Celebrating 20 Years of Top 250

This is the first in a six-part series that commemorates the 20th anniversary of Hawaii Business' Top 250 list

March, 2003

Richard Kelley, president and spokesman of Hotel Operating Co. of Hawaii, graced the cover of the March 1983 edition ofHawaii Business. A 1960 Harvard Medical School graduate, Kelley left his medical practice (he was a pathologist at the Queen’s Medical Center) to join the family hotel business, which included the Outrigger and Reef hotels. His wife, Linda, was the company’s risk manager; she oversaw the hotels’ insurance programs. The family-run hotel company grossed $20 million in 1982 sales and ranked No. 99 in theHawaii Business 100 (the predecessor to the Hawaii Business Top 250).

Today, Richard Kelley is the chairman of the board for Outrigger Enterprises. Linda, sits on the company’s advisory board of directors. The company ranks No. 18 on the 2002 Top 250 list, with $400 million in gross annual sales.


“Speaking of Teamsters, remember that they still speak with forked tongues and a polluted mouth. It takes more than Crest to clean out their waha. Don’t get taken in by their always out-of-context propaganda.”
– James Brown, president of United Public Workers in the December 1982 edition of the union’s paper. He was quoted in “Union Blues,” a feature story in the March 1983 Hawaii Business.

Technology 20 Years Ago:
In 1983, Tomo Wada, business and professional products manager of Sony Hawaii Co., introduced the MAVICA, a revolutionary disk camera that recorded pictures on a small, magnetic disk. The camera immediately played back on a TV set, using a unit called the MAVICA Viewer. The system produced “extremely true colors” and subtleties, such as skin tone.

Technology Today:
Ryozo Sakai, president of Sony Hawaii Co., unveiled the Cyber-shot U digital camera at the company’s annual expo last fall at the Ala Moana Hotel. The camera snaps still images and records movie clips. Users can choose from “special scene modes” that adjust to warmer skin tones, bright landscapes and dim lights. The palm-size product is smaller than most cell phones. Sony Hawaii ranks No. 31 on the Top 250 list, with $178 million in gross annual sales.

Tourism 20 Years Ago: 
In 1982, Hawaii’s visitor industry for the first time welcomed more than 4 million visitors in a single year. Not only did that boost visitor arrivals 8 percent over the previous year, but it also was the first sign of growth after the tourism industry hit a two-year plateau.

The Neighbor Islands did not get their share of that 8 percent increase – with the exception of Maui. Kauai’s tourism industry suffered the most in 1982, after Hurricane Iwa hurt the island’s year-end business. Television talk-show host Johnny Carson jokingly told his audience one night to cancel travel plans to Kauai and “wait for the island to float by.” To combat negative reports by the national media, the Hawaii Visitors Bureau secured a half-million dollars in federal grants to promote Kauai’s visitor attractions.

The average hotel occupancy in Hawaii 20 years ago was 70.44 percent. The average daily room rate was $51.78.

Tourism Today: 
Hawaii last year hosted 6,360,291 visitors, up 0.9 percent from 2001. The total number of visitor days for both domestic and international tourists was 59.4 million, a 2.8 percent increase from 2001. Fewer visitors came to the Islands for corporate meetings (-14.3 percent) and for incentive travels (-13.8 percent) in 2002. The number of pleasure travelers rose 7 percent, while honeymooners and wedding parties increased 28.9 percent.

The average daily room rate for 2002 was roughly $139.68, while the average occupancy was 69.6 percent. That is according to the most recent (November 2002 year-to-date) figures by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

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Cathy S. Cruz