Will Hawaii profit from the boom?
(page 3 of 3)
Hawaii companies are already taking advantage of the Guam buildup. “We’re getting calls from customers almost every day,” says Ray Ono, vice chairman of First Hawaiian Bank. “They’re hearing more and more about the potential in Guam, and they’re calling for information, just trying to validate what they’ve been hearing elsewhere. They’re doing their due diligence, calling their banker – who happens to have a stable operation in Guam and has been there nearly 40 years.”
“We have some old hands here in terms of Guam experience,” says Dean Robb, an attorney at Carlsmith Ball. Robb himself has been working in Guam since the 1970s. “And, if you walk down our halls,” he says, “there are probably seven or eight lawyers here who also practice in Guam.” Perhaps more importantly, the Guam office of Carlsmith Ball is staffed almost entirely with local Chamorro attorneys.
Investing in Guam
For small companies that take the time to learn about the community, a whole new class of opportunities arises – opportunities that have less to do with the buildup and more to do with the development that it causes. Companies like PEMCO or Commercial Roofing and Waterproofing may have gone to Guam to pursue military or government work, but, in the end, they’ve invested in Guam itself. John Yamamoto, president of PEMCO, notes that, in addition to his company’s bread and butter, managing foreclosed properties for HUD, they now have a joint venture with a landowner in Guam, investing millions of dollars in housing in anticipation of the island’s growth.
CRW has taken a similar path. “We’re making money,” says company president Guy Akasaki, “because we have some military projects.” But he proudly notes that the centerpiece of his company’s investment in Guam is 12 acres it has purchased in the industrial area of Harmon. This kind of site will be critical when contractors need staging areas for their immense projects.
First Hawaiian chairman Don Horner, who’s long had an interest in Guam, has the same view. He notes that much of First Hawaiian’s success there comes from treating Guam not like some foreign adventure, but like a Neighbor Island. He points out that you can get all the services of the Bishop Street headquarters at any Guam branch. And he uses an interesting metaphor to advise small companies considering the move to Guam: “Remember, the cake is the island of Guam itself; the buildup is only the icing.”
Do you like what you read? Subscribe to Hawaii Business Magazine »