article from 1989/90 by
Bob MacGregor: A Profile Travel, Entrepreneur, Polo Enthusiast
To bear up under loss, to fight the bitterness of defeat and
the weakness of grief, to be a victor
over anger, to smile when tears are close, to resist evil men
and base instincts, to hate hate and to love love, to go on when it
would seem good to die, to seek ever after the glory and the dream,
to look up with unquenchable faith in something evermore about to
be; that is what man can do.....and be so great.
A Taipan Creed
Those words typify Bob MacGregor, Honolulu businessman, entrepreneur
and sportsman and this year's recipient of the Royal Taipan Society's
"Spirit of Hawaii" award honoring him for his great contribution
MacGregor, president and co-founder of the Waimanalo Polo Club,
has played polo for more than 30 years - and started past the age
of 40! After traveling all over the world with mallet bag in hand,
as well as playing polo regularly in Hawaii, MacGregor and fellow
businessmen and polo aficionados, Enrique Zobel and Mike Sheehan,
leased a 25-acre site from the state of Hawaii in 1986 and established
the Waimanalo Polo Club on the windward side of Oahu. Now in his early
70's MacGregor plays there every Saturday, from mid-March to late
October, on the verdand field at the base of the magnificent Ko'olaus.
His interest in polo began in 1958 when he and his daughter,
Roberta, went horseback riding in Kapiolani Park, which was the center
of Hawaii polo after World War II. He met some players, stick-and-balled
a bit, and his love affair with the sport began.
"Since 1958, polo has been my only sport and my only hobby
- except for my work." MacGregor said.
MacGregor's work is travel, and he has been in the forefront
of almost every aspect of that industry. He currently divides
his time between International Travel Services, Ltd. and Bob MacGregor's
Tradewind Services, Inc. both of which he is president and founder.
MacGregor has led a fascinating life, filled with excitement
from his earliest years. Born in Denver in 1915, he was soon introduced
to travel. His father John Douglas Macgregor was a Scotsman who came
to Texas to become a cowboy. He later became a railroad engineer and
then a vice president of Pan Am. Because of his strong business sense
and ability to speak Spanish, the elder MacGregor negotiated Pan Am's
mail contracts throughout Central and South America and flew the first
airmail trip from Miami to Panama with Lindbergh in 1927.
The family moved to New York, and Bob graduated from Columbia
College in 1935 with a liberal arts degree. Following in his father's
footsteps, he went to work for Pan Am for $50 a month.
"After six months I did so well, they raised my salary
to $75 a month and sent me to Mexico. I worked there and in Panama,
and when the China Clipper opened up the Pacific, they sent me to
Manila because I spoke Spanish," he said.
It was in Manila that he met his wife, Emalita. They soon were
parted for four years, because the war broke out while Bob was opening
a new operation in Singapore, and Emalita had stayed in Manila. Getting
out of Singapore after the war began was like an Indianda Jones adventure...fleeing
the Japanese, thumbing a ride on a Pan Am Clipper, crash landing in
Bermuda, and eventually landing in New York in 1942.
"Then the Pacific opened up, and Pan Am became a part
of the Naval Air Transport Service,"
he said. "I was a commissioned lieutenant junior grade
in the Navy so I could work on Naval bases."
He opened a base for Pan Am on the Brisbane River in Australia,
and then at the time of the Guadalcanal Invasion, was sent to Noumea,
New Caledonia and the to New Hebrides.
soon opened a little office in Waikiki in what is now the Outrigger
Hotel, and established an incoming department called Trade Wind Tours
which he operated until its sale in 1986.
"In 1951 at the end of the Korean War, the opportunity
to begin the Pearl Harbor cruises came up and I allied myself with
a couple of sailors," he said.
Hence, Hawaiian Cruises Ltd. was founded. Although the company
has since been sold, MacGregor still retains a 10 percent interest
In 1953, he started a motorcoach company on the Big Island
of Hawaii, and in 1955 a motorcoach company on Oahu called Trade Wind
Transportation which was later sold to Greyhound.
In 1959, with the advent of jet aircraft and the establishment
of Hawaii as a state (two major events that would dramatically change
Hawaii's travel industry), Trade Wind merged with Inter-Island Resorts,
leading to a rapid growth of the firm.
MacGregor soon opened mainland offices and created a variety
of tour programs, including charters, which he ran in partnership
with Rene Pouteau. MacGregor then turned his attention to group business
and established a convention department.
As for his future in the travel industry, MacGregor is happy
with things just the way they are. "From my point of view, I'm
back where I started - in the outgoing business. I've gone full circle
-from the outgoing business to a vehicle to move large groups. I started
when there were only three hotels in Waikiki and then expanded into
limousines, boats, buses....I've done it all," he said.
Polo is still MacGregor's principal interest, although the
feels his years of competitive polo are almost used up. "Unfortunately,
polo has become more of a spectator hobby for me," he said. "There
aren't many who play competitively at age 75. Just recently I've notice
my reactions are slowing down."
"Polo is my love though, and I will always be involved
in some way," he added. "That's why I'm interested in helping
the growth and maintenance of the Honolulu Polo Club. Waimanalo is
horse country - there are probably 1,000 horses here, yet we're close
to the Honolulu population. I'm always interested in introducing new
players to polo."