No more auctions as sugar plantation works to sell the last of its equipment

This truck still was at Puunene Mill on Thursday as buyers of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. equipment claimed items bought at auction. Last month’s auction was the last time the old sugar company’s assets will be on the auction block. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

This truck still was at Puunene Mill on Thursday as buyers of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. equipment claimed items bought at auction. Last month’s auction was the last time the old sugar company’s assets will be on the auction block. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Last month’s auction of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s mill equipment will be the last time the former company’s assets go on the auction block, company and auction officials said Tuesday.

“We will continue to work with prospective buyers of the mill and power plant equipment until the remaining assets are sold. We do not plan to hold any additional auctions,” said Darren Pai, spokesman for Alexander & Baldwin, the parent company of the now shuttered HC&S.

Mark Weitz, co-managing partner of GA Global Partners, an auction house assisting with the sales, said the project to sell off mill equipment was “just about completed.”

Since HC&S’s sugar operations shut down in December, three auctions have been held to sell off vehicles, including Tournahaulers, heavy equipment, pickup trucks, laboratory scales, turbogenerators, pumps and motors. In the first auction in January, hundreds of would-be buyers gathered at the Maui Beach Hotel or placed bids online. The second auction in February was held online. The final auction held June 20 to 22 was also only online, but it contained many large portions of the mill operation equipment such as boilers and generators, unlike the other two auctions that included vehicles, parts and equipment.

In the last auction, “a good amount of equipment” was sold to international buyers, Weitz said.

“In total, we offered up several (hundred) items over the course of the recently concluded three-day auction. Removal for the small items has just about concluded, and for some of the larger items that were sold, some of that equipment will in fact take months to deinstall and ship,” Weitz said in a email on Tuesday.

On Monday, some of the last Tournahaulers used to carry tons of sugar cane were taken from the Puunene Mill to Kahului Harbor.

The heavy vehicles were scheduled to be shipped to Los Angeles, where they will be put on lowboys and trucked to coal mines in the Midwest, said Brian Pestana, owner of Honolulu-based Bob’s Equipment, which was contracted to ship them.

Pai said there were two more Tournahaulers at the mill. (A story on Page A3 Tuesday incorrectly said the last two Tournahaulers were being shipped off-island on Monday, due to information provided to The Maui News.)

Weitz said that in the three auctions, there were nearly 1,000 buyers, many from all over the world and in Hawaii.

The 145-year-old HC&S closed in December, with A&B citing losses of $30 million in 2015 and projections of further red ink. The company’s 675-member workforce has been whittled down to a handful of workers employed by A&B. The company is turning to diversified agriculture for its 36,000 acres of former sugar cane fields.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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