Dozens of former Lāna‘i residents have returned to the island to help chart its future, including Pulama Lānai’s COO. Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier, has more.
Pulama Lanai is the name of the company that manages the island of Lanai for its private owner, Larry Ellison. Since 2012, 34 Lanai residents, or former residents, have joined that company, including its COO, Kurt Matsumoto.
During his 1960s and ’70s childhood, pineapple was the island’s top employer. His parents worked for Dole, as did he during summers as a teenager. Like many Lanai children, Matsumoto left for college. He then pursued a career in hospitality on the Mainland, which prepared him for his first homecoming in the early ’90s, when pineapple had made way for tourism. He stayed for 10 years, ultimately managing both the Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay Hotel for the Four Seasons. Matsumoto returned a second time in 2012 as COO of Pulama Lanai following Ellison’ s purchase of the island from David Murdoch.
He’s now overseeing the reinvention of the island’s two resorts. Koele, especially, is being remade into a health and wellness retreat. In support of that, Ellison is bringing in a new company he formed, Sensei, to build a series of high-tech greenhouses on Lanai, which will also provide more tech-oriented job opportunities. Matsumoto says the goal is to grow millions of pounds of produce for Lanai and for export throughout Hawaii. Though, with the company’s emphasis on wellness, traditional measures don’t apply. Sensei aims to measure its output in pounds of nutrition.