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Local Business Adapting to Changes with COVID-19

Pau Maui Vodka and Maui Gold Pineapple

Businesses in Hawaii are adopting various strategies to survive the current shutdown because of COVID-19. One approach is to retool their operations to make what Hawaii needs now.

The plan to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus was premised on the idea that there are only so many ventilators available at once for people who would be struck hardest by the disease. Nationwide, an effort is underway to manufacture ventilators quickly, using a design developed by the University of Texas at Austin. Two Maui tech companies, Maui Innovation Group and HNu Photonics, are putting their engineering and machining capabilities to use in manufacturing these ventilators.

Dan O'Connell, CEO of HNu Photonics, told Pacific Business News, "We believe we can ramp up production to 1,000 units per week to support Hawaii’s anticipated medical needs. It’s all happening quickly in response to the urgent situation."

It’s a very terrestrial effort for a company that normally builds high-tech packages for space missions.

Local brewers and distillers have shifted their production to alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Also on Maui, for example, Pau Maui Vodka and Maui Gold Pineapple have teamed up to produce five-gallon buckets in 250-gallon batches.

The first batch was donated free of charge to first responders and healthcare workers. And both Young Brothers and Landmark Logistics are covering the cost of transporting the sanitizer out of Maui. Going forward, they’ll be selling the sanitizer at cost, to keep the price low while generating enough revenue to keep at least some of its people out of the more than 200,000 in Hawaii who have filed for unemployment.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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