New ownership announced for Hali‘imaile Pineapple Co.

Company acquisition ensures Maui Gold pineapple will continue

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 fields. STEVE BRINKMAN photos

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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 Haliimaile, 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.

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