Agriculture: Paradise Flower Farm
Last Valentine’s Day, the owners of Paradise Flower Farms Inc. stopped to sell the roses: 12,000 stems, to be exact. Paradise Flower is a husband-and-wife-owned company and the largest distributor of flowers on Maui. Craig and Teena Rasmussen started the business 24 years ago on a 17-acre lot in Kula. Today, they employ 35 on a 50-acre farm that produces roses, orchids and tropical plants, including plumeria, pikake and tuberose. The latter grows year-round, something that the company’s owners hope business will do this year
Tuberose is extremely popular with stores on the U.S. mainland, Teena says. That’s great news for her and her husband, as they strive to diversify their customer mix. “We’ve saturated Hawaii’s market and now, we’re going to focus on U.S. mainland clients, particularly the West Coast,” Teena says. Still, the local market always will be the company’s primary customer. Paradise Flower is the exclusive, local supplier for Maui stores, including Safeway, Longs Drugs and Wal-Mart. Not only does it sponsor local nonprofit organizations, but it regularly supplies products for the MCI market (meetings, convention and incentive trips). Based on state data, the MCI travel market in Hawaii rose by 18.6 percent in 2000 but fell by 26.3 percent the following year. “We definitely know that a large group of businesses that disappeared this year were conventions and incentive groups – they buy lots of flowers for their tables and leis,” she says. She’s confident that market will come back. After all, every rose has its thorn.