Made in Maui Trade Organization
Now locally built producers join forces to exploit unique branding opportunity by forming new group and using internet links. "Are Made in Maui stores next?"
Bumper stickers are everywhere urging, "Buy Made in Maui First." Turbinado sugar packets and the poha berry jam jar lids carry a logo promising the contents "Made in Maui." On Visitor Channel 7, there is an energetic TV-ad campaign showing Maui people smiling and waving and putting Maui elements together in Maui factories to make Maui products. No doubt, the campaign is good for the local economy, but very few people realize it is a concerted effort by a dedicated core of business people bent on making Maui "a brand."
The Made in Maui Trade Council, a committee of the Chamber of Commerce, has been very successful with campaigns that are often compared with the "Good Housekeeping Seal" program or the "Look for the Union label" approach. Lately, the coalition of local business has been growing rapidly and changing focus. "We'fe moving from the "buy Maui first' idea," says business-enrichment consultant Steve Rose who took over leadership of the Council in July 2002. "Now, the idea is that Made in Maui products have local people, local pride! It's an emphasis on these products as part of the new economy, beyond tourism."
While nothing will reduce the Council's requirment that Made in Maui companies must, "produce a marketable item with at least 51% value added on Maui," the reach of the invigorated brand is being extended. The 73 business members already include food producers, flower growers, clothing manufacturers, perfume, plastics and computer products among others, but that is just a start as Rose sees it. "We're looking to form voluntary agreements about what Made in Maui products have and do not have, even in areas like restaurants, events and services."
The now-familiar seal of the Council is only one of the services provided for members. There are also cooperative trade show deals, allowing deals, allowing businesses too small to participate in shows, themselves to have fair and knowledgeable representation. And, as Maui products increase their market shares outside Hawaii, there are container-sharing schemes in the making and plans to use shared brokers and distributors in Japan and on the mainland.
Annual membership in the Made in Maui Trade Council is available for small additional fee to any qualified member of the Chamber of Commerce, but membership fees don't go far in financing plans on the scale Rose and his colleagues are undertaking. Fortunately, in an era when government is as concerned as business about diversifying Hawaii's economy, there are grant funds available to help with such new-economy projects. So, another service of the Council and the Chamber of Commerce is securing those funds, again allowing small, for-profit business to benefit in areas where they could never have competed individually.
The plans of just about any organization of any sort in 2003 include logo-wear, and the Made in Maui Trade Council is no exception. "Whether you're a skateboard designer, you have to have your logo out there, walking around, promoting your success," says Lynne Woods, Chamber of Commerce President. Another sign of the times, of course, is that success is often accompanied by competing for awards. The Trade Council is picking up that challenge too, and putting it to good use to encourage quality and innovation in members' products. "We'll be having competitions for best product and best new product, at least," Rose says, "Oh, and a redesigned web site, a hub of links to member sites." That's about as up to date as you can get.
For more information on the Made in Maui Trade Council programs and membership, call the Chamber of Commerce at 871-7711.
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