are struck by some of the themes that run through them. They are innovators. They invest in their people with a sharp focus on customer service. And, they give back to our community.

These attributes are highly concentrated in the 25-year veterans who grace our pages this year. Hard to believe but this issue marks the 25th anniversary of the Hawaii Business Top 250.

Our first ranking of the biggest companies in Hawaii was in 1983. There were only 100 companies on that first list. In 1984, we ranked our first full Top 250. Turn to page 42 to see the list of companies who have been on the Top 250 every year since 1984.
Sure, a lot has changed in business since 1983, but a whole lot has also stayed the same. I gave a short presentation to the Downtown Exchange Club last month about Hawaii Business and this is one of the first questions I was asked: “Roosevelt or Punahou?”

“Roosevelt!” was my proud reply.

1984 Top 250 issueIt was such a local-style business question (See “What School You Went?” in the December 2007 issue.) The question demonstrates one more important lesson from our 25-year veterans. One of the keys to longevity is ensuring that “local” people are making the decisions for Hawaii operations. Of course, things get sticky when you try to define “local,” however, local values become clear once you observe folks, hear the way in which they communicate and note their actions.

I believe that the most important leadership ingredient to business longevity and success in Hawaii is the ability to embrace and emulate “local” values. Our Top 250 25-Year Veterans surely have shown these skills. We salute them and wish them every success for the next 25 years.

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Hawaii Business,August