LANAI CITY - Lana'i Resorts announced Tuesday that it has changed its name to "Pulama Lana'i," which means "cherish Lanai," because the new name better reflects a mission of the company to take care of the island and its people, said Chief Operating Officer Kurt Matsumoto.
He made the announcement to more than 100 company employees at Lana'i Resorts offices in Lanai City, also known as "Central" to the locals.
"Calling it (Lana'i Resorts) a 'company' didn't do it justice," Matsumoto told The Maui News as workers had a bento lunch on the company grounds to celebrate the event. "We put a lot of thought behind the meaning of the name."
Albert Ranis (left) and Elton Atacador hold up a bag with the new Lana’i Resorts name, “Pulama Lana‘i,” at a company gathering in Lanai City on Tuesday. Workers were treated to a bento lunch, cake, music and prizes at the event.
The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo
Chief Operating Officer Kurt Matsumoto of Lana‘i Resorts appears at an event at company headquarters in Lanai City to announce the company’s new name and to bless renovations to the company headquarters.
The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo
Since Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison bought 98 percent of Lanai from Castle & Cooke about a year ago, Matsumoto said a number entities on the island have undergone name changes. Lana'i Resorts officials wanted a new name as well, one that would send a message to the community about how the new company would work with residents.
Pulama Lana'i has planned presentations to introduce the island community to the new name, Matsumoto added.
The company's legal name will remain Lana'i Resorts, but the company will be doing business as Pulama Lana'i, Matsumoto said.
In his speech to workers, Matsumoto said Pulama Lana'i will assist with education in the community from grade school to the University of Hawaii Maui College. The company will not run the schools but will help with programs, including trying to provide more programs and classes for adult education.
After his presentation, Matsumoto, a Lanai native, said living on Lanai has its challenges and that being a small island separated from the larger islands in the county and state limits funding for education. He said his company wants to provide some of that needed funding.
Matsumoto has been the public face of the company in Hawaii, heading the company's operations in the islands. He came to Lana'i Resorts after leaving his post as general manager of The Club at Kukuiula on Kauai. He previously oversaw the Manele Bay Hotel and The Lodge at Koele as vice president of resorts and administration for Lanai Co. Inc. under Castle & Cooke from 1991 to 2000.
Elton Atacador, a Lana'i Resorts - and now Pulama Lana'i - employee, who works in the transportation department, said he liked the new name.
"Our goal is to make Lanai sustainable by itself," he said. "It's one big ohana."
"Got to take care of the aina (land)," said Atacador, 38, a lifelong Lanai resident, reflecting on the company's new name.
As part of the celebration Tuesday, company officials distributed logo items reflecting the new name to employees. A bag had the words "Pulama Lana'i" and "Preservation. Progress. Sustainability" printed on it.
Fellow employee Albert Ranis, who works for Lanai Builders, part of Lana'i Resorts, said he, too, liked the name and the other changes done by Ellison.
"Was dragging," Ranis said of the island before Ellison's purchase. "Morale was down. People was leaving the island" because work was slow.
"With the new owner things coming nice again," Ranis said.
Since the purchase of more than 88,000 acres on the island, Lana'i Resorts has been presenting its plans and changes for the island, which include a new resort, a desalination plant and a new airport runway. Ellison also purchased Island Air and is reportedly finalizing a deal to purchase go! airlines.
The employees also joined in a blessing of the renovated Lana'i Resorts offices. Company employees said painting was among the improvements done.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.