DAVID COLE

Episode 93

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David Cole – Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Maui Land and Pineapple Company

Maui Land and Pineapple Company was on a big turnaround after David Cole took over the helm almost two years ago. Incurring successive losses and over $50 million in debt, Maui Land and Pineapple was on the verge of collapse—only to be rescued by David, who stated that the company would be profitable across all of its divisions by 2007.

David, who has a diverse background in business as an executive/investor, uses his broad experience to bring Maui Land back to life through a healthy balance sheet. His contributions also go well beyond the company to encompass the larger community, and more significantly, the environment. For over 20 years, David has been an active conservationist, playing important roles for such organizations as the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the American Farmland Trust.

Find out more about David’s transition from the high-tech and publishing industries to real estate and agriculture and how his experience from working with companies such as Ashton-Tate, NaviSoft, Ziff Communications and AOL has molded him to become an indispensable figure in one of Hawaii’s oldest and largest companies.

David Cole shares with Greater Good Radio his thoughts on community involvement and environment stewardship, and why these serve as the core values of Maui Land and Pineapple. David also talks about team building and why it is important for a group to share not only the same vision, but also the same values.

A very holistic interview, this is a good-listen for business leaders and corporate employees alike. Click on the link and hear more from David Cole; executive, investor and philanthropist.

BIO:
David Cole has an eclectic background as an executive, investor and philanthropist.

As an executive he has led software, publishing and consumer products companies, including Ashton-Tate, NaviSoft, Ziff Communications, and Sunnyside Farms. In addition, he served as a group executive at AOL where he directed the company’s corporate strategy, local online services, acquisitions, and international operations.

As an investor, David organized the Cole Gilburne Fund in 1986 and pioneered investments in multimedia authoring software with Macromedia, local area networks with TOPS, and remote access software with Shiva Corporation. He also led an investment group that acquired Twin Farms in 2002, a five star resort in Barnard, Vermont.

As a philanthropist, he has been active for over 20 years in conservation, including playing leadership roles as a director of The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and the American Farmland Trust.

Under his leadership, Maui Land & Pineapple is in the midst of a turnaround – going from continuing losses and over $50 million in debt when he was tapped to lead the company in 2003, to a healthy balance sheet and improving prospects in every business segment. He has stated that the company will be profitable across all three divisions – agriculture, development and resort operations in 2007.

An organic farmer himself, David has revitalized Maui Land & Pineapple’s agriculture division with an emphasis on its fresh fruit business under the newly launched Maui Gold brand. In fact, the company’s recent investment of $20 million in a state-of-the-art fresh fruit packing system represents the largest investment in Hawaiian agriculture in many years.

David’s innovative approach to development includes a visionary project called Pulelehua – a new community that includes affordable, market and “gap income” housing on West Maui, and the state’s first truly sustainable community in Hali`imaile – a town that will generate energy, cleanse water, support diversified agriculture and serve as a living classroom for teaching sustainable methods to interested students worldwide.

In resort operations, David has moved to expand and reposition the Kapalua resort by adding an additional 1000 acres through the successful rezoning of Kapalua Mauka, commissioning a new private course by Tom Fazio, replacing the Kapalua Bay Hotel with a Exclusive Resorts / Ritz-Carlton Club beachfront oasis, and creating a vibrant new town center in the heart of the resort.

David currently serves as Chairman of The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, as Director of Grove Farm Co. Inc. on Kauai, Hawaii Superferry, Inc. in Honolulu, and Sesame Workshop in New York. He also serves on the Kamehameha Schools Board of Advisors.

A noted authority in sustainable development, organic farming and other topics, David is referenced in numerous books and articles, including “New Ideas About New Ideas” by S. White, “Dream Makers: Putting Vision and Values to Work” by M. Hunt, “Eat Here” by B. Halweil; as well as the New York Times, Washington Post, Gourmet and Town & Country, among many others.

Raised in Kailua, Hawaii, David earned a BA degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1976 and an honorary doctorate in 2005. He and his wife Maggie have four children and reside in upcountry Maui where he is currently planning his next organic farm.

Links:
Maui Land and Pineapple Company

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Episode 93