Friends for more than 40 years, Craig Bowden and Tom Menezes had always wanted to farm together, but after graduating from Kalani High School and the University of Hawaii, they went their separate ways. Then, in recent years, they decided to find a way to bring the Hawaiian Crown™ Sweet Gold™ Pineapple to consumers and Hawaii Pineapple Company was established. Together with Craig’s wife of many years, Lisa, they finally realize their dream.
As President and Managing Member of Hawaii Pineapple Company and Hawaiian Crown, R. Craig Bowden has benefited the company with his broad and technical knowledge of business and production agriculture. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Tropical Agriculture at the University of Hawaii, and with over 30 years of experience working with small and large scale agriculture production, he has a very clear understanding of production and a focus on quality. As a former Group Operations Manager for a major pineapple producer, Craig also contributes extensive expertise in pineapple operations.
After leaving the sugar and pineapple businesses, Craig worked for Driscoll Strawberry Associates in California and then left to start his own produce consulting and food safety auditing business in 1999. Although most of his work was on the mainland, he still kept ties to Hawaii by coming to the islands to perform audits and consulting with local companies. His long term vision was to one day return to Hawaii so he could help to keep Hawaiian land in agriculture. He finally sold the food safety business, allowing him to return and focus on the family farming operation.
Partner and VP of Administration, Lisa Yamaguchi Bowden, was born and raised in Honolulu, and after graduating from Punahou School, she went to the University of Hawaii to study Nutrition. However, because Craig’s career took them to Kauai, Arizona, the Philippines, Florida and California, she was finally able to complete her college education, changing to a double major in Marketing and International Business at Florida International University. While in California, she helped write several patents and worked with Craig on their many businesses. She still continues to be at his side in all of his endeavors, including a leading postharvest technology company in California and the farming businesses in Hawaii. Her dream was always to return to Hawaii and allow their daughter the same wonderful schooling and lifestyle that she and Craig grew up with. So when the pineapple acreage became more than an “expensive hobby”, they jumped at the chance to sell one of their California businesses and move “home” to expand the farm. Her hope is to help keep agriculture alive in the islands, and by using a minimal amount of chemicals, pesticides and no genetically modified plant materials, the land would be preserved for generations to come.
Hawaii Pineapple Company Senior VP of Operations and Partner, Tom Menezes, has degrees in Tropical Agriculture and Plant Pathology from the University of Hawaii. With more than 30 years of experience in production, breeding, research, and farm management of tropical crops in Hawaii, Tom’s extensive expertise includes collecting and breeding pineapples (and ornamental bromeliads), taro, & cacao. He has also co-authored several research papers on gingerroot, taro and cacao with members of the University of Hawaii. Prior to helping to establish Hawaii Pineapple Company, he worked for a local pineapple company, the USDA, and for the last 20 years has run his own successful banana & tropical crop farm and nursery on the Big Island. Sweet Gold™ Pineapples are the result of his hard work, patience, collaboration with Craig, and a singular focus on achieving his goal to find a unique Pure Hawaiian Pineapple with great flavor and low acidity while maintaining a high quality fruit.