UPDATE: Suisan Relocating Office Staff to Ben Franklin Building
***Updated 3:39 p.m. Monday, May 19.***
Suisan business and management employees were scheduled to move into new offices today, a spokeswoman for the company said.
Barbara Hastings said the staff is relocating to Suite 202 of the Hilo Ben Franklin Building at 333 Kilauea Ave.
A fire late Thursday destroyed the company’s offices located off the Kamehameha Avenue Extension near Hilo’s airport.
Suisan, a food wholesaler that also provides fresh seafood and produce, on Friday began routing sales and other calls through its Kona office. That will continue until the relocation to Kilauea Avenue is completed.
Meanwhile, demolition of the burned building was underway Friday afternoon.
***Updated 4:54 p.m. Friday, May 16.***
Glenn Hashimoto, president of the Suisan Group, issued a statement today saying the company’s food distribution operations will continue despite the overnight fire.
Although there might be some delays, no significant interruption of service is expected, Hashimoto said.
“While this building is an important part of Suisan, and housed its business and management offices, the company’s fleet of 33 trucks was not affected,” he said.
“Other parts of the Hilo operation and all of the Kona operation are operational.”
The company’s telecommunications are being temporarily routed through its Kona office which is currently handling all sales calls.
Customers who have placed orders can pick up the merchandise at the warehouse.
The building destroyed covered 16,000 square feet, a company spokeswoman said. Most of that was occupied by offices, although 5,000 square feet of that was used as an overflow warehouse.
Suisan still has operating warehouses holding 27,000 square feet of refrigerated goods and about 30,000 square feet of dry storage, she said.
The company has 175 employees on the Big Island.
Hashimoto took over the reins of the company from longtime executive Rex Matsuno in January. Matsuno remains as chairman of the Suisan board.
Hashimoto said he wanted to thank the Suisan ohana for its “quick pulling together to keep operations and deliveries moving.”
“No one was injured, so we are thankful,” he said. “We are resilient and will work things out.
“We must add that we are moved by the outpouring of support and kind words that have come to us from our customers, vendors, the business community, including competitors,” Hashimoto said. “Mahalo to our Hawaii Island community.”
He said the company and its insurance carrier will determine the extent of damage once the fire inspectors have finished their work.
Demolition of the burned building was already underway today.
At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown.