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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This may be the best reason for Hawaiian Telcom to have turned so resolutely to local management: to help sustain the patience and trust of customers like Yoshimi. It’s a role that Dods and Yeaman take seriously. For his part, the decision to take on the role of chairman was an emotional one for Dods. “This is a true story,” he says. “When Aloha Airlines went down, that really affected me. Because, as a banker, I can tell you that I was personally involved in keeping that company alive for at least 20 years … So, when it finally did go out of business, it really affected me. And then I saw Norwegian Cruise Lines go back. And then I saw Molokai Ranch. And I made a decision just like that,” he says, snapping his fingers for effect. “I said, ‘No. Hawaiian Telcom is an important institution for Hawaii, and I should do my part to try to save it.’”
Yeaman leans forward to add to what Dods has said, and, as he speaks, his eyes mist over and his voice cracks a little. “I sort of get a little emotional when I think about it,” he says, “but I really believe I sort of came to do this for the same reasons Walt did. It’s because this company is an extremely important company to this community. And, as a side note, when I started my career in 1989 for Arthur Andersons’ local office, GTE Hawaiian Tel was my first client, my largest client and the client I spent the most time on. You know, I learned a lot about doing business—about how to work with people, and how to treat people—from people in this company. I really look at this as an opportunity for me to sort of come full circle and reconnect with this company in a way that has provided me with a huge opportunity to give back—not only to the company, but to the community it serves.”
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