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Hawaiian Telcom

Hawaiian Telcom just lost $30.5 mil. Why are these guys smiling? They believe local leadership can save the struggling company.

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 But none of that business is guaranteed for Hawaiian Telcom. “All those services have alternative suppliers,” Yoshimi says. “They had to compete to get that business; and, at times, they will have to re-compete to keep that business. They are absolutely at risk of losing them one by one because it’s our responsibility to make sure we have a reasonable price for the stuff that we buy.”

Like many enterprise customers, the university felt the effect of the cutover problems at Hawaiian Telcom. “We had substantial billing problems,” Yoshimi says. “And they got magnified because we’ve got so many customers.” Bills were sent to the wrong location, or had the wrong customer reference numbers on them. Sometimes they didn’t come at all. “Of course, as an enterprise customer, we had an opportunity to yell at the right people,” Yoshimi says with a smile. But, as the phone company has struggled to keep up with its back-office problems, Yoshimi noticed others arise in maintenance and service. “We saw some slippage in terms of availability of personnel, particularly with the skills to work on the Nortel line that we have here. … It’s enough to keep me up at night,” he says.

Yoshimi believes other enterprise customers share his concerns. “This is a pretty small community,” he says. “We tend to seek out other people to talk to—misery loves company—and my sense is many of us are in the same boat. Right now, we’re willing to be patient, and we’re interested to see what comes out of the new team. But they don’t have very much time.”

Like many in the local business community, Yoshimi is sympathetic to Hawaiian Telcom’s problems. “For better or worse,” he says, “they’re the home team. It’s a large company, and it’s important to the economy; but we all have our responsibilities. I think everybody’s pretty antsy. I don’t think it’s a matter of Eric has to come out in the next 30 days and fix everything. But we need to see progress soon.”

 

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Hawaii Business,October