New own­er­ship an­nounced for Hali‘imaile Pineap­ple Co.

Com­pany ac­qui­si­tion en­sures Maui Gold pineap­ple will con­tinue

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - The Maui News

The LeVecke fam­ily has pur­chased Hali‘imaile Pineap­ple Co., grower of Maui Gold pineap­ple, ac­cord­ing to an an­nounce­ment.

The pur­chase for an undis­closed amount means pineap­ple will con­tinue to grow on Maui. The com­pany’s 56 em­ploy­ees will con­tinue to work un­der the new own­er­ship.

In 2009, Maui Land & Pineap­ple Co. shut down its cen­tury-old pineap­ple plan­ta­tion. A year later, for­mer Maui Pineap­ple em­ploy­ees cre­ated Maui Gold Pineap­ple Co.

On March 1, mem­bers of the LeVecke fam­ily, own­ers of Hali‘imaile Dis­till­ing Co., ac­quired Hali‘imaile Pineap­ple Co., which does busi­ness as Maui Gold Pineap­ple Co. The pur­chase was part of the con­tin­ued growth of the dis­tillery’s brands, the an­nounce­ment says.

The LeVecke fam­ily op­er­ates the LeVecke Corp., based in Mira Loma, Calif. It’s a whole­sale dis­trib­u­tor of beer and wine and rec­ti­fier of dis­tilled spir­its. It re­ports an­nual sales of more than $100 mil­lion.

On Maui, the com­pany’s brands in­clude Hana Bay Rum and Whalers Rum. Hali‘imaile Dis­till­ing Co. launched in 2010. Its flag­ship prod­uct is PAU Maui Vodka, which is made from Maui Gold pineap­ples. The com­pany de­vel­oped Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum with rocker Sammy Ha­gar.

The ac­qui­si­tion in­cludes Maui Gold’s base­yard in Hali‘imaile and 800 acres of fields.

LeVecke Corp. Pres­i­dent Joe LeVecke will con­tinue to over­see Hali‘imaile Dis­till­ing op­er­a­tions and take over Maui Gold op­er­a­tions.

“PAU Maui Vodka was de­vel­oped as the only vodka in the world made from pineap­ples,” LeVecke said. “My fa­ther, Tim, and un­cle Neil knew they cre­ated some­thing spe­cial. And Maui Gold pineap­ples are of the ut­most im­por­tance when talk­ing about the qual­ity of PAU Maui Vodka.”

The LeVecke Corp. has been one of the largest con­sumers of Maui Gold pineap­ple for more than a decade, and it was among the first to learn of the pineap­ple com­pany’s goal for a change of own­er­ship, the an­nounce­ment says.

LeVecke said his fam­ily saw own­er­ship as a “win-win” for all in­volved, in­clud­ing the fu­ture of pineap­ple on Maui.

“We saw an op­por­tu­nity to step up and take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep pineap­ple grow­ing on Maui,” he said. “With our dis­tillery in Hali-

imaile, we wanted to keep the agri­cul­tural life­style and tra­di­tions alive in our town, and we wanted the hard­work­ing em­ploy­ees to keep putting food on the ta­ble for their fam­i­lies.”

From a busi­ness stand­point, the LeVecke Corp. needed Maui Gold pineap­ples to con­tinue with vodka pro­duc­tion.

“Once we knew the farm op­er­a­tion could con­tinue for many more gen­er­a­tions, on a suc­cess­ful track with our shared busi­ness and fam­ily val­ues, we were all in,” LeVecke said.

Maui Gold pineap­ples will con­tinue to sup­ply sev­eral other big con­sumers, in­clud­ing Maui Pre­served, Maui Brew­ing Co. and MauiWine, which pro­duces three dif­fer­ent pineap­ple wines.

“We look for­ward to work­ing with the LeVecke Corp. in con­tin­u­ing to craft lo­cally grown and pro­duced wines from the Maui Gold pineap­ples,” said MauiWine Pres­i­dent Paula Hegele. “We are grate­ful for their com­mit­ment to Maui farm­ing and this ex­cep­tional pineap­ple.”

The pineap­ple brand is known for its ex­tra sweet­ness, low acid­ity and golden, juicy flesh. The va­ri­ety was de­vel­oped over 50 years with se­lec­tive cross­breed­ing by hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ists who crossed nat­u­ral pineap­ple va­ri­eties in search for the best-tast­ing fruit.

Hali‘imaile Dis­till­ing Co. is grow­ing its net­work of dis­tri­bu­tion, ex­port, re­tail, bars and restau­rants. The dis­tillery of­fers tast­ings and tours, and Hali‘imaile Pineap­ple Co. will con­tinue to of­fer pineap­ple tours with part­ner Maui Pineap­ple Tours.

STEVE BRINKMAN pho­tos

Fruit packer Marita Balala puts pineap­ples into boxes at a Maui Gold Pineap­ple Co. pack­ing ware­house in Hali­imaile. The LeVecke fam­ily has pur­chased Maui Gold for an undis­closed amount. The ac­qui­si­tion in­cluded the com­pany’s base­yard and 800 acres of...

Ulu­palakua Ranch’s Pardee Erd­man, one of the for­mer owner in­vestors of Maui Gold Pineap­ple Co., stands with Joe LeVecke, pres­i­dent of Maui Gold Pineap­ple Co. and Hali‘imaile Dis­till­ing Co.

STEVE BRINKMAN photo

Work­ers pick pineap­ples and place them on a con­veyor belt for haul­ing and pro­cess­ing. Maui Gold Pineap­ple’s 56 em­ploy­ees will con­tinue to work un­der the com­pany’s new own­er­ship, LeVecke Corp., based in Mira Loma, Calif.

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