Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Kauai engineering firm gets $435 million pact

A small engineering firm on Kauai has won a $435 million, 50-year contract to operate and expand the wastewater treatment plant at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. Aqua Engineers, headquartered in Lawai, was the only American-owned firm to bid for the work and it was chosen over two foreign-owned bidders, American Waterworks and U.S. Filter, said U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who announced the award.

The treatment plant serves Wheeler Army Airfield and Helemano Military Reservation in addition to Schofield. Aqua Engineers employs 50 people and has been in business for 23 years. It operates 23 wastewater treatment facilities in Hawaii.

Aqua Engineers is using local engineering subcontractors for the Schofield job. They are Morikawa & Associates on Maui and the Oahu firms of Austin Tsutsumi & Associates, Wilson Okamoto & Associates, Brown and Caldwell Consultants and ITC Water Management. The construction contractor is Bodell Construction, also of Oahu.

Cruise ship visitors up 17%

The number of out-of-state cruise ship visitors to Hawaii rose 16.7 percent in the first half of the year, the result of an increase in ship tours, according to data released today by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

A total 134,116 out-of-state cruise visitors toured the islands in the first six months, on 75 tours, up from 114,947 passengers on 66 tours in the same period last year.

"Nearly 85 percent of the cruise visitors during the first half of this year were from the U.S. mainland, which contributed to the strong performance of our domestic market," state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert said.

Hawaii's overall visitor arrivals from U.S. cities increased 2.8 percent in the first half of this year from last year, despite the war in Iraq. Cruise ship visitors represent about 4.4 percent of total Hawaii arrivals. Last year, the growth in cruise ship passengers to the islands was more pronounced, with a 52 percent year-over-year increase in passengers.

Nearly two-thirds of cruise visitors stayed in hotels while in Hawaii. The average length of stay here, including time on-board, was 7.3 days, up 7 percent from last year. The average visitor spent $96 on shore while in Hawaii, up from $92 last year. About 60 percent of cruise visitors have been to the islands before, the state said.

A&B buys first Utah property

A&B Properties, the real estate subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin Inc., has purchased a three-building industrial complex in Salt Lake City, Utah for $8 million.

The 14.6-acre property is the company's first acquisition in the state.

Centennial Plaza was acquired in a section 1031 tax-deferred exchange using proceeds from properties sold earlier this year, the company said. The property consists of 244,000 square feet of leasable space in Centennial Industrial Park, three miles south of the Salt Lake International Airport.

A&B Properties owns commercial properties in Hawaii and on the mainland with more than 5 million square feet of leasable retail, office and industrial space.

Grace completes Sun purchase

Grace Pacific Corp. has finalized its purchase of Sun Industries Inc., a 25-year-old Honolulu-based company that specializes in roadway, personal and industrial safety. The company began operating as a Grace Pacific subsidiary Aug. 29.

Sun Industries will retain both its name and all its 135 employees. The company's former owner, Sidney Quintal, will continue to operate the business.

Grace Pacific, which estimates an additional $15 million in annual revenues from the purchase, has more than 300 workers throughout the state in its asphalt-paving operations, as well as quarries on Oahu and Molokai.

Maui produce distributor acquired

Maui Fresh International Inc., a distributor of specialty fruits and vegetables that has its headquarters in Anaheim, Calif., with some of its operations in Hawaii, is being acquired by publicly held Calavo Growers Inc. for $4.5 million in stock.

Santa Ana, Calif.-based Calavo was formed in the 1920s as a cooperative of avocado growers and later diversified into limes and other produce.

Freddie Mac execs formally fired

Two top executives who resigned from mortgage giant Freddie Mac amid accounting turmoil and federal investigations will be fired for alleged improper conduct, federal regulators said yesterday.

By reclassifying former chairman and CEO Leland Brendsel and ex-chief financial officer Vaughn Clark as terminated, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight could reduce the millions of dollars in compensation granted to them.

Dress for even less with new Ross stores

The chain that brought its "dress for less" anthem to middle-class America said yesterday it plans to open an even cheaper line of stores starting next year.

The stores, which will operate separately from Ross Stores and bear a yet-to-be-determined name, will offer midlevel department store brands to lower-income households -- a group Ross says is growing at an enticingly fast rate.

The 10 new stores will open by the end of 2004 in lower-income suburban and urban markets, said Ross spokeswoman Katie Loughnot.


[Hawaii Inc.]



>> Atlantis Adventures has promoted Masakazu Ishida to the newly created position of director of international marketing and sales. He will focus his energies on the eastbound visitor market, overseeing all activities related to marketing including advertising, public relations and special promotions. He also will be responsible for selling the Atlantis product line through suppliers such as wholesalers, ground transportation operators and travel agents. He has been with Atlantis since May 2000, starting as a Japan sales representative. He was most recently marketing manager for Asia, developing the company's 2003 Japan marketing plan.

>> Honolulu-headquartered firm Construction Management & Development Inc. has promoted Wanda Tsuda-Skaggs to executive assistant to chief executive officer. She will be responsible for providing assistance as needed to the board chairman and project managers in addition to her duties for Chairman and CEO Jim Salter. She has been with the company for 3 1/2 years as contracts administrator.

On the Board

>> Honolulu CPA James C.L. Moo has been elected to the board of governors of the National Society of Accountants, representing District XI for 2003-04. District XI includes Hawaii, American Samoa and Guam. Moo has been in private practice since 1986. For the past year, he has been president of the Hawaii Association of Public Accountants, NSA's local affiliate.


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