Behind The Scenes
Dozens of dedicated people put in countless hours to compile the Top 250 list. This year, the hard-working folks at Ward Research Inc. joined the Hawaii Business team.
The Top 250 is very much a year-round project. At the completion of one year’s list, the Hawaii Business team is always thinking of ways to improve the project the next time around. The 2004 Top 250 process formally started with a February planning meeting to map out our project schedule. The team at Ward Research, headed by President Rebecca S. Ward and Senior Analyst and Project Manager Ryan Shibuya, scanned databases for the latest intelligence on Hawaii-based businesses.
The Hawaii Business team took that information, and determined which companies seemed like good candidates to be surveyed, in addition to last year’s Top 250, and other companies who thought they had the requisite sales and had asked to be included. On April 2, 2004, letters from Hawaii Business Editor Kelli Abe Trifonovitch and Publisher Hoyt H. Zia with Top 250 surveys attached went out to hundreds of Hawaii companies. Then the Ward Research team got REALLY busy, following up with company officials to get their completed surveys in and entering the data.
Ward says, “One of the most important ways is establishing some kind of rapport with the gatekeeper, so it’s the administrative staff who support the CFO or whoever it is that’s going to sign the paperwork. By trading on or leveraging the importance of the Top 250 listings – it’s almost an institution – by talking to them about the importance of the Top 250 list and the deadlines, we’ll get more support from the administrative staff that way.”
A couple of refinements, designed to improve the list’s accuracy, were initiated this year. Companies were required to determine annual gross sales according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for each particular industry or industries. If any question arose regarding GAAP, Hawaii Business relied on the expertise of the Hawaii office of the accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. To ensure accuracy of information, a company official equivalent or higher to a chief financial officer was required to sign the survey.
Once the data was collected, Ward Research compiled it and sent a number of different hard copy and electronic files and databases to Hawaii Business. This year’s cutoff was $17.2 million in gross annual sales.
The Hawaii Business team then figured out the stories behind the numbers. Their words and the photographs and illustrations from a number of contributing freelancers tell these stories. AIO Group’s IT Director Dan Cameron, who developed the programming for the Top 250, assisted with this year’s list. Wes Funai, Hawaii Business’ Creative Director, was the primary creative talent for the cover and cover package of stories, and supervised a talented production and graphics team, which labored on the entire magazine.
The end result is the 2004 issue of the Hawaii Business’ Top 250. According to Ward, “There’s nothing that has the longevity and there’s nothing that’s as widely used. I think you folks probably have the most valued – it’s really a brand – the Top 250 is a brand for you.”