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New company preserves pineapple operations on Maui

By Staff | Jan 7, 2010

"I want to thank the individuals who remained committed to finding an innovative way to revive pineapple operations on Maui. Their collaborative efforts will help preserve an important part of our culture and heritage, while charting a new course for the future of the pineapple industry in Hawaii," said Gov. Linda Lingle.

HALIIMAILE — Five former Maui Pineapple Company executives teamed up with Pardee Erdman of Ulupalakua Ranch to assume pineapple operations from Maui Land & Pineapple Company Inc. (ML&P) as of Jan. 1, 2010.

The new company, Haliimaile Pineapple Company Ltd. (HPC), will continue to grow and market fresh pineapple under the established Maui Gold Brand.

HPC has purchased and licensed key assets and leased farm land, equipment and buildings from ML&P, with plans to serve the Hawaii market.

"We are proud to continue the 100-year legacy of pineapple on Maui," said Darren Strand, president and CEO of the new company.

"Haliimaile Pineapple Company brings new hope for a new year by immediately saving 65 agricultural jobs with an expectation of adding more in the future."

Key shareholders and directors in the new company include Pardee Erdman, owner of Ulupalakua Ranch; Doug Schenk, former president of Maui Pineapple Company; former vice presidents of MPC, Doug MacCluer and Ed Chenchin; and current operating directors for MPC, Darren Strand and Rudy Balala.

The group brings more than 150 years of combined expertise in growing and packing premium pineapple on Maui.

HPC will consolidate its plantation, fresh fruit packing facility, cold storage and shipping operations in Haliimaile to maximize efficiency and product quality. One-thousand acres of prime farmland will be cultivated in Haliimaile.

The company will continue to provide high-quality fresh pineapple to local hotels, restaurants and supermarkets while increasing its direct-to-consumer business.

"We are grateful to Haliimaile Pineapple Company for saving these jobs to make this a happy New Year for so many Maui families," said Willie Kennison, Maui division director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

"We thank everyone who helped make this happen, including ML&P, Pardee Erdman and HPC’s new management team for working with us to keep our people employed in the midst of this recession."

HPC will hire existing ML&P employees, and the ILWU will continue to represent the company’s workers.

"We are gratified to see the continuation of pineapple farming on Maui," said Warren H. Haruki, chairman and interim CEO of ML&P.

"The new company’s simplified business model and targeted local market, along with the flexibility and cooperation of the ILWU, are key ingredients for their future success. ML&P is committed to doing all we can to help Haliimaile Pineapple Company succeed."

Mayor Charmaine Tavares was pleased with the announcement.

"I am extremely grateful to the company for their commitment to continue Maui Gold pineapple on Maui. I was excited to hear that nearly 70 employees will retain jobs associated with Haliimaile Pineapple Company, and I’m confident that the new company will find success," she said.

"The company founders, shareholders and directors are to be commended for their work in making this happen. Since first learning about this effort, I’ve been very excited about the possibilities. The fact that jobs are saved and pineapple farming continues is absolutely great news for our county."

Gov. Linda Lingle said the formation of Haliimaile Pineapple Company is welcome news.

"I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than with preservation of 65 agricultural jobs and the prospect of creating more jobs for our residents in the long-term. The new company and the ongoing cultivation of pineapple on Maui will help stimulate our economy and also inject a boost of confidence in what has been a challenging year," Lingle commented.