Maui Pine eliminates another 100 jobs


POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. said yesterday that it is cutting 100 positions at its Kapalua Resort and its corporate headquarters in Kahului.




Paring back

        Employees: Eighty-seven will be laid off from the company's Kapalua Resort, and 13 will be eliminated from the corporate headquarters.

Expected savings: $7 million in annual operating expenses.


Salary reduction: The company instituted a 10 percent reduction in salary for all of its remaining employees, matching a cut taken previously by senior managers and all employees in the company's agricultural division on Jan. 1.


Source: Maui Land & Pineapple Co.


It is the company's third mass layoff in less than two years, as a slumping economy impacts all of its primary business divisions.

The company also instituted a 10 percent reduction in salary for its remaining employees, matching a cut taken by senior managers and agricultural workers on Jan. 1.

Eighty-seven employees will be laid off from the company's Kapalua Resort, and 13 will be eliminated from the corporate headquarters, accounting for 12.6 percent of the overall work force of 795 employees.

Prior to the layoffs, 435 people were employed at Kapalua.

The job eliminations, salary reductions and other actions are expected to save $7 million in annual operating expenses.

The layoffs come less than a year after the company laid off 274 employees in July 2008 in an effort to stem losses from rising energy and operating costs - the largest Maui layoff in recent memory. MLP laid off 120 employees in June 2007 after closing its pineapple canning operation to focus on Hawaii and mainland fresh pineapple sales.

“;Like so many companies around the world, the unprecedented economic environment requires us to make very difficult choices,”; Warren Haruki, executive chairman, said in a statement. “;With forecasts for fewer tourists, a tough real estate market, and tight financing for the next several years, we need to be prudent and move MLP to a more competitive cost structure.”;

Affected employees will receive their full pay and benefits through Sunday, after which they will receive a package based on their years of service.

MLP said it is requesting that the laid-off employees be given priority consideration for about 150 new positions to be filled prior to the opening of the Kapalua Spa and Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences at Kapalua Bay early this summer.

MLP said earlier this month it secured the funding needed to complete construction of the 146-unit Ritz-Carlton after investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and cut off funding.

MLP has three basic business divisions: The Kapalua Resort, pineapple operations and real estate holdings, MLP spokeswoman Teri Freitas Gorman said.

“;None of those divisions are generating profitable cash flow,”; she said.

MLP is also closing and consolidating offices, eliminating nonessential travel, cutting outside contractor support, trimming operating budgets and delaying some projects.

Ryan Markham, spokesman for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the state is arranging to send a rapid-response team to assist affected workers with issues such as medical benefits and job training. The company said it also will provide employees with outplacement support to assist them in transitioning to another position.

Markham was unsure whether other Maui businesses would be able to rehire the workers.

In November, the company announced that David Cole, chairman, president and chief executive, would step down at the beginning of this year. The news came with the release of its third-quarter $8.7 million loss.

For the first six months of 2008, the company reported a net loss of $468,000, or 6 cents a share, compared to net income of $12.2 million, or $1.59 a share, for the same period in 2007.