Saw a name from the past last week in a tiny Pacific Business News write-up. Seems that Peter Nicholas is retiring as executive director of Molokai Properties Ltd (MPL). According to this Nov. 18 PBN blurb, Singapore-based GuocoLeisure Ltd.–the international investment firm that owns MPL–has announced that Clay R. Rumbaoa, a former Castle & Cooke director of engineering and development for Lanai, will be taking over when Nicholas cashes out at the end of the year.
Nicholas, if you’ll recall, is something of a notorious figure in Molokai’s recent history. He was running the show back in March 2008 when Molokai Properties, stung by the island’s opposition to its proposed La‘au Point development plans, decided to shut down Molokai Ranch in its entirety.
Just like that, the Molokai Lodge, Kaupoa Beach Village, Kaluakoi Golf Course, Maunaloa Gas Station, Maunaloa Tri-Flex Theater and the cattle ranch itself were no more. In an instant, 120 people were out of work–a relatively huge number for the island, which has never really recovered. Indeed, the latest state labor stats for October show Molokai currently sports a 17.5 percent unemployment rate, more than four full percentage points higher than the same month last year.
“The decision,” Nicholas said in a statement at the time, “is purely a business one. For the past five years MPL has been working with Molokai community leaders and community members on developing and implementing a Master Plan for MPL’s property and the future of Molokai. Unacceptable delays caused by continued opposition to every aspect of the Master Plan means we are unable to fund continued normal company operations… We deeply regret to have taken this step as the main impact will be on our loyal employees.”
Like Nicholas said, business decisions are like that. But don’t you worry about Nicholas. “He will continue to oversee GuocoLeisure’s investment in Fiji,” PBN reported. Tough assignment, if you ask me.
PHOTO: Sanba38/Wikimedia Commons