Trusted transportation company keeps rolling
By Yu Shing Ting
Driven with Aloha! That’s how Roberts Hawaii rolls with not just its passengers and guests, but its employees as well.
“We like to foster a warm and friendly work environment, full of great people with a strong work ethic,” said Terence Holmes, human resources generalist for recruitment and employment. “Our employee ohana is truly that — family,” he added.
Founded in 1941 by Robert Iwamoto Sr., Roberts Hawaii started as a one-man taxi service in the small town of Hanapepe on Kauai. Since then, it’s grown into one of the largest transportation and tour companies in the state, operating a full line of tours, entertainment options and ground transportation services on four islands: Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and Oahu.
Transportation services include airport shuttles, school bus services, automated passport control kiosks at the international terminal of the airport, the Maui Bus transit system and shopping shuttles on Oahu and Hawaii Island.
“Many people may recognize Roberts Hawaii by their green tour buses with the contemporary Hawaiian design, but we work daily to serve thousands of local residents and visitors in other ways,” noted Holmes. “We take people where they need to go.”
The company also has become one of Hawaii’s premier entertainment providers, and owns the award-winning Magic of Polynesia show in Waikiki. More recently, it added specialized tours designed for smaller groups, in response to the changing needs of its guests.
New are Hoku Hawaii Tours, a luxury line for visitors interested in exploring the island’s rich cultural, historic and scenic wonders at an exceptional level of comfort and service; and Waikiki Ocean Thriller, a small group boat tour exploring the skyline of Waikiki.
As the business expanded and diversified, so did the company’s workforce, which has grown to 1,800 employees statewide. Roberts Hawaii also is the largest ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) company in the state.
“We value our employees, and the ESOP offers great benefits in several important ways,” said Holmes. “In an ESOP, employees share ownership of the company, which means we all have a vested interest to do the best we can to provide great products and great service.
“As owners, our employees contribute to and share in the rewards of the company’s continued growth and success,” he continued. “The ESOP is also structured to help employees save for retirement, because their share of the company can grow in value on a tax-deferred basis, and can serve as a source of support when the employee retires. And, the ESOP is fully funded by the company, so there’s no cost to individual employees.”
Roberts Hawaii employees fill a wide range of niches, from administrative roles to tour drivers and school bus drivers, mechanics and culinary experts, call center, sales positions and more. Training is provided, with an emphasis on developing and maintaining safe and skilled drivers.
“We just celebrated our 75th anniversary, and we would not have achieved that tremendous milestone without the support of so many people and organizations over the year,” Holmes said. “With 1,800 local employees, we belong to dozens of communities across the state. On a typical day, we may move and service thousands of residents — many of them school students, community groups, friends, neighbors and people we may know.
“Our local communities are an important part of our daily operations, and conversely, we are proud to be able to provide a useful service to the communities in which we operate. We are ‘Driven with Aloha,’ and aloha for our community is what drives us.”
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COMPANY: Roberts Hawaii
LOCATION: 680 Iwilei Road, Ste. 700, Honolulu (There also are offices throughout Oahu, and on Maui, Kona, Hilo and Kauai)
PRESIDENT AND COO: Percy Higashi
EMPLOYEES: Roberts Hawaii has more than 1,800 employees statewide.
BENEFITS: Full-time employees receive an attractive benefits package including paid training, medical, vision, uniforms, paid vacation after one-year of service, 401(K), ESOP, flex spending account, supplemental insurance and generous employee discounts. Many of these benefits also are provided to part-time employees based on position and eligibility requirements.
NOTEWORTHY: Roberts Hawaii started as a one-man taxi service. The company purchased its first air-conditioned motor coach in 1955, and has since grown to a fleet of about 900 vehicles, now offering a variety of transportation services.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROBERTS HAWAII