DHX and a Two-Year Beard

Building a Business and a Community

DHX dependable hawaiian express logo

Dependable Hawaii Express (DHX) had finally gotten the word their president, Brad Dechter, had been waiting for: that piece of land in Honolulu’s Iwilei area, perfect for their warehouse, was theirs to buy. With his beloved Dodgers growing their beards as they pursued the World Series, Dechter decided to follow suit, skipping the morning shave until their much-needed Honolulu warehouse was built.

“My wife hated it and told me every chance she got,” Dechter says of his two-year odyssey, but he put those whiskers to good use. “I’d seen the homeless living nearby, and I wanted to do something.” He told all of his project partners — the bankers, lawyers, architects, engineers, builders, shipping and staffing firms—about his beard and encouraged them to make a pledge-per-inch that would go to address homeless issues.

And did they ever step up! Two years later, Dechter’s final measurement brought in over $50,000 from eleven partners, all of it going to The Salvation Army and Kahauiki Village. “I’m 66 years old with brittle hair, so it kept breaking,” Dechter says. “It could have been ever longer!”

The beard was a whim, born out of excitement about the new warehouse and rooted in superstition, much like his beloved Dodgers’ whiskers until they won. “The Dodgers still haven’t won, but we got a great building and did something good for the community,” Dechter says. “I lived with that beard every day, looking in the mirror, measuring it every month, reporting on it to our partners. It kept everyone involved and engaged.”

He’s adamant that he’ll never grow another beard. His wife put up with this one, but might not do it again. But he’s equally quick to acknowledge how much the process changed him. “I’ve lived an incredibly blessed life, and it’s time to start giving back, doing more,” he says. He recalls leaving home at 16 with a scholarship and support from University of Southern California. “Without that support, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Twenty-five years ago, DHX wrote their employee philosophy statement. Today, they are re-writing it, with community as part of their core values. “This experience is changing the way we do business,” Dechter says. “I’m not entirely sure how yet, what that will look like, but it’s changed us.”

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