Bob Yosaitis and I developed a business plan, completed a lengthy checklist of required items to conduct business in Hawaii and incorporated in April of 1998.
The checklist was pretty straight forward until you come to the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Airports Division (DOT-A). I had already worked in management positions for various aviation companies in Hawaii for 16 years before this new venture but BPA seems to come under "new rules".
Stanford Miyamoto was the manager of Honolulu International Airport (HNL) and I had worked with him in his previous positions at DOT-A. Stanford approved BPA's initial start up and granted approval to roll in a trailer to begin operations.
Shortly after our positioning the trailer, acquiring office equipment and hiring our initial staff we were summoned to meet with the Deputy Director of Transportation. Jerry Matsuda was appointed to his new position of Airports Administrator (Deputy Director of Transportation - Airports) just months earlier. Matsuda orchestrated the meeting to include a number of airport department heads and their staff along with Stanford Miyamoto, Airport Manager..
Bob and I along with Mi Kosasa from BPA waited in the large conference room with about a dozen or more DOT-A staff for Matsuda to arrive. Once he arrived he quickly came to the point of the meeting. The DOT-A has concluded after various meetings that BPA would not be allowed to operate at the airports in Hawaii. He stated that he just completed a meeting with Doug Ledet (Circle Rainbow Aviation), Lulu Miyasato ( Century Aviation) and Bob Fraker (Air Service Hawaii) and he concluded that the DOT-A would not allow a fourth company providing the same type of services. He stated that our operations could be detrimental to the existing companies. He further stated that two of the companies were behind in payment s to the DOT-A and our entry would make it more difficult for them to collect. He continued to let us know that the trailer approval should have never been allowed based on new rules and we need to remove it immediately
After listening to Matsuda's reasons BPA would not be allowed to operate, I responded first by saying I was surprised that he was making such a bold statement in front of such a large group. The airports in Hawaii all receive Federal funds and with that mandate competition. The State of Hawaii would be in violation of the CFR's and jeopardize receipt of millions of dollars.
Matsuda stated that he would allow us to operate in Honolulu but not on the neighboring islands. When I informed him that we have already secured the United Airlines contract in Lihue, Kauai (first direct flights since Hurricane Iniki -6 years earlier) he came back with... okay, Honolulu and Lihue but not any other location. Needles to say BPA continued to press forward but clearly understood it was not going to be easy.
BPA was confident in its goals... we understood the laws as written and complied accordingly and our standards were clearly higher than our competition. It was our high standards that made it difficult for DOT-A to find reasons to stop us. The competition was not compliant and that made it difficult for the DOT-A to support them The customers quickly recognized the new kids on the block for its professional services.
When we started BPA, we stated that we were starting the fourth fixed based operation to get back to two. Circle Rainbow Aviation was the first to drop out and Century Aviation followed a few years later. I had previously developed both of those companies and knew that the current leadership and expertise was not conducive to their success - ( a little more a little later - you can't make this stuff up)
The DOT-A continued to make things difficult but as we grew to be the largest refueling operation in the State of Hawaii it would become less of an issue.
Davis Yogi followed Jerry Matsuda as Airport Administrator with Brian Sekiguchi replacing Yogi. Each had there own unique perspective regarding BPA.
The start up at each island location had its own issues and I will share that on this page as well as others.
When the DOT-A gave BPA notice to remove its trailer it actually worked out for the better. It pushed us to take on larger space that we grew into very quickly. Pat Hart (Hart Properties) had the lease on the cargo facility and the second floor office space was available. We went from 600 sq. ft. to 1,500 sq. ft. BPA also took on a small hangar for our fuel truck and GSE maintenance as well as an area in the hangar next door for FBO guest services.