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Loyalty & longevity

Martha Bagor is still going strong after a half-century at First Hawaiian Bank

By Allison Schaefers

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:55 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2014

Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.comMartha Bagor has worked at First Hawaiian Bank for 50 years. She is among more than 160 employees who have worked at least 40 years at the bank; of those, more than half are still working, according to Iris Matsu­moto, executive vice president of FHB's human resources division.

Martha Bagor, assistant service manager for First Hawaiian Bank's main banking region, has been on the job for more than a half-century and is still going strong.

"I've been here the longest of anyone still at the bank. I'm going on 51 years this year. I take it one day at a time, but I don't have any plans to retire yet," the 68-year-old Bagor said. "I enjoy working. It keeps me going."

While longtime employees often say they started as infants, in Bagor's case that tired joke is only a bit of a stretch. Bagor got her start at the tender age of 17, just after she graduated from Punahou.

"I was looking for a temporary job that would last until I went back to school," said Bagor, who had dreamed of working with animals. "Obviously, that didn't happen. I was the first woman to be hired as part of the mailroom."

Bagor found an unexpected niche in banking and worked her way up the management ranks into opportunities few women of her generation could have hoped to realize. In her colleagues and customers, she also found a lifetime supply of friends.

"I've made a lot of good memories here," she said. "I remember a whole lot of different moments. Every day has brought something new."

Bagor recalled the day in 1993 when First Hawaiian imploded the bank branch where she got her start as one of the most memorable. "It was very emotional to watch," she said. "We had a lot of fun in that old branch."

Bagor, who started before computers revolutionized banking, said she has experienced and made many other changes as the bank and the industry have progressed.

"It's important to keep learning so that the young people don't run circles around us," she said.

Bagor's dedication to her job stands out even at a company whose culture promotes longevity. Her time at the bank has been surpassed only by Jimmy Yee, who retired in 2008 after 67 years.

"Our long-service employees are the hallmark of our bank's success by sharing their institutional knowledge and continuing to build strong relationships with our customers and throughout the community," said Iris Matsu­moto, executive vice president of First Hawaiian Bank's human resources division.

More than 160 employees have worked at least 40 years at the bank, and most of them are still on the job, Matsu­moto said.

"Our 40-year-plus employees have shaped the foundation of First Hawaiian as we know it today, and we are fortunate that we have more than half of them still guiding the next generation of employees to perpetuate our core values," she said. "Our employees are truly what make First Hawaiian a great place to work."

When employees achieve 40 years of service, they are asked to join a "40-year club," which meets annually, said First Hawaiian Marketing Manager Susan Kam.

"We fly in retirees for this event," Kam said. "It's a chance for them to share stories, catch up and have fun." 

While Bagor said she enjoys the club gatherings and visiting with retirees, she's not ready to join their ranks.

"I really like this job," she said. "I like visiting with the customers and taking care of their needs. It's fun to see them grow." 

Karen Ray, a bank customer service representative who has worked with Bagor for 43 years, said Bagor is inspiring.

"To begin at the bottom and be where she is now is not common," Ray said. "She's a go-getter. We want her on the job as long as possible."

Vasi Penisini, a senior safe-deposit consultant who has worked at the bank for 23 years, said Bagor's positive attitude and loyalty are contagious.

"She's a great supervisor. She always sees the bright side of things," Peni­sini said. "She leads by example. God willing, I'll make more than 40 years, too."






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