Pineapple People

May, 2006

The best business stories are people stories. This may seem strange to a cohort hungry for bottom-line numbers, but it’s true. So, in our best, magazine storytelling tradition, this month Jacy L. Youn looks, not only at where the commodity pineapple industry is headed (out), but what it means for the people it has touched.

Many local business leaders have worked either in Hawaii’s pineapple fields or canneries and those experiences have shaped who they are today. It’s a badge of honor I can’t claim. In high school, my first job was as a counter girl for the now defunct KC Drive Inn in Manoa (loved those waffle dogs and ono ono shakes). However, I know plantation life had a profound effect on my parents and grandparents and their value systems. No question; life on Hawaii’s plantations was dirty and hard. Still, there are valuable lessons we can draw from plantation life and the way people responded to it.

In a related story, Scott Radway asks Hawaiian leaders why it’s important to incorporate Native Hawaiian values into the workplace. Their answer? It’s good for business and it’s good for Hawaii as a whole. There’s even a nonprofit that’s gearing up to help companies do this for free.

Values of a different sort come into play in David K. Choo’s story of the evolving case law regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Companies had better take notice that one fanny pat can create a hostile work environment and may also be a misdemeanor offense. The State Supreme Court said so in 2004 in Arquero v. Hilton Hawaiian Villages.

Humility is a local value. So please permit me a slight lapse in humility, but I can’t contain my pride in our Hawaii Business team. At the recent Hawaii Publishers Association Pai Awards, Hawaii Business took top honors for the editorial feature, “50 Hawaii Icons.” Hawaii Business also won awards for “Dining with Dave,” our July 2005 cover and our December 2005 “Public People Private Passions.” It’s a validation from our industry that we are achieving our goal of excellence in serving you.

We think our readers value health and wellness, so we are providing a fun way for you and your company to prove us right. Go here and sign up for or nominate your company’s top executive for our “Fittest CEOs” contest. The number-loving cohort will be glad to know that there are proven bottom-line results for companies with healthier employees. Join other Hawaii executives in leading the way to a healthier Hawaii.


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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch