(Sept. 18) MAUI, Hawaii — Howard Nager plans to expand Maui Pineapple Co. LTD’s fresh and fresh-cut business from Hawaii in his new role as vice president of fresh sales and marketing.

Nager joined Maui Pineapple in mid-September and immediately began working out of its Concord, Calif., sales office.

“I looked at it and saw a tremendous opportunity,” Nager said. “Maui Pineapple is in a metamorphosis phase. It’s the largest producer of Hawaiian pineapples, but it’s a small organization so there are a lot of opportunities to make significant impacts fairly quickly.”

Nager said he also liked the opportunity to jump into fresh sales with both feet. In his previous role as vice president of marketing for Yuba City, Calif.-based Sunsweet Growers Inc., he had handled dried fruit as well as produce.

“I’m really looking to expand the fresh business from Hawaii, both in whole and fresh-cut,” Nager said.

Maui Pineapple began a fresh-cut program two years ago and offers seven fresh-cut items. It also offers the popular extra-sweet varieties, Nager said.

“One of our primary focuses and challenges is to educate the trade as to who Maui Pineapple is,” Nager said. “We’re in a competitive environment with two of the world’s best known brands. We have to prove to the retailer we have the high-quality product they want. Once the retailer is convinced and the product is on the shelf, it will sell itself.”

DougSchenk, president and chief executive officer of Maui Pineapple, said Nager will be a great asset because of his tremendous experience in the industry.

“We are very fortunate to have Howard as part of our executive team and look forward to his tremendous drive, passion and enthusiasm,” Schenk said.

Maui Pineapple will have a booth at the Oct. 17-21 Produce Marketing Association convention in Orlando, Fla., and Nager will be on hand to speak with customers.