American Savings Bank recently broke ground on its new headquarters. This week, Pacific Business News caught up with ASB’s president and CEO, Rich Wacker, on the significance of this turning point. We get more from PBN Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier.
ASB is now Hawaii’s third largest bank, with 52 branches and $6 billion in assets. But it wasn’t always so big. It grew over time through acquisitions. As a result, when Rich Wacker came on as president and CEO in 2010, the bank’s corporate headquarters were spread out across 12 different locations. That number has since been brought down to five, but that still has key people physically separated. When the new headquarters, now under construction next to Aala Park, opens in 18 to 24 months, it will put 600 people under one roof.
Wacker says this transition is essential because where the bank does have challenges, these concern internal communication. He envisions a space where people meet, face-to-face, instead of via email, to creatively and collaboratively move the bank forward.
Wacker himself has become a turn-around artist in a career that actually began with him as a shop foreman in mechanical engineering for GE. His move to financial services came out of a desire to better understand the decision-making of his own managers at GE, an interest that eventually landed him on the company’s internal audit staff. That lead to banking, including a stint helping restructure and recapitalize the Korea Exchange Bank in South Korea after the Asian financial crisis. That job was a natural step closer to Hawaii, where he and his family had always wanted to be.
Outside of his bank duties, Wacker keeps a busy schedule, focused on innovation. Among other things, he is chair of the Hawaii Business Roundtable, vice chair of the UH Foundation and serves on the board of Child & Family Services.