From winning multiple awards to expanding our brand portfolio, from giving back to the community in impactful ways to watching our team go head-to-head in fun-filled competitions – 2023 was certainly a year to remember at Hawaiian Host Group!
Here’s a look back at some of our team’s 2023 highlights.
New year, new perk? You bet. As the new year kicked off, so did the newest perk of working at Hawaiian Host Group: an All Access subscription to MasterClass!
In a recent employee satisfaction survey, we found out that our team members want to learn new skills – both personally and professionally. With over 100 of the world’s best instructors and classes that are a unique blend of education and entertainment – MasterClass has proved to be the perfect platform to help us do that.
Our team has watched 58,257 MasterClass minutes year-to-date – that’s the equivalent of watching the entire Harry Potter movie series 49 times! We can’t wait to see our team members continue to grow and thrive thanks to this program.
KOHO Flagship Store Opening
After a successful year-long pop-up residency at Ala Moana Center, KOHO opened its first permanent boutique in February at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort with a traditional Hawaiian blessing.
The boutique on Kalakaua Avenue features exquisitely thoughtful details highlighting the natural elements of the Islands like in its pop-up location – and its signature bon bon customization bar, but now in a much larger and grander space.
Stay tuned on the brand’s future growth by following @kohochocolates on Instagram.
Women Who Mean Business Award: Michelle Leon-Guerrero
This year, our Chief Administrative Officer, Michelle Leon-Guerrero, was selected as one of Pacific Business News’ Women Who Mean Business Award honorees! For over 25 years now, this annual award has recognized women who excel in both business and community leadership.
Thank you, Michelle, for all you do at Hawaiian Host Group and congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!
Corporate Intrapreneur of the Year Award: Ed Schultz
Ed Schultz, our President & CEO was named the 2023 Corporate Intrapreneur of the Year by the Hawai‘i Venture Capital Association. This award recognizes a leader in the community who creatively challenges traditions and assertively makes changes in their company culture to ensure fellow employees in their environment and their field are engaged and provides the platform to be intrapreneurial.
Congratulations, Ed, and thank you for your innovative leadership at HHG!
Employee Appreciation Day
Who makes those chocolate-covered macadamia nuts? Hawaiian Host, Mauna Loa, KOHO? Indeed they do, but even more so, it’s the people behind our brands that make the magic happen.
That’s exactly why we hosted Appreciation Days for our teams at HHG’s Kea‘au and Honolulu manufacturing facilities. Thanks to these team members, we are able to share the Spirit of Hawai‘i – via our delicious products – with millions of people around the world.
Mahalo to our Kea‘au and Honolulu production teams for turning on your “Exceed Expectations” mode all year long. We are proud to have you on our team!
Trade Show Season
This trade show season, our team participated in 2 trade shows and 3 industry events, across 5 different cities. While repping Hawaiian Host and Mauna Loa with all of their delicious products, our team was unstoppable.
Participating in these events and trade shows gives us the opportunity to drive brand awareness of our iconic brands and hear the love from our buyers, vendors, and consumers across the industry.
Mahalo to our team members who worked so hard on bringing our brands to life at each of these events!
This year, we made a significant investment into 240,000 Hawaiian macadamia trees and 3 local brands. With the acquisition of MacFarms LLC, we officially brought the stewardship of MacFarms, Royal Hawaiian Orchards, and Kapua Orchards back to Hawai‘i.
Hawaiian Host Group is now the proud owner of a 4,000-acre Hawaiian macadamia orchard, as well as the state’s largest single macadamia farm. Both are located south of Kona on the Big Island. This acquisition has allowed us to expand our product offerings and continue to provide our customers with the best-quality products, while retaining great jobs in the state of Hawai‘i.
Read all about the acquisition and how we will continue to share the Spirit of Hawai’i with the world via this article on our blog.
Keiki Rise Partnership
Kids? At the office? It might sound crazy to some, but this year we hosted the young local entrepreneurs from Keiki Rise at our HQ in Honolulu. Keiki Rise is a program that was started by 15-year-old Coen Cadinha to support young entrepreneurs, like himself, with the right tools, resources, and connections.
As Hawaiian Host Group’s purpose is to make the Islands’ future flourish, we are excited to support this initiative with a few other partners, including Meli James of Mana Up, Alexis Akiona of LexBreezy, and our very own President & CEO, Ed Schultz.
Congrats to Coen on bringing together a full house of young entrepreneurs and mahalo to the keiki for joining the program!
After a successful first edition, we hosted our 2023 HHG Office Olympics. Imagine two days of fun, friendly, and fierce competition. HHG teams from Honolulu, Kea‘au, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and even the remote team participated in a number of challenges. All, to win the coveted trophy, a gold medal, and a lunch feast for the entire winning office.
The final ranking was tight, but our Remote team took home the gold this year. Some might say that it’s a little ironic for a remote team to win the Office Olympics, but it goes to show that it was a fair competition that any team could win – no matter its size, tenure, or office amenities.
Mahalo to all team members who took the time to participate. The sportsmanship and strong desire to win this year was truly next level, and we look forward to seeing everyone bring the heat again next year!
Most Innovative New Seasonal Product Award: Hawaiian Host Strawberries & Cream
Each year, the NCA recognizes industry-leading innovators driving key trends during the Sweets & Snacks Expo. We are thrilled to share that this year, Hawaiian Host’s limited-edition Valentine’s Strawberries & Cream White Chocolate Macadamias won the “Most Innovative New Seasonal Product Award.”
What started as a limited-edition SKU to test the market has proven to be a huge hit. We look forward to bringing Strawberries & Cream’s delightful mix of sweet decadence and tart tang to an even greater audience next year. Congratulations to all team members who worked on this product in one way or another!
Mauna Loa Ice Cream Truck & “Summer Scoop Tour”
For National Ice Cream Month in July, our Mauna Loa marketing team took Los Angeles by storm with their “Summer Scoop Tour” in a fully branded food truck. They handed out 3,000+ samples of our macadamia milk-based ice cream at a range of LA hotspots and retailers such as Abbot Kinney, Melrose Trading Post, Sprouts, and Whole Foods.
By playing island tunes and greeting guests with aloha, our team brought the Spirit of Hawai‘i to consumers in places they don’t usually expect it – like a parking lot, for example. Thanks to all of our team members who contributed to this campaign and its success!
The Arc of Hilo Partnership
This year we started a new community partnership with The Arc of Hilo, Hawai‘i County’s largest employer of adults with disabilities. This workforce is now managing the landscaping needs at our entire Mauna Loa facility and Visitor Center.
The Arc of Hilo’s workforce provides janitorial, landscape maintenance, and laundry services to 100+ community work sites on Hawai‘i Island. The nonprofit proudly pays out nearly $500K in annual wages to participants – helping these adults with disabilities achieve independence and self-direction.
We are proud to partner with The Arc of Hilo to provide these individuals with work experience and ultimately support our purpose; making the Islands’ future flourish.
Best Luxury Chocolates Made in Hawai‘i Award: KOHO
Each year, Honolulu Magazine sets out to establish the best food and drinks on Oahu. This year, KOHO was named the Best Luxury Chocolates Made in Hawai‘i winner!
KOHO is the newest brand of our Hawaiian Host Group portfolio, known for its beautiful and decadent bon bons and our tablets using 100% Hawaiian grown cacao from Oahu’s North Shore, macadamia nuts from Hawai’i Island, and other locally sourced ingredients.
Congratulations to the entire KOHO team on this win – from the amazing store staff, magic-makers in production, to the rockstar marketers. We can’t wait to see what’s up next for KOHO!
Digital Ready Hawai‘i Partnership
Free computer training and free laptops? You might be asking yourself, “What’s the catch?” For Digital Ready Hawai‘i, there is none. In an era where digital skills have become essential, Hawaiian Host Group is proud to partner with Digital Ready Hawai‘i, a local organization dedicated to bridging the digital divide in our state.
Digital Ready Hawai‘i’s founder, Ka‘ala Souza, is committed to enabling a resilient workforce, and promoting digital literacy & independence among Hawai‘i’s residents, especially kupuna (elders). Over the past several years, Ka‘ala has provided thousands of free computer classes and computers to participants of all ages throughout the state.
So far, our team has donated 13 refurbished HHG laptops and sponsored a “Computers 001” training at the Waimanalo Health Center. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Digital Ready Hawai‘i to upcycle our used hardware, and build a brighter, more connected future for Hawai‘i, where no one is left behind in the digital age.
Student Tour Season
Curious to learn how we run the #1 branded macadamia company in the world? The students from University of Manoa’s Financial Management Association, SHRM, Hawai‘i Student Entrepreneurs, and American Marketing Association, International Business Organization clubs definitely were, and they got to experience it first-hand during their tours at our HHG HQ in Downtown Honolulu.
“Student Tour Season” is that time of year when we host multiple student organizations per week at our offices for interactive learning sessions and tours. Hawaiian Host Group has been a favored tour location for many years now, as the students get to learn about all the different aspects of our business. Marketing, Supply Chain, Finance, Talent Management, Sales, Production… you name it.
During the tours, the students get to interact with our team members, can ask them about their roles and responsibilities, and often receive the career advice of a lifetime. Not to mention the free Hawaiian Host chocolates and Mauna Loa macadamias they leave with.
Halloween at HHG
Barbie, Harry Potter, and Money Heist … oh my! These were just a few of the incredible themes our team showed out in this Halloween at HHG.
We kicked our Halloween festivities up a notch this year by introducing an Office Theme Decoration Contest! Based on the competitive spirit we’ve seen our team demonstrate during the HHG Office Olympics, we knew they would bring their A-game to this competition.
The prize? A delicious boba party for the entire winning teams! Congratulations to our Honolulu HQ Second Floor’s Harry Potter on winning the Best Decorated Office Award as voted by our executive & senior leadership teams, and the LA Office’s Barbie on winning the People’s Choice Award, as voted by our social media communities. We can’t wait to see what our teams come up with next year!
2024 Strategy & Budget Meetings
2023 flew by and with 2024 around the corner, our team is working hard to make it the best year in over 95 years of Hawaiian Host Group’s history. We know that’s a big statement and we can only say it with confidence after seeing our 2024 Strategy and Budget.
Over the course of several weeks, our executive and senior leaders facilitated interactive sessions across locations to ensure that everyone is aligned and on board with the plan for 2024. This will happened in-person with all teams at our offices in Honolulu, Los Angeles (pictured here), and Tokyo, as well as our manufacturing facilities in Honolulu, Hilo, and Kona.
Mahalo to all of our team members for providing great input and asking smart questions as always!
Mahalo and Happy Holidays from all of us at Hawaiian Host Group!
These accomplishments would not have been possible without the support and dedication of our incredible team members, vendors, suppliers, and other partners. Mahalo nui loa to each of you for making 2023 an incredible year for Hawaiian Host Group.
Happy Holidays from our ‘ohana to yours!