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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hammer falls on Maui Pine goods


By HARRY EAGAR
Maui News

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Auctioneer Joe Teipel, left, spotted bids for two golf carts at the Maui Pine equipment auction at the Maui Beach Hotel.

MATTHEW THAYER | Maui News

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KAHULUI Three years ago the $23 million fresh fruit processing line was supposed to represent the new future of Maui Pineapple Co. On Tuesday it was auctioned for just $125,000.

"It's so specialized," said Maui Land & Pineapple Co. President Ryan Churchill, noting that there weren't likely to be a lot of buyers for the equipment.

More than 300 bargain hunters crowded the Elleaire Ballroom at the Maui Beach Hotel for an all-day extravaganza of hope that kept three auctioneers chattering in relays, as many more bidders were online, following the action from around the world.

ML&P closed down its Maui Pine subsidiary at the end of last year, selling or leasing some of its land and equipment to Haliimaile Pineapple Co. But the unwanted leftovers went on the block Monday, ranging from wrecked golf carts and never-used office equipment to a generating station that could power a city of 50,000.

It was a day when the complete newbie could go head to head with the experienced auction-goer and come away a winner.

Like Becky Woods, chief executive officer of Maui Economic Concerns of the Community, which runs Ka Hale A Ke Ola and other island homeless shelters. She noticed pictures of golf carts on the front page of The Maui News on Tuesday morning and decided to check it out.

"I need golf carts," she said, for maintenance workers at the organization's 28-acre Wai'ale Road shelter. And vans.

But Woods had not known about an inspection of the items Monday, so she had not had a chance to look them over.

"I'm afraid to bid," she said at the start. "You don't know what you're getting."

But she plunged in, and on just the fourth lot of the morning, she bid successfully for two carts, at $2,000 each.

The real price was $2,200, because of a 10 percent buyers premium (13 percent for online bidders).

Joe Teipel of Real Estate Auctions Hawaii, who was spotting bidders for auctioneer Mark Weitz of Great American Group of Woodland Hills, Calif., said there were so many forklifts, they depressed the market. If you had wanted a forklift, you could have had a wide choice for between $1,000 and $2,000.

Pictures of the items were projected on a big screen. The catalog noted obvious defects, like "engine problems" or "no brakes" or "no key." But the terms were where-is, as-is and the buyer had to remove the prize no small matter if the prize was a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel tank set in concrete.

The auctioneers obviously had high hopes for the fresh fruit processing line. Everything stopped for a few minutes to survey the buyers to see whether they wanted to bid on the whole thing or as individual sections.

Selling it as a single unit was the choice, but the bidding was tepid and soon ended.

"Unbelievable," breathed Teipel when the hammer fell at $125,000 about $141,000 with buyers premium.