Numbers say a lot about the impact of Young Brothers in Hawaii.
Start with 119. That’s how many years it’s been doing business in the Aloha State.
It has 370 employees statewide; eight barges, six tug boats and recently invested $80 million in four new tug boats. It has 26 Kauai employees and has 104 barges that come here each year. It ships about 720 cars per month from Honolulu to Kauai.
For Kauai specifically, it shipped 8,792 cars, 8,243 containers of refrigerated and dry goods, 13 canoes last year alone —and that’s just a select few of items transported. Two barges each week, Tuesday and Friday, come to Kauai.
And it ships pretty much everything, too. Cattle, canoes and construction equipment come to the Neighbor Islands. Hotel supplies, water, emergency relief supplies and telephone poles arrive via Young Brothers.
Sandra Larsen, Young Brothers vice president of legal and government affairs. “We’re serving your average, everyday person.”
If there’s an emergency, Young Brothers responds, she said.
“We mobilize pretty quickly to try to help our neighbor island communities that way,” Larsen said.
Young Brothers is, by all means, doing well and critical to the state’s economy. Almost every Hawaii resident relies on Young Brothers’ water carrier service.
But there is a problem.
It’s not with the shipping or services or investments.
It is this, said Larsen: The majority of people in Hawaii have no idea who Young Brothers is or what they do.
And that’s what recently her to Kauai from their headquarters in Honolulu.
“We’re trying to reconnect to the Neighbor Islands,” she said.
Young Brothers supports the communities where its employees are – and they are pretty much everywhere in Hawaii. It is committed to their customers and to the islands. It is the only water carrier that goes to Lanai and Molokai.
“We want to re-enforce how important Young Brothers is ,” Larsen said.
Young Brothers, she said, connects Hawaii as the state’s reliable and just-in-time interisland tug and barge company.
Under the new leadership of President Joseph Boivin, Jr. and Larsen, the company just garnered a successful rate increase, 4.3 percent.
This is their first significant rate increase in six years. This decision from the PUC will enable the company to keep pace with increasing costs and to reinvest in the business, Larsen said.
And that’s a benefit to the state.
“Young Brothers is very critical in terms of shipping goods, everyday, back and forth,” she said.
Another thing people don’t realize, she said, is that Young Brothers is “very different” from Matson, Inc.
“Everybody kind of tends to put us in the same category,” she said.
Young Brothers, whose parent company is Foss Maritime, is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission; Matson is not. Young Brothers operates strictly within the Hawaiian Islands and ships almost anything. Matson’s reach stretches to the mainland and beyond in the Pacific Ocean.
But Young Brothers is always looking for way to increase its business. It made recent changes including the purchase four new tugboats, two of which are in service now, in order to better serve the community. These new tugs, $80 million, are more fuel-efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly and will increase reliability.
“It’s definitely a commitment. It’s showing we’re commited to the state,” she said.
There is one thing Young Brothers doesn’t have much of: Job openings. Not even the frequent rough ocean conditions seem to turn anyone away from working for them.
“The interesting thing about our company is generations of families have worked for us, but because of that, there’s not a lot of turnover,” Larsen said.