Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. History
P.O. Box 3440
Honolulu, Hawaii 96801-3440
Telephone: (808) 525-6611
Fax: (808) 525-6652
Incorporated: 1900 as Alexander & Baldwin, Limited
Sales: $1.07 billion (2000)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: ALEX
NAIC: 111339 Other Noncitrus Fruit Farming; 111930 Sugarcane Farming; 221111 Hydroelectric Power Generation; 221119 Other Electric Power Generation; 221310 Water Supply and Irrigation Systems; 233110 Land Subdivision and Land Development; 311311 Sugarcane Mills; 311920 Coffee and Tea Manufacturing; 422490 Other Grocery and Related Products Wholesalers; 483113 Coastal and Great Lakes Freight Transportation; 484220 Specialized Freight (Except Used Goods) Trucking, Local; 488320 Marine Cargo Handling; 488330 Navigational Services to Shipping; 488510 Freight Transportation Arrangement; 493190 Other Warehousing and Storage; 531110 Lessors of Residential Buildings and Dwellings; 531120 Lessors of Nonresidential Buildings (Except Miniwarehouses); 531190 Lessors of Other Real Estate Property
There is no other company exactly like Alexander & Baldwin, and we believe that our uniqueness holds the key to our strength. Our strength is in our numbers, with a consistently strong balance sheet and cash flow, and strong 2000 performance. Our growth is in our diverse business assets in transportation and real estate. Our commitment is in our diversity, culturally and geographically. Our assets lie in our rich heritage and long history of providing value for our customers. Key Dates:
- Samuel T. Alexander and Henry P. Baldwin establish a sugarcane plantation on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
- An irrigation project called Hamakua ditch is completed, bringing much needed water to the growing plantation.
- Company purchases controlling interest in Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC & S).
- Company is reorganized under a new corporation, Alexander & Baldwin, Limited (A & B).
- A & B acquires a minority interest in Matson Navigation Company, a cargo shipping firm.
- Company moves into property development with formation of a subsidiary called Kahului Development Co., Ltd.
- Kahului Development begins building a new residential community on Maui that will eventually evolve into the city of Kahului.
- A & B takes full control of HC & S, which becomes a division of the company; A & B changes the 'Limited' in its name to 'Inc.'
- A & B acquires a 94 percent controlling interest in Matson.
- A & B increases its holding in Matson to 100 percent.
- Joint venture is formed with Hills Brothers to grow coffee on Kauai, a venture that will eventually be 100 percent owned by A & B and be called Kauai Coffee Company; Matson forms Matson Intermodal System, Inc.
- Matson forms Matson Leasing Company, Inc.; A & B creates A & B-Hawaii, Inc. (ABHI) as its main subsidiary for its food products and property development and management operations.
- A & B takes full control of California and Hawaiian Sugar Company, Inc. (C & H), the main purchaser and marketer of A & B's sugar.
- Matson Leasing is sold to Xtra Corp. for about $362 million.
- Matson Navigation begins ten-year trans-Pacific shipping alliance with American President Lines, Ltd.
- A & B sells a 64 percent stake in C & H to an investment group.
- ABHI is merged into the parent company.
Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., one of the original 'Big Five' Hawaiian companies, is a diversified corporation with operations in ocean transportation, food products, and property development and management. Ocean transportation, overseen by Matson Navigation Company, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, accounts for about 80 percent of the company's revenue. Through Matson, Alexander & Baldwin (A & B) is a leading carrier of containerized cargo and automobiles between Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Coast. Matson's fleet of 19 ships and barges also provides service to several islands in the South Pacific and to Guam. Matson also provides terminal services, such as cargo handling, in Hawaii, and arranges intermodal transportation in North America for shippers and carriers, which involves the ground and rail transport of cargo from Pacific Coast ports to interior U.S. locations. A & B's property development and management segment provides about 10 percent of the company's revenues. With some 91,000 acres of land in Hawaii, the majority of it on the island of Maui, A & B is the fifth largest landowner in the state. The company develops residential, commercial, and light industrial properties and has about 1.2 million square feet of income-generating properties. A & B's food products business is involved in sugarcane and coffee. The company's Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company division had 37,000 acres of sugarcane fields and is Hawaii's largest producer of raw sugar. The company processes the cane into raw sugar at its mill on Maui, and most of the raw sugar is then sold to C & H Sugar Company, Inc., which refines it in California and markets it throughout the western United States. A & B holds about a 36 percent stake in C & H Sugar, whose C & H brand is the leading sugar brand in the western United States. The coffee operations are conducted through Kauai Coffee Company, Inc., a subsidiary of A & B. Kauai operates the largest coffee estate in the United States, with approximately 3,800 acres, and is responsible for about 60 percent of the coffee grown in the country. Kauai markets most of its crop in the United States and Asia as premium-priced, green (unroasted) coffee. Food products, A & B's founding business, now generate less than 10 percent of the company's revenues.
Although A & B was not incorporated until 1900, the company was founded 30 years earlier by the two men whose names it bears, Samuel T. Alexander and Henry P. Baldwin, both sons of missionaries living in Hawaii. Longtime friends, the two men began working together in the mid-1860s, when Alexander hired the younger Baldwin as his assistant in managing a sugar plantation in Waihee on the island of Maui. In 1869 the pair purchased 12 acres of land in central Maui; the following year, with an additional 559 acres, they established their own sugarcane plantation, marketing sugar on the mainland through such exporting firms as Castle & Cooke. Alexander and Baldwin became in-laws that year when Baldwin married Emily Alexander, his partner's sister.
By 1876, the volume of sugarcane growing on the plantation had increased so much that the readily available supply of water could not support it. To address this problem, Alexander devised a sophisticated irrigation plan that involved the construction of a gigantic ditch through rain forest terrain. The resulting Hamakua ditch, 17 miles long and capable of carrying 60 million gallons of water a day from the waters of East Maui, was completed in 1878 and served as the model for many other such irrigation projects throughout Hawaii.
The partnership of Alexander and Baldwin was incorporated in 1883 under the name Paia Plantation. That year, Alexander resigned as manager of the neighboring Haiku Sugar Company, a position he had held since before the opening of Paia, and moved to California, leaving Baldwin to manage both plantations. Over the next few years, Paia acquired controlling interest in Haiku, as the partners continued to acquire land and expand their sugar production.
In 1894, A & B launched its own sugar agency, based in San Francisco. The agency was headed by Alexander's son, Wallace, and Joseph P. Cooke, son of Castle & Cooke cofounder Amos S. Cooke. In its first year of operation, the Alexander & Baldwin agency turned a profit of $2,670. By 1899, A & B was serving as agent for a formidable collection of companies, including the Paia and Haiku plantations, the Hawaiian Sugar Company, and the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC & S) and its subsidiary, Kahului Railroad Company. A & B had in fact purchased a controlling interest in HC & S in 1898.
Expanding in the Early 20th Century
By 1900, the company had outgrown its partnership structure, and a new corporation, Alexander & Baldwin, Limited, was formed. In addition to the company's Honolulu headquarters, a branch office was maintained in San Francisco; Baldwin served as president. That year, the corporation reported its first annual profit, $150,000. A & B went into the insurance business the following year, establishing a division overseen by Alexander's son-in-law, John Waterhouse. By 1920, the division was acting as agent for several established insurance companies, including Home Insurance Company, German Alliance Insurance Association, and the Commonwealth Insurance Company, all based in New York. The insurance division thrived for several decades before it was sold off in 1967.
Another new entity, the Maui Agricultural Company (MA Co.), was founded in 1903, in order to offset the effects of the Organic Act, which limited the amount of land a new corporation could hold to 1,000 acres. In response, A & B formed five companies with less than 1,000 acres each. These five companies were then combined with the Paia and Haiku plantations to form MA Co. Through MA Co. and HC & S, A & B now controlled the operations of two of Maui's most important plantations.
Samuel Alexander died in 1904. In 1906, Henry Baldwin was succeeded as manager of HC & S by his son Frank, and when Henry died five years later, Frank became HC & S president, a position he would retain until his death in 1960. Both MA Co. and HC & S prospered during the first part of the 20th century. In 1908, the two companies jointly formed the East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI) to manage the extensive system of irrigation ditches that was in development. In 1917, MA Co. built a distillery for producing alcohol from molasses, the first such facility in the United States. HC & S completed several other major projects during this time, including the construction of the new Waihee ditch and the modernization of its power plant and other equipment. Another plantation, Kihei, was merged into HC & S during this period as well.
A & B's cargo shipping business was developed to complement its sugar operations. In 1908 the company became a minority shareholder in Matson Navigation Company, which had been handling most of A & B's shipping between Hawaii and San Francisco for years. A & B continued to increase its investment in Matson, and the company eventually became a wholly owned subsidiary of A & B in 1969.
Wallace Alexander served as CEO of A & B from 1918 to 1930. During this time, the company began marketing pineapples, EMI completed construction of the Wailoa ditch, its final major ditch project, and A & B's headquarters building in Honolulu was completed. The following year, John Waterhouse succeeded Wallace Alexander as company president.
The 1930s were a period of technological advancement in A & B's sugar operations. In 1932, the company completed construction on the Alexander Dam, one of the largest hydraulic fill earth dams in the world. The Alexander Dam, located at the company's McBryde plantation, cost over $360,000 to build and was the site of a 1930 mud slide that killed several people. Both HC & S and MA Co. switched from steam plows to tractors around this time, and HC & S began mechanical harvesting on a large scale in 1937.
Venturing into Property Development in the 1940s
A & B sold its Hawaiian Sugar Company plantation in 1941. Although this plantation remained productive and profitable, it was situated on leased land, and A & B was unable to negotiate favorable lease terms or a purchase agreement. In 1945 Waterhouse was replaced as president of A & B by J. Platt Cooke, who served for a year before turning over the office to Frank Baldwin. In 1948, the HC & S and MA Co. plantations merged, creating one large plantation operating under the HC & S name. The two plantations produced more than 100,000 tons of sugar during the first year of the merger. Soon thereafter, the plantation began to phase out its railroad distribution system in favor of trucking.
A & B began to move into property development in 1949, forming Kahului Development Co., Ltd. as a subsidiary of HC & S. In response to the complaints of plantation employees regarding the inadequate housing available to them, Kahului Development built a new residential community, which was opened in 1950 and became known as Dream City. This development gradually evolved into the city of Kahului, Maui's most populous community.
A & B operated several general stores on plantations and railroad sites. In 1950, its stores and equipment manufacturing concerns, as well as the lumberyard and mill operations of the Kahului Railroad Company, were organized under the A & B Commercial Company. The following year, A & B opened the first A & B Super Market, as well as the Kahului Store, Maui's first complete department store.
The company made several technological strides in its sugar operations during the 1950s. In 1951, HC & S's two factories combined to produce a record 151,000 tons of sugar. Several improvements in machinery for weed control and harvesting were introduced during this time, and, in 1957, HC & S put the world's largest bagasse (cane residue) burning boiler into operation at its Paia sugar factory.
Taking Full Control of HC & S and Matson in the 1960s
Up until the 1960s, A & B had remained essentially a sales agent that held substantial interest in the companies it represented. Its income came from agency fees and dividends on the stock it owned in its client companies. This began to change, however, as A & B started turning many of its clients into subsidiaries. Much of this shift took place under C.C. Cadagan, who was named president of A & B in 1960, becoming the first chief executive from outside the founding families. In 1962, HC & S was merged into A & B, becoming a division of the company. HC & S's three subsidiaries, Kahului Railroad Company (KRR), East Maui Irrigation Company, and Kahului Development Company, all became subsidiaries of A & B. A & B Commercial Company, which ran the HC & S plantation stores, was made a division. At the same time, the last word of the company's name was changed from 'Limited' to 'Inc.'
Using funds it had received from the liquidation of Honolulu Oil Corporation, a company in which it had initially invested in 1911, A & B acquired a 94 percent controlling interest in Matson Navigation Company in 1964. The following year, the company eliminated what remained of KRR's unprofitable railroad operations, and that subsidiary was later renamed Kahului Trucking & Storage, Inc. By the end of the decade, the company had terminated its pineapple business and had increased its holding in Matson to 100 percent. The McBryde and Kahuke plantations had become wholly owned subsidiaries as well.
The 1970s were a frustrating period of stalled expansion plans for A & B. In 1970, Allen Wilcox was named CEO, replacing Stanley Powell, Cadagan's successor four years earlier. Under Wilcox, A & B abandoned its plans to expand its Far East shipping operations, choosing instead to concentrate on its business closer to home, such as developing some of its Maui land for resort use. Another change in leadership took place in 1972, when Lawrence Pricher was named CEO. Under Pricher, the company launched another expansion push, which included investments in oil refiner Pacific Resources, Inc. and Teakwood Holdings Ltd. (a Hong Kong furniture company), the purchase of Rogers Brothers Co. (an Idaho potato business), and the formation of a consulting firm called A & B Agribusiness Corporation. None of these ventures proved particularly fruitful, and, at the same time, some earlier investments that also proved unprofitable were sold off, including Edward R. Bacon Company and Acme Fast Freight, Inc. With the price of sugar falling, and profits at Matson unimpressive, A & B's net income remained sluggish through the mid-1970s.
Yet another change in command took place in 1978, when Gilbert Cox left Amfac Inc., Hawaii's biggest sugar producer, to assume the presidency of A & B. Cox's strategy for growth involved selling off most of Pricher's small acquisitions, such as the potato company, and using the money for a major acquisition. In 1979, an agreement was reached under which A & B would acquire the 80 percent of Pacific Resources it did not already own. This deal fell through, however, following opposition from a group of stockholders led by well-known investor Harry Weinberg.
The rapid succession of new presidents at A & B finally slowed in 1980 with the arrival of Robert Pfeiffer, formerly the CEO at Matson. An upward swing in sugar prices helped boost the company's profits that year, and, by 1983, sugar accounted for 21 percent of A & B's $395 million in sales. As the company again considered diversification, Harry Weinberg, Hawaii's largest individual landowner, increased his holding in A & B to 25 percent. In 1984, Weinberg forced a proxy battle for control of the company, arguing that A & B's land holdings were worth far more than its books indicated and that property development should be the company's top priority. Unlike most of his boardroom conflicts with large Hawaiian companies, however, this one ended with Weinberg and his associates forced off the A & B board of directors.
In January 1987, A & B got rid of its merchandising division, selling A & B Commercial Company to Monarch Building Supply, Inc., a Honolulu-based company. By this time, A & B had revenues of $655 million, the bulk of which was generated by Matson, which controlled about 75 percent of the container cargo shipping market between Hawaii and the West Coast. Between 1983 and 1987, profits more than doubled to $120 million, and about three-fourths of that total came from Matson. In 1987 A & B began preparing to grow coffee on Kauai through a joint venture between its McBryde subsidiary and Hills Brothers. Another development in 1987 was Matson's formation of a new subsidiary, Matson Intermodal System, Inc., whose specialty was arranging for the transport by rail and truck of cargo containers from Pacific Coast ports to destinations in the U.S. interior.
Several key events occurred in 1989. A & B sold off its remaining shares of Pacific Resources to Australia's Broken Hill Proprietary Company for $123 million, pocketing a substantial profit. The company made another tidy sum on the sale of the Wailea resort community on Maui to Shinwa Golf Group for about $198 million. A & B had been developing the beachfront resort since 1970. Some of the proceeds from these sales were used to purchase development property on the U.S. mainland, most notably in California, Washington state, Colorado, and Texas. Matson formed another subsidiary in 1989, this one called Matson Leasing Company, Inc. Matson Leasing quickly grew into one of the largest lessors of marine cargo containers in the world, establishing 12 offices in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia and operating from 98 depot locations across the globe. A final key development in 1989 was a company restructuring in which there would now be two main subsidiaries of A & B: Matson Navigation and the newly created A & B-Hawaii, Inc. (ABHI). The latter took over management of all of A & B's food products and property development and management subsidiaries and operations. A & B recorded net income of $199 million on revenue of $846 million in 1989. Two years later Pfeiffer passed the reins of the company to John C. Couch, who became president and CEO. Couch had served A & B for 15 years, initially with Matson Navigation Company.
1990s and Beyond
A & B's revenues stagnated and net income slumped during the first part of the 1990s, as the Hawaiian economy was battered from both the recession in the United States and the bursting of the late 1980s bubble economy in Japan. With sales hovering around the $750 million mark from 1990 to 1992, company earnings dipped to under $19 million in 1992, the lowest level in over a decade. That figure included a $15.8 million charge to cover losses from Hurricane Iniki, which devastated Kauai in 1992. Nevertheless, A & B mounted a successful comeback the following year. The company reported major increases in both profit and revenue, up to $67 million and $979 million, respectively. Moreover, in June 1993, A & B's $63 million purchase of the 72 percent of California and Hawaiian Sugar Company, Inc. (C & H) that it did not already own helped bolster revenues and profits. For most of the 20th century, C & H had bought the bulk of the raw sugar produced by A & B and had been cooperatively owned by all of Hawaii's sugar producers. A & B took full control of C & H in order to fund needed improvements at the company's huge refinery in Crockett, California. C & H, which had annual revenues of about $500 million, was the leading brand of sugar west of the Mississippi. Also in 1993, Nestlé Beverage Co., successor to Hills Brothers, pulled out of the Kauai coffee joint venture following the devastation of Hurricane Iniki, leaving A & B in full control of what would eventually be called Kauai Coffee Company, Inc.
The takeover of C & H helped propel revenues past the $1 billion mark in 1994, to $1.14 billion. Earnings grew only slightly, however, totaling $74.6 million. That year, Matson launched a Pacific Coast shipping service linking the ports of Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver, British Columbia. This 'shuttle' service offered shippers an alternative to rail and truck transport along the coast. In April of the following year, Pfeiffer retired and Couch was named to the additional post of chairman. Two months later A & B sold Matson Leasing for about $362 million to Xtra Corporation, a Boston-based transportation services firm that had approached A & B with an unsolicited offer. A & B had built Matson Leasing into the world's seventh largest marine container leasing company and would have needed to make additional investments in the subsidiary to maintain its rapid growth rate. Most analysts applauded the sale for both its timing and its price. Other developments in 1995 included a restructuring of C & H, which was operating in the red. About one-fourth of the jobs at C & H's refinery in Crockett, California, were eliminated. A & B also phased out its unprofitable sugar operations on Kauai.
In early 1996 came the start of a planned ten-year trans-Pacific shipping alliance between Matson Navigation and American President Lines, Ltd. (APL). The first step involved APL selling six container ships and some assets in Guam to Matson for $164 million. Matson would use five of the vessels on westbound voyages from the Pacific Coast to Hawaii and Guam. Then APL would charter the ships for excursions to the Far East. Meantime, A & B continued to battle the effects of the prolonged economic malaise afflicting Hawaii, managing in spite of this operating environment to post record revenues of $1.28 billion in 1997 and earnings of $81.4 million, the latter the company's best performance in six years. Aiding in these positives were A & B's income-generating properties on the mainland, which by this time included three million square feet in six western states. Although the Maui sugar plantation performed poorly that year, Kauai Coffee produced a record harvest of more than four million pounds, a 70 percent increase over the previous year and a total that represented nearly 60 percent of the coffee grown in the entire United States. Unfortunately, the coffee subsidiary had yet to make a profit.
In July 1998 Couch took an indefinite medical leave after he began receiving treatment for liver cancer. Pfeiffer was brought back as chairman temporarily, with Charles M. Stockholm taking over as chairman in August 1999. In October 1998 W. Allen Doane was promoted from executive vice-president to president and CEO of A & B, having joined the company in 1991 as executive vice-president and COO of ABHI. A & B made a strategic shift in December 1998 when it sold a 64 percent stake in C & H to an investment group headed by Citicorp Venture Capital Ltd. The company received about $80 million in proceeds but still posted a nearly $20 million loss on the sale. In December 1999 A & B's subsidiary structure was altered when ABHI was eliminated through its merger into the parent company. The former subsidiaries of ABHI were now direct subsidiaries of A & B. Another significant change to the food operations came in 2000 when the company decided to close one of its two sugar mills on Maui.
On the transport side, Matson in September 1998 entered into a joint venture with Saltchuk Resources, Inc. and International Shipping Agency, Inc. to operate an ocean shipping service between Florida and Puerto Rico. Matson Logistics Solutions, Inc. was formed in 1998 to begin offering supply and distribution services. In July of the following year, Matson formed a joint venture with Stevedoring Services of America that combined the companies' terminal and cargo handling services operations in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, and Seattle. At the same time, Matson Intermodal was being rapidly expanded, including through the acquisition in 2000 of Paragon Transportation Group, an intermodal marketing firm based in Dublin, California, that was particularly strong in the California, Nevada, Montana, Oklahoma, and Michigan markets and was therefore able to bolster Matson's national coverage. In late 2000 the Pacific Coast shuttle service that was launched by Matson in 1994 was replaced by regular rail and truck service between Los Angeles and Seattle operated by Matson Intermodal.
The Hawaiian economy finally appeared to be entering into at least a period of moderate growth by 2000, and A & B's results reflected the better times. Revenues increased 7 percent, while earnings before exceptional items increased 15 percent. With the sale of the majority interest in C & H, the ocean transportation operations now dwarfed both the real estate and food sectors, having generated about 80 percent of 2000 revenues. A & B planned to continue to expand its transport operations and launched a $32 million program to substantially improve its main terminal in Honolulu at Sand Island. In real estate, a key initiative was the company's 1,045-acre residential-resort community in Poipu, Kauai, the plans of which called for more than 200 hotel rooms, 700 time-share vacation units, and as many as 3,000 residential units. A & B's troubled food operations received some good news in 2000 in the form of the first year of profitability for Kauai Coffee. The company was also investing $11 million into a new plant where sugarcane bagasse would be made into environmentally friendly composite panelboard. A & B was the last of Hawaii's Big Five companies to remain independent and based on the islands; its durability over more than 130 years of operation proved that a mainland address was not a prerequisite for long-term success.
Principal Subsidiaries: A & B Development Company; A & B Properties, Inc.; East Maui Irrigation Company, Limited; Hawaiian Duragreen, Inc.; Kukui'ula Development Company, Inc.; Matson Navigation Company, Inc.; Matson Intermodal System, Inc.; Matson Logistics Solutions, Inc.; Matson Services Company, Inc.; Matson Terminals, Inc.; McBryde Sugar Company, Limited; Kauai Coffee Company, Inc.; Kahului Trucking & Storage, Inc.; Kauai Commercial Company, Incorporated.
Principal Divisions: Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company.
Principal Competitors: CSX Corporation; Sauce Bros., Inc.; Aloha Cargo Transport, Inc.; Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines LLC.
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Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 40. St. James Press, 2001.