Friday, December 17, 1999

Kaimuki tech firm
wants to lure 40-50
engineers back
home to work

Adtech hopes to tap people
with island ties to fill
sophisticated jobs

By Rob Perez


One of Hawaii's largest and fastest-growing high-tech business wants to hire 40 to 50 more employees, mostly engineers, to keep pace with the demand for its services.

And Adtech Inc., which makes sophisticated testing equipment for telecommunications companies, would like to fill the posts with Hawaii expatriates or others with ties to the islands, countering the so-called brain drain of young talent leaving the state.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Robin Uyeshiro, program manager at Adtech Inc.,
looks over an Ax/4000 board.

Tareq Hoque, Adtech president, said the Kaimuki company has pretty much tapped out the pool of local candidates for engineering jobs and is looking outside the state.

But because Adtech is in a specialized sector of the technology industry, it competes globally for its engineers, making recruitment all the more difficult, Hoque and other company officials say.

"If you're an engineer in our market, you can pretty much write your own ticket," Hoque said.

Demand for the cutting-edge, expensive equipment that Adtech produces in offices along Waialae Avenue has soared in recent years as use of the Internet and high-speed data transmissions surged.

Since late 1997, the company has basically doubled its size in staffing and sales, according to Hoque. Adtech, a subsidiary of the publicly traded British company Bowthorpe Plc, has about 200 employees.

Adtech wouldn't disclose sales revenue, which comes almost entirely from customers outside Hawaii.

Hoque said demand is so strong that the company is getting more orders than it is capable of shipping and more projects than it is capable of designing.

"It's a good problem to have," he said, acknowledging that many local companies have just the opposite problem because of Hawaii's sluggish economy.

Adtech Inc.

Bullet President: Tareq Hoque
Bullet Employees: 200
Bullet Manufactures: Sophisticated telecommunications testing equipment
Bullet Address: 3465 Waialae Ave., Suite 200, Kaimuki, HI 96816
Bullet Toll Free: 800-348-0080
Bullet Phone: (808) 734-3300
Bullet Fax: (808) 734-7100
Bullet Web site:

The jobs Adtech wants to fill pay relatively well. Engineers straight from college earn roughly $45,000 a year, and the company is looking mostly for professionals who already have experience, meaning the salaries will be higher. The jobs will be in Hawaii.

Mike Gouveia, Adtech vice president, said the company would like to tap the pool of former Hawaii residents who got engineering and other professional degrees and relocated to the mainland, sometimes because of a lack of job opportunities locally.

"It's difficult to find those people," Gouveia said. "It's a needle-in-a-haystack situation."

Finding people to fill high-tech positions in Hawaii is not a problem unique to Adtech.

Because Hawaii doesn't have a large number of high-tech companies and jobs, it can't attract and retain highly skilled workers in the same way a high-tech hub can, according to Laith Reynolds, chairman of the newly formed Hawaii Technology Trade Association.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Two employees, Craig Fujikami and Jocelyn Kunimitsu,
work at an Adtech board at Kaimuki headquarters.

Yet recruitment efforts like Adtech's are among the initiatives needed to help Hawaii establish a larger, higher profile employment base, Reynolds said. "We have to solve the problem step by step."

Although Adtech's roster of clients reads like a who's who of the telecomm industry -- AT&T, GTE, Sprint and MCI are among its customers -- the company is not well known outside the industry or even in Hawaii.

That's partly because Adtech has kept a low profile since its founding by several University of Hawaii professors in a garage in 1967.

The fact that almost all its clients are outside Hawaii has been a contributing factor.

Hoque, however, is trying to boost that profile, in part to help with recruiting. Rising stars in the industry often are reluctant to move to an area not known as a high-tech center, especially if the company isn't well known.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Joe Fala, Director of Advanced Development, shows
his company's Ax/4000 product.

While Adtech and other companies tout Hawaii's beauty and outdoor lifestyles as additional benefits to working here, that isn't enough to attract some candidates. Salaries sometimes have to be higher than what mainland companies offer.

"We feel we've got to entice people to come here," Hoque said. "It's a seller's market out there."

The 50 or so people Adtech wants to hire would boost its staff by 25 percent at a time when many Hawaii companies are holding the line on hirings or cutting back.

Expatriates' Corner

Are you from Hawaii, but living somewhere else? Email us at to tell us your views on why you moved away, what might lead you to return and what Hawaii can do to retain its 'best and brightest.'
We'll present a digest of your responses in a later edition.

Bullet Expatriates' Corner

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