To improve service for East Hawaii residents, the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA) will start development of a new office building in the heart of Keaau town on two acres recently acquired from W.H. Shipman, Limited. The relationship between HMSA and Shipman began three years ago when HMSA representatives started looking for land for new customer service, sales, and call center operations.
“This is an investment in the health care infrastructure on Hawaii Island,” says Steve Van Ribbink, HMSA chief financial and services officer. “HMSA opened its first Hawaii Island office in 1946. Since then, we’ve grown our operations to include 45 employees in three separate offices.” The choice of Keaau shows a continuation and even acceleration of job growth in Puna, noted Shipman President Bill Walter.
“What we’re seeing are good quality jobs coming to Puna, which is important for Keaau and Puna,” said Walter, pointing to the Department of Education school complex and Big Island Bio Diesel as recent examples. “HMSA was looking for a location that would be readily accessible and have the convenience of a small town.”
The new two-story building will be located at the corner of Old Volcano and Keaau-Pahoa Roads. Shipman has retained the front portion of the property to provide retail services. Parking for both the HMSA office and future retail space will be accessible from both Old Volcano Road and the entrance to the Shipman gym. The 20,000 square-foot complex is expected to be ready for business by the end of 2014 and the building’s design will be reminiscent of the plantation era, with gabled roofs, ample overhang, and breezeways.
“HMSA embraced our desire to have plantation-style buildings in the village,” Walter said. “They understand that what we’re trying to build here is something that will have a lasting and memorable character to it, something that will draw people in and create a destination,” Walter said. “We see HMSA as a company that is going to contribute to building a family-oriented, health-oriented, and friendly, livable community.”
HMSA is a nonprofit, mutual benefit society founded in Hawaii in 1938. It is governed by a community board of directors that includes representatives from health care, business, labor, government, education, clergy, and the community. HMSA is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
W.H. Shipman, Limited, is a family-owned company vested in Keaau with more than 16,000 acres and a 130-year history in Puna. Engaged in land stewardship, commercial/industrial development and leasing, including the lease of agricultural lands, W.H. Shipman, Limited’s, growth is at the pace of East Hawaii’s. Building character and quality companies are chief concerns for W.H. Shipman, Limited.