William Matson became well established in the Hawaiian trade. His small fleet of sailing vessels shuttled back and forth between Hilo and San Francisco. Matson recognized the potential of oil. He convinced Hawai‘i’s plantation and sugar mill owners to switch from coal and bagasse (sugar cane waste) to oil.
Then, he converted some of his sailing flee into tankers to carry the oil to the Islands. In 1903, he formed the Monarch Oil Company and five years later bought the Buena Vista Hills property (Matson later renamed the area Honolulu Hills) and a year later (1910) created Honolulu Oil Company.