Mac grew up around numbers. His father was a very successful real estate developer in Hawaii. He grew up watching and/or becoming involved in his father’s many projects, including the Ala Moana Shopping Center (at one time the largest and most successful shopping center in the world); the Ala Moana Hotel; the Maui Marriott; and numerous other condominium projects, hotels, office buildings, and retail projects.
After studying at the University of California, Berkeley (where he had followed his father and was a fourth-generation Beta), Mac returned to Honolulu and eventually joined his father’s real estate development business.
“My dad made me Project Manager of a high-rise, luxury condominium project on Maui. Since there were two buildings, I named it The Mahana (Hawaiian for “twins”). Keeping track of the interest cost on the construction loan on paper was a challenge so we turned to a computer. Not having our own we used computer “time-sharing”. I entered all of our parameters remotely into the computer using a telex machine as a terminal. The results were then printed on the telex machine. This process saved a huge amount of time!”
Mac’s years growing up with and later working with his father taught him a great deal. Mac recounts the greatest lesson he learned from his father:
“One day, when we were working together as partners, my father took me aside and told me that he would tell me the secret of real estate development. He said, “Mac, there are many components to the success of a real estate project. There is the land, the design, the financial pro forma, there may be a major tenant, there’s the market for the project (such as a hotel, condo or office building), there’s the equity, the financing, the architect, the contractor, and the rest.” He continued, “The first thing you do is to select the most important piece and hang it right here, up in the air [gesturing by hanging something in the space above his head]. Then you select the second piece and hang it right there, on the first. Then you take each succeeding piece and hang it on the last.” With a sparkle in his eye, he said, “The key is that you have to do this very quickly before anyone realizes that the first piece is hanging in midair . . . for, you see, the secret to real estate development is smoke and mirrors and black thread!” My father’s secret to success was that he created a future. Where others saw a pile of coral, he saw the largest (and possibly the most successful) shopping center in the world (Ala Moana Center). Where others saw a vacant lot, he saw one of the most beautiful office buildings in Honolulu (345 Queen Street Building). Where others saw an empty stretch of beach, he saw a successful, large hotel operated by one of the world’s leading hotel chains (Maui Marriott). Where others saw a site on Montgomery and Market in then a sleepy San Francisco, my father saw a vibrant city with the tallest skyscraper west of Dallas, complete with a BART station before BART existed (44 Montgomery St.). My father created illusions and then put those illusions out there for others to see, admire, contribute to and agree with. No matter the opposition, whatever problems came along the way, he kept putting his illusion there day after day after day. His intention was unyielding. And do you know what the result of his persistence was? His illusions became successful realities. My father taught me to create future.”
In addition, Mac has been involved in the creative end of finance and technology. The first software application that he designed and developed was “RightRoute,” a telecommunications network optimization software application designed, developed and then sold to a public Corporation in 1990. In 1996, he was a co-founder of InnTechnology, Inc., which designed and developed a unique network printing solution for hotel guest rooms (e.g., the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and many others). The system provided in-room printer/copier/fax machines and printed hotel bills in guest rooms in addition to monitoring in-room guest printing, copying and faxing while posting charges to guest accounts. Mac conceived of and designed a unique and sophisticated financial-deal-structuring application for Waterfall-IRR Corporation (which he founded) and then sold to Intuit Corporation in 2008.
Today, Mac is the Principal Broker for TFS Properties, Inc. – a commercial real estate firm based in San Marino, CA.