Exemplary firmBy Jim Boersema
like DataHouse is not
IN your newspaper's zeal to uncover the tiniest details about the trustees of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, you have begun to harm the reputation of outstanding local companies.
I refer specifically to the Star-Bulletin's Jan. 17 article, "Estate hiring of computer firm raises questions," which described KS/BE's use of the local company DataHouse Inc. for some of its high-tech renovations.
The article does provide favorable details about DataHouse. But the clear implication is that it received work primarily because of a personal connection between Yukio Takemoto, KS/BE's principal executive for budget and review, and DataHouse founder and President Daniel Arita.
What baloney! Does the personal relationship between Takemoto and Arita account for the following facts?
A major requirement for KS/BE's information system revamp included experts in a particular software package. DataHouse is the only company in Hawaii with that expertise. When it came down to cost, DataHouse's work was substantially cheaper than the mainland vendor that KS/BE was considering, and DataHouse's work was just as good or better.
Big local firms like First Hawaiian, HMSA, Outrigger Hotels, Hawaiian Electric, Ameron, Queen's Hospital, Bank of Hawaii and Iolani School have all employed DataHouse in recent years. Does Takemoto have relatives at all of these firms?
DataHouse was recognized at Lotusphere in Jan. 1997 for developing the top educational/business software program in the nation from among 15,000 Lotus partners.
IBM invited DataHouse to present a display of its work at the Atlanta Olympics, one of only five computer firms in the nation to be so honored.
DataHouse has been hired on a number of occasions by mainland companies that could just as easily have hired high-tech talent in their own backyards. One case is Dade County, Fla. (Miami), which had its storm-water runoff monitoring system put online by DataHouse.
DataHouse's EduSuite Program is being used by public schools in Hawaii, and schools as far away as in California, Colorado and Texas are considering its use.
Not only is DataHouse good at its work, it gives back to the community.
It has been recognized by St. Francis Hospital for donating equipment and hundreds of hours of free staff time to create the Hawaii Bone Marrow Databank.
It is also on the verge of finalizing a web site for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, a pro-bono site that would allow young Hawaii athletes to receive recognition all across the country.
Is this the kind of company that deserves to be bashed by the media?
DataHouse can compete with anyone in the country when it comes to high-tech innovations. There are more than 40 people at DataHouse who attended local high schools.
More than that, DataHouse has opened an office on the mainland, partially with the intent of recruiting more local-born young people back to the islands. Mired in our worst economic slump in decades, we need more forward-looking companies like this if Hawaii is to have quality jobs in the future.
There's only one conclusion to make when presented with these facts: KS/BE hired DataHouse because it is the best local firm of its kind, doing quality work at reasonable rates. It was not hired because two executives were and are friends.
Newspapers have tremendous power to sway public opinion. They should use that power judiciously. But all your article accomplished was to harm the reputation of a company that Hawaii should be proud to call its own.
Had the attorney general specifically issued a subpoena because of DataHouse's work, that would be news.
Were there even the slightest hint of something illegal or fraudulent, that would be news.
Were your paper to actually do a favorable story about DataHouse, now that would be the biggest news yet!
Jim Boersema of the Professional Communications
public relations firm in Honolulu is the spokesman for DataHouse Inc.
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