Stephen “Steve” Metter
MW Group, Ltd.
MW Group was founded in 1991 on a handshake between Michael Wood and myself. Over these 30 years the company has grown to a little over $1 billion in diversified real estate assets in Hawaii. These include several shopping centers and office buildings on Oahu and Maui, and some light industrial properties. We also built a self-storage brand, Hawaii Self Storage, with seven facilities, and six Plaza Assisted Living Communities for Hawaii seniors. The goal is clear: to care for and to protect our residents, tenants and renters. Neither of the principals came from money. Both of us paid our way through college and were supporting our parents at a relatively young age. We needed a lot of help to build our company and survive, and Bank of Hawaii has been a critical partner in the evolution of MW Group.
At its core MW Group is relationshipcentric, both internally and externally. Internally, we’re driven by family values and a deep sense of ‘ohana. Our talented leadership team of about 30 people has been with the company for an average of 16 years, and for that I’m very grateful.
We are driven by local values while maintaining an investment-banking focus, discipline and metrics. BOH understands these metrics and how to measure them, which has made them a wonderful long-term partner, and they’ve also provided us with guidance along the way. We are grateful to have deeply integrated relationships with BOH, fostering creativity and improving overall performance. They are constantly helping us to address short-term needs and long-term growth. They are very proactive, always thinking about what could be coming around the corner, and they are constantly dialoging not only between CEOs, or between the heads of our real-estate section, but also extending throughout the organization. There are a lot of peer-to-peer ideas that are shared.
Everything we’ve done together has contributed to a long-term relationship that benefits all involved. They have always been a partner with principles. They’ve always been looking for ways to create value.
During the different market cycles, BOH has always been very proactive in coming to us with innovative ways to refinance our assets. For example, during the financial crisis we had some loans maturing and BOH provided a thoughtful and creative solution leading to the purchase of Kapolei Self Storage West.
Most recently, we entered a partnership with BOH to build our newest self-storage facility on their property on Dillingham Blvd., on Oahu. The bank provided financing for the repurposing of an existing building and a ground up five-story facility that opened Sept. 2021. We had to work together on the project because their newest Iwilei Branch is on the same lot. The final product represents the best efforts of both organizations.
I have a relationship with Peter Ho that’s very deep. I appreciate his commitment and absolute focus on community, his ability to transform and modernize the bank, and the leadership lessons that he’s shared during that process. And he’s produced exceptionally strong results, which is comforting as a partner. You want your bank to be in a strong and stable position, and BOH is clearly very strong and has consistently ranked at the very top of regional banks.
I appreciate our relationship officer, Sr. EVP Guy Churchill, for being both strategic and tactical. Guy helps us understand what structures may be available so that when it comes time for implementing, we are well-versed when we utilize products like a floating rate loan or a credit facility. We’ve done some very complex credit facilities, and he does an excellent job at advising us, identifying all the options, and making sure that he’s providing us with all the variations.
At the core of MW Group is ‘ohana, our community, and support for all of our stakeholders. All our executives and managers serve the community on boards or through direct voluntary service; we’ve never had to make this a requirement because it’s inherent in their individual and collective commitments.
MW’s success has enabled us to give back in other ways. My business partner, Mike Wood, donated $1.2 million to build Ho‘omalu O Na Kamali‘i, a safe haven for abused and displaced children entering the child welfare system. The home opened in Maili, Oahu, in 2009, and he has also been funding its operations through regular contributions to his $8 million 20-year pledge. In addition, MW Group, Plaza Assisted Living and Hawaii Self Storage provide regular monetary support through scholarships, athletic sponsorships and other community donations.
BOH has the resources to address virtually any growth situation in our marketplace. And they have the depth and banking experience to underwrite it. They also have a commitment to relationships to ensure that they’ll fully vet and fully understand the borrower’s requirements so that they can pair up the appropriate credit and banking solutions.
No matter what’s happening in the macro-economy—whether it’s a financial crisis, or a Japanese financial crisis, or good times, or COVID—Bankoh has always been there. Through all these different cycles, Bankoh has helped us grow. We can always count on Bank of Hawaii.
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