STAR-BULLETIN / MAY 1964
Herbert Hayashi holds a maile lei that was untied during the dedication of the Pagoda Hotel and Pagoda Floating Restaurant complex on Rycroft Street. The $2.3 million project included a 12-story hotel, hotel-apartment facility and its now-signature landscaped grounds of waterfall, streams and carp-filled ponds.
Hotelier wanted success for others, too
HERBERT HAYASHI / 1920-2005
HERBERT T. HAYASHI was stern but kind, meticulous yet forgiving.
To keep his workers sharp, "H.T." Hayashi scoured the lobbies of his three Hawaii hotels for cigarette butts and gum wrappers whenever he visited, and checked to make sure trees and shrubs on the property were properly pruned.
But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he set up a store where employees whose hours had been cut could get free groceries.
Hayashi, who rose from a humble upbringing at the Ewa Mill camp to become the founder of HTH Corp., one of Hawaii's largest hospitality companies, died Sunday at the Queen's Medical Center. He was 85.
"He grew up on an Oahu sugar plantation and learned to work hard for a living but also to be grateful for the opportunities given him," said daughter Corine Hayashi, president and chief executive officer of HTH, in a news release issued yesterday. "He reached his goals and exceeded them."
HTH Corp. owns the 837-room Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki, the 360-room Pagoda Hotel in Ala Moana and the 460-room King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel on the Big Island, along with several residential and office buildings on Oahu.
In all, Hayashi's three hotels employ 1,300 people.
Hayashi was born in Makaweli, Kauai, and raised in Ewa. After attending college in Japan, he returned to the islands to work as a Navy construction superintendent. In 1946 he founded his own residential construction company.
In the early 1960s he built the Pagoda Terrace and the Pagoda Inn, which later became Liona Apartments. He also developed the King Center.
Construction on the Pagoda Hotel had begun by 1964. Hayashi saw the Pagoda as a gathering place for tourists and kamaaina alike, all interested in staying outside of Waikiki. Six years later, Hayashi bought the Pacific Beach Hotel.
He added a second tower and a three-story, 280,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Tropical fish and sharks in the tank can be seen from three restaurants: the Shogun, Neptune and Oceanarium.
Hawaii Business Magazine named Hayashi "businessman of the year" in 1972. His latest venture was in 1991, when he bought King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.
Ed Saunders started out as a bellman at the Pagoda Hotel 20 years ago. Now, as its general manager, he still remembers the day Hayashi found out he had taken a "hiatus" from college.
"He got very upset," Saunders said. "He walked me to the restaurant and said, 'The first thing you need to do is get yourself back to school.'"
Saunders did -- and right away. "I didn't want to face him again in the hallway and tell him I didn't," he said, chuckling. "He cared for his employees."
Linda Morgan, director of human resources for HTH, remembers how Hayashi always wanted employees to feel they owned a part of the company.
"He liked people who took ownership," she said. "He was a man of values, and he went beyond caring."
The free store set up for hotel employees after the 9/11 attacks operated for nine months. That year, Hayashi made it clear he wanted no birthday gifts from workers. So to show their appreciation, Morgan said, dozens of workers dropped off canned goods and other supplies for the employees' store at Hayashi's home.
The donations helped stock the store for months.
"Our responsibility now is to carry on his legacy," Saunders said. "He was a local boy who made it, and his message was, 'You can, too.'"
Services for Hayashi are pending. Survivors include daughter Corine and son John. A complete list of survivors was not available yesterday.