What I Learned About My Employees

Yesterday, when I told my employees we have to shut down the farm, I said to let their supervisor know if they want to submit their name to work for the medical marijuana group that may lease some of our land (should they win a license).

This morning I learned that all of my workers are interested in working there.

We were already working on shutting down the farm when this medical marijuana group approached me, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first.

But knowing now that my workers all want to work there is significant to me. One of the workers has worked for us for 38 years, and another for 23 years. This isn’t just about me, it’s about all of us, and we don’t leave our friends behind. It’s sort of like when I was in Vietnam and the unspoken rule was that we all came home or no one came home.

I had told the medical marijuana group I would only consider leasing to them if they agreed to consider my workers for jobs first.

There’s no guarantee , of course, that any of this will happen. They would have to be granted a license from the state to grow and distribute medical marijuana. The application process is currently underway.

Now that I know all my employees want to work there, I’m going to do whatever I can to help them win that license, because that means I’m helping my workers get jobs.

Hawaii News Now just came out and interviewed me about our closure. There’s both an article and video at the link:

After 4 decades, Hawaii Island banana farm shutting down

Posted: Jan 07, 2016 5:19 PM HST Updated: Jan 07, 2016 6:38 PM HST

By Mileka Lincoln
HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow)

After nearly 40 years in business, Maunakea Banana Company and Hamakua Springs Country Farms is shutting down. President and owner Richard Ha informed his employees Wednesday.

“Every single person said they would like to stay until the end — and that kind of floored me, because I was very much willing to adapt and do whatever they wanted to do, because it’s after all them that’s being affected most,” Ha said.

Ha’s decision is the second major agriculture closure in as many days. On Wednesday, Alexander and Baldwin announced it would end its sugar plantation operations on Maui.

Farmers say rising production costs are cutting into already minimal profit margins, making it tougher to stay in business. Ha says the biggest culprit is oil prices….

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