Growing businesses on old sugar cane land

Steve Matthews
Steve Matthews
Mike Shetler
Mike Shetler

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

WAIALUA (KHNL)- Sugar used to be king in Hawaii, providing jobs for thousands.

All that changed on Oahu when the last sugar producer, the Waialua Sugar Company shut down.

But now businesses are rising in the ruins of the old sugar mill.

13 years after the sugar mill shut down, it is once again full of life.

Dozens of businesses filled the run down warehouses, buildings and even old cane holding tank.

In the place where the spent cane was recycled, a green business is now blooming.

"We've been green since before being green was cool and that has helped us to grow, we're growing everyday," said Jenna Rae, with the North Shore Soap Factory.

Not only are they making orders of soaps, lip balms and body oils for island spas and international customers, the North Shore Soap Factory is also attracting visitors to its retail store.

"We want people to see how its made to understand and ask questions. And give them a little piece of Hawaii to take home," added Rae.

Not far away, things are also shaping up nicely for III Stone. Which not only makes surf boards but recently opened its own retail store.

"We noticed there were tourists and people checking out the old sugar mill and we decided to open up a store. So people could come check out what we do," said III Stone co-owner, Steve Matthews.

From chocolate makers, to printing presses and cabinet shops. The local companies are leaving their mark on visitors to the old mill.

"If we wanted the Waikiki experience we'd be there right now, but this is what we think the North Shore supposed to be - laid back casual and fun," said Mike Shetler, as he toured the former Waialua mill.

And word is spreading, which in turn brings in more business and attention to the shops and companies at the old mill.

"The more business that come here, the more people promote it and in turn, it brings more people here," added Matthews.

But there is still a challenge of getting the word out about what is there at the mill. Every Saturday a popular farmer's market is held, and on April 11th, 'The taste of Waialua' will be held, to give everyone a sampling of what can be found on the North Shore.