By Craig Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Hiram deFries shows off a photo of the high school team
he coaches in his free time. His promotion to a regional post
with the new Shell-Texaco venture means he'll be
leaving Hawaii for Seattle.
Isle Shell manager
taking big step up
Hiram deFries goes fromBy Jerry Tune
52 to over 850 Shell stations
under his eye
Hiram deFries, Hawaii district manager of Shell Oil Products Co. since 1994, is moving to Seattle in June to head one of the five regions of Equilon Enterprises LLC, the new joint venture of Shell and Texaco.
As general manager of the Pacific region, deFries will watch over 850 service stations. DeFries, 56, will be one of five regional managers for Equilon, a $10 billion a year operation with almost 9,000 stations. Its a big step up from the 52 Hawaii Shell stations, four terminals and 24 employees that deFries administered.
"It's a real challenge," deFries said. "Right now I'm putting together my staff (of 62) to manage operations. You need the right people in the right spots to gain efficiency."
Texaco's stations in Hawaii must be sold under terms of a government consent degree to permit the Shell-Texaco venture.
The joining of Shell and Texaco marketing operations is part of an industry trend to tighten up management of a "high-capital business," deFries said.
"We are flattening out the company and a lot of middle management people are being displaced," he said. "It enables us to react quicker to the marketplace."
Administration of Hawaii's stations will be combined with those of Portland, handled from Oregon.
Kalihi-born deFries wanted to stay in Hawaii. "I told them I could run the operation out of Hawaii but I got out-voted," he said.
The move to Seattle will put him a little closer to Southern California where he has been a volunteer football coach for Mater Dei High School for the past five years. Since moving back to Hawaii in 1994, deFries relied on the fax machine and weekend flights to continue coaching.
"I leave on Friday and come back on Sunday evening," deFries said of his coaching schedule. Last year he made 22 flights. Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., was No.1 in the nation in 1994 and 1996, he said.
DeFries earlier was an assistant football coach at Mission Viejo High School. "Youth and athletics has always been a big thing for me," he said.
He was an all-league center at Punahou in the 1950s and played center and guard on the Colorado State University football team. DeFries also was an outfielder on the Punahou baseball team.
From 1963 to 1976, deFries worked for Shell Oil Co. as a terminal operator in Honolulu, and then as a retail sales representative and real estate representative in Orange County, Calif. He also worked at Shell's headquarters in Houston, before taking educational leave to enter law school.
At 34, he attended law school at Western State University and in the late 1970s was a lawyer in Newport, Calif., defending oil companies against the U.S. Department of Energy.