MAUI’S BIGGEST EMPLOYER LOOKS TO SURVIVE

Editorial

MAUI’S BIGGEST EMPLOYER LOOKS TO SURVIVE

The Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui (Mar. 28) – Thirty-five years after it became Maui Land & Pineapple Co., ML&P is entering a new phase of a corporate and agricultural evolution that can be traced back to 1909. As the owner of nearly 30,000 acres of Maui, most of them on the west side, and the employer of 1,600 Mauians, the future of the island's biggest home-based company is important to everyone on the island.

Maui Pineapple Co. was formed in 1930, taking over the pineapple division of Maui Agricultural Co. in addition to handling the pineapple grown by Haleakala Ranch. Maui Pine purchased the Kahului cannery at the same time. Ten years later, Maui Pineapple Co. became the first in the islands to set up a voluntary retirement system for its workers. Maui Pine merged with Baldwin Packers in 1962 and closed the Lahaina cannery.

Maui Pineapple Co. operated as an agricultural subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin through July 1969 when the A&B majority shareholdings were purchased or traded for by the Cameron family. Patriarch J. Walter Cameron was the son-in-law of longtime Maui Ag plantation manager Harry A. Baldwin. J. Walter Cameron's son, Colin, became the first president of Maui Land & Pineapple Co., a name created in September 1969 "to reflect its new emphasis," according to a statement by Colin Cameron.

Resort development at Kapalua was being planned by 1965 and in 1975, Kapalua Land Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of ML&P, announced it was building a $250 million hotel, condominium, golf course complex on 579 acres along three miles of shoreline. In addition to Kapalua, ML&P also built the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, which opened in 1973.

Last Thursday, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Cole told ML&P employees about the company's plans for the future. It will include smaller-scale agriculture aimed at specific markets and exploiting high-value products ranging from tourism to food to housing.

Taking his plans to the employees and talking to the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers union early in the process was a laudable step. Cole's plan is visionary and likely to provoke skepticism, but major advances require vision, tenacity and cooperation from the company's work force and the community.

April 1, 2004

The Maui News: www.mauinews.com

 

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