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SPECIAL REPORT 2021

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

HOLUALOA

35

C O M PA N I E S TH

ANNIVERSARY R E G I O N A L , N AT I O N A L & G L O B A L

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Holualoa Cos.

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Marks 35 Years

BizDEVELOPMENT

Global Developer Bullish on Tucson & Phoenix By David Pittman Holualoa Companies, a Tucson-based real estate investment firm managing more than $3 billion in assets spanning the United States and Europe, has achieved a significant milestone – surpassing 35 years in business. “Our business had fairly humble beginnings and it has been gratifying to see it grow over the years,” said I. Michael Kasser, Holualoa’s founder and chairman. “Our culture has focused on discipline, attention to detail and patience, and we’re proud to have produced superior results for Holualoa’s investors for over 35 years, through bull and bear markets and favorable and unfavorable cycles.” Kasser began operating Holualoa in 1985 in Kai-

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lua-Kona, Hawaii. From the start, the company has focused on the acquisition, repositioning, redevelopment and disposition of under-performing commercial properties, particularly those in superior locations. Kasser credits much of Holualoa’s success to a “detailed due-diligence process” that fully analyzes potential risks and rewards before making investments. He said Holualoa also utilizes an “intensive management approach” to continually upgrade the value of its properties, which increases tenant satisfaction, raises property occupancy and makes investors happy. “Some say we’re too nitpicky, but it works for us,” Kasser said. continued on page 142 >>>

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BizDEVELOPMENT

continued from page 141 From Hawaii to Tucson

In 1992, Holualoa expanded into Arizona and moved its headquarters to Tucson. It was a period following the savings and loan crash of the late 1980s and early 1990s when the federal Resolution Trust Corporation was selling foreclosed commercial assets for pennies

on the dollar. Kasser and his wife, Beth, were first introduced to Tucson when they vacationed at Canyon Ranch. As the couple’s Tucson visits grew more frequent, Kasser and Holualoa began investing heavily in distressed properties in Tucson and Phoenix.

“I was traveling back and forth between Hawaii and Canyon Ranch,” recalled Kasser. “I suggested to my wife that maybe it was time to move to Arizona because my partners weren’t going to continue investing if I was living 3,000 miles away. Beth told me she would leave Hawaii for Tucson, but not

CABANA – WASHINGTON GREENLIGHT COMMUNITIES

CABANA – POWER GREENLIGHT COMMUNITIES

CAMPBELL PLAZA – TUCSON TANQUE VERDE APARTMENTS – TUCSON

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PHOTOS: COURTESY HOLUALOA COMPANIES

Phoenix. So we moved to Tucson.” Holualoa has experienced consistent growth, and has opened offices in Scottsdale, Santa Monica, California, and Paris, as well as entered into partnerships in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Holualoa currently owns or manages more than 60 properties exceeding 6.5

million square feet. It has procured more than 180 loans totaling in excess of $2 billion from over 40 lenders. Changing Leadership

In late 2019, Richard B. Kauffman, who had been Holualoa’s CFO since 2000, was promoted to CEO, succeed-

ing Kasser and becoming only the second person to lead the firm. “I was ready to pass on leadership, and Rick worked his way into the position. He’s a natural leader,” Kasser said at the time of the transition. “Rick has continued on page 144 >>>

CABANA – HAYDEN GREENLIGHT COMMUNITIES

DISCOUNT TIRE HEADQUARTERS SCOTTSDALE FORBES RENDERING – TUCSON

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Our size is a strength. We are small enough to be nimble and responsive, but big enough to commit appropriate resources to opportunities. –

Richard B. Kauffman CEO Holuloa Companies

continued from page 143 been an integral part of Holualoa’s success over the last 20 years. He not only has my confidence and respect, but the confidence and respect of everyone in our company. This change is part of a leadership succession plan developed several years ago, and we are well-positioned to continue our momentum under Rick’s leadership.” Kasser said he remains active in the business, offering guidance and experience when needed. Kauffman praised Kasser for building a fantastic company. “Mike (Kasser) is very smart and he’s been an outstanding mentor to me,” Kauffman said. “He encourages people to speak their minds and wants to hear all sides before making decisions. He has a deep relationship with people and the communities. Holualoa is highly suc144 BizTucson

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cessful because of the culture Mike has created.” Kauffman said the business of real estate investment demands flexibility and a willingness to adapt. “Everything is cyclical and market conditions are always changing,” he said. “We study how apartments are doing in Los Angeles and how the industrial market is doing in Phoenix. We study various product types. The when, where, why and how we invest is always changing; that’s change of orientation, but our analytical approach and attention to detail is constant.” Though Holualoa covers large amounts of territory, it employs only 30 people, 17 of whom work in Tucson. “Our size is a strength,” Kauffman said. “We are small enough to be nimble and responsive, but big enough to commit

appropriate resources to opportunities.” That Holualoa has little turnover, “is a good reflection on the business and the quality of the staff,” he said. Arizona Growth

Holualoa is bullish on downtown Tucson. The firm’s downtown investments have included the Pioneer Building, Herbert Residential Apartments, One East Congress and McCormick Townhomes, which was recently sold. “Rio Nuevo is doing a great job,” Kauffman said of the tax-funded district whose board guides redevelopment efforts. “We have invested in several downtown properties and continue to look for future opportunities there.” Holualoa recently acquired a significant share of Greenlight Communities, continued on page 147 >>> www.BizTucson.com


BizDEVELOPMENT

SKYSONG – SCOTTSDALE SKYSONG – SCOTTSDALE

DEWOITINE – VELIZY FRANCE

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BizDEVELOPMENT continued from page 144 a Scottsdale-based company dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable rental housing. Greenlight has more than 3,000 units under development in metro Phoenix. In those projects, buildings surround common courtyards that feature a pool, fitness areas and other amenities designed to encourage interaction. Kauffman said Holualoa is looking for sites to build similar communities in Tucson. Holualoa is also part of a joint venture CAMELBACK COLLECTIVE – PHOENIX – which includes New Mountain View and A.W. Mars – that is developing Mountain View Ranch, two distinct housing neighborhoods in Vail that feature home plans ranging from 1,800 to 4,000 square feet on one-acre lots with views of the Rincon and Catalina Mountains. Fairfield Homes, Bednar Design & Construction and Del Mar Homes are the home builders. Sales at Mountain View Ranch have increased by more than 43% over the past year despite challenging economic circumstances caused by COVID-19. Among Holualoa’s several significant commercial projects in the Phoenix area, two stand out as extremely massive, high-profile endeavors. SkySong, otherwise known as The Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center, is billed as one of the Phoenix area’s premier economic engines. Holualoa has joined ASU, the City of Scottsdale and Plaza ComCAMELBACK COLLECTIVE – PHOENIX panies, the project’s master developer, as development partners. SkySong attracts cutting-edge, innovaMONTIGNY – PARIS tive companies to Scottsdale to connect with ASU’s Innovation Center. Five Class A, green office buildings totaling 750,000 square feet have been completed and are well-occupied. The final 320,000-square-foot building MONTIGNY – PARIS is ready to begin construction. The development also boasts more than 325 apartment residences, five restaurants, a hotel, and an extra-large shade structure that has become one of Scottsdale’s most recognized landmarks. Holualoa and Plaza Companies are also working to thoroughly modernize and expand Park Central, the first continued on page 148 >>> www.BizTucson.com

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BizDEVELOPMENT

FUTURE HOLUALOA COMPANIES HEADQUARTERS – TUCSON

PIONEER – TUCSON

PIONEER INTERIOR RESTORATION

continued from page 147 shopping mall in Phoenix. The shopping center is being converted into office and retail space with Arizona’s tallest precast parking structure that added 2,000 parking spaces to Phoenix’s core.

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Creighton University’s Health Sciences Campus is under construction and is expected to serve 900 students. A 278unit apartment community is also under construction at the site.

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BizCONSTRUCTION

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I. Michael Kasser Founder & Chairman Holualoa Companies

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Super

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Achiever I. Michael Kasser

Real Estate Mogul, Avid Athlete, Philanthropist

I. Michael Kasser has many interesting accomplishments to his name after 80 years on this planet. His greatest business success is unquestionably Holualoa Companies, a Tucson-based real estate investment and development firm he founded and guided from the ground up. Today, the business oversees a diversified international portfolio of office, retail, industrial, apartment and hotel properties and land worth more than $3 billion. Kasser has worked hard and over-achieved his entire life. He was born during World War II – Dec. 9, 1940 – in Budapest, Hungary, to Alexander and Elisabeth Kasser. After the war, his family escaped to Mexico City before moving to the U.S. and bouncing between Trenton, New Jersey; Philadelphia and New York City, and www.BizTucson.com

finally landing in Montclair, New Jersey. In Hungary, Kasser’s father was an executive at one of the country’s largest paper mills. By the time the war ended, the family had lost everything,” said Kasser. “When we arrived in the United States we were broke.” As a youth, Kasser exhibited genius – skipping three grades and entering Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the age of 15. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1960, he went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1961 and a doctorate in engineering at the University of Grenoble (France) in 1964. Kasser speaks six languages fluently – Hungarian, Spanish, English, French, German and Italian. continued on page 154 >>> Winter 2021 > > > BizTucson 153

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

By David Pittman


continued from page 153

I. MICHAEL KASSER: AT CIVANA

After getting his doctorate in engineering, Kasser went to work for two years with his father, also an engineer, at a small paper mill in Quebec. “My father built the mill from old spare parts and it really worked,” Kasser recalled. “We made toilet paper from waste paper. After wrapping and boxing the individual rolls, I’d load them in a truck and sell the boxes to nearby grocery stores.” Kasser eventually left to attend Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA in 1968. Following his Harvard stint, he went to New York City to begin a job as a financial analyst for W.R. Grace, an international chemical company. After a few years, Kasser went out on his own and purchased, “for no money down,” a couple of saw mills in upstate New York. Like his father, Kasser was a sports enthusiast. His father played professional soccer for the Peugeot team in France. Kasser began running while in New York City and he’s been running ever since. He ran his first marathon – the New York City Marathon – in 1976. “I’ve run more than 100 marathons over the years,” he said. “I really got into it.”

Kasser met his wife, Beth, when they shared a ride with a mutual friend to the Yonkers Marathon, where they both competed. They were married in 1984 and the next year moved to Hawaii, where Kasser launched Holualoa Companies. An outstanding triathlon competitor, Kasser completed the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii eight times. A photo of Kasser wearing an Ironman sleeveless t-shirt was featured on the cover of the April 1984 edition of SPORTSWISE magazine, which declared him “The Renaissance Athlete.” The prosperity produced by Holualoa Companies enabled Kasser and his wife to become influential philanthropists who’ve donated millions of dollars to local charities and various other causes – including the Tucson Museum of Art, the Arizona Theatre Company and several projects benefiting the University of Arizona. Kasser is also a venture capitalist who has directed Holualoa capital resources to early-stage, innovative companies in a wide range of business sectors. Despite all his success, Kasser said his own story pales to that of

PHOTO: COURTESY HOLUALOA COMPANIES

BizDEVELOPMENT

continued on page 156 >>>

PHOTOS: COURTESY KASSER FAMILY

I. Michael Kasser: Competitive athlete; family man with wife Beth, daughter Violet and son Mikey; world traveler with Beth; son of Holocaust survivors Elizabeth and Alexander Kasser.

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BizDEVELOPMENT continued from page 154 his father’s. At the outset of World War II, Alexander Kasser frequently traveled to Sweden to find and purchase paper pulp for use at the mill where he worked. Because of those travels, he became close friends with professor Valdemar Langlet, a Swede who subsequently became head of the Swedish Red Cross in Budapest. Langlet asked Alexander Kasser to help him in organizing and running the enterprise, which, among other things, was utilized in a clandestine operation to hide and rescue Hungarian Jews who otherwise were destined for shipment to Auschwitz or other Nazi death camps. The Swedish Red Cross, led by Langlet and Alexander Kasser, rented buildings in Budapest and placed signs on the doors, such as “Swedish Library” or “Swedish Research Institute.” The structures were then used as hiding places for Jews being hunted by Nazi authorities led by SS officer Adolph Eichmann. Kasser’s parents were part of a humanitarian effort directed by Raoul

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Ironma n I. Mic in Apri hael Kasser l 1984

Wallenberg, an inspiring Swedish leader credited with saving more than 100,000 Jewish lives targeted by Adolf Hitler and Germany’s Third Reich. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Wallenberg was able to negotiate the creation of thousands of protective passes to allow Hungarians with family ties to Swedes to immigrate to Sweden. To save as many Jews as possible, Wallenberg had three to four times more

passes printed than were authorized. Elisabeth Kasser contributed to the saving of lives as the interpreter for Wallenberg. The Guinness Book of World Records credits Wallenberg as the all-time leader in saving the greatest number of people from extinction. In 1999, Alexander (posthumously) and Elisabeth Kasser were honored with The Raoul Wallenberg Award from the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. The war’s ending wasn’t kind to Wallenberg, who disappeared shortly after the Russians marched into Hungary. Soviet officials long maintained he died of a heart attack in a Soviet prison. However, in 2000, the Russian government announced Wallenberg had been executed in 1947 in a KGB prison. Alexander Kasser was arrested and imprisoned by German and Hungarian authorities, but he managed to escape. And before he could be recaptured, the Reich fell and the war ended. Biz

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Richard B. Kauffman CEO Holualoa Companies

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BizDEVELOPMENT

Leading a Global Portfolio CEO Richard Kauffman Values Quality People, Strong Company Culture

Richard B. Kauffman, CEO of Holualoa Companies, loves his job and the company he leads. “I enjoy the opportunities and the challenges,” he said. “It’s a special place to be. If you’re passionate about what you do and you’re good at it, it doesn’t seem like work.” Throughout its 35-year history, Holualoa has made consistent profits, while acquiring more than $3 billion in office, retail, industrial, multifamily, hotel, land and mixed-use properties stretching from Hawaii to Paris. Kauffman became the CEO of Holualoa on Dec. 1, 2019, after serving as the company’s CFO and VP of Finance for 20 years. Raised in Pennsylvania, Kauffman earned a degree in accounting from Penn State University and began his career with KPMG in Philadelphia. He was working as a corporate auditor for Campbell Soup when he met his future wife, Sandy Capin, a member of the well-known family that operated Capin Mercantile Corporation in www.BizTucson.com

Nogales, Arizona and owned businesses in Tucson. The couple moved to Nogales in 1990 where Kauffman worked for Capin Mercantile and later the Tuttle-Click Automotive Group before joining Holualoa. Holualoa Companies began in Hawaii, but moved its headquarters to Tucson and later added offices in Scottsdale, Santa Monica, California, and Paris. The company has also operated in Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico among its markets. Though Holualoa covers a great deal of territory, Kauffman is not anxious to open more offices or increase the staff of 30 people. “Growth for the sake of growth is not one of our goals,” he said. “There are advantages being a company of our size. We are small enough to maintain a responsive, entrepreneurial spirit, but big enough to commit appropriate resources to opportucontinued on page 162 >>> Winter 2021 > > > BizTucson 161

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

By David Pittman


BizDEVELOPMENT continued from page 161 nities. We have collaborated with most of our investors for many years and provided them with above average returns. As we see compelling new opportunities, we are confident our investors will continue to participate.” Kauffman said the knowledge and efficiency of Holualoa’s staff, as well as the culture developed by the company’s founder, are major factors in the company’s success. “We have quality people with very diverse and complimentary talents,” he said. “Our key people are highly skilled in such areas as accounting, legal matters, business operations, real estate brokerage, property management, acquisitions and investment – and all of them are extremely analytical. When you put all those skills together you get a very strong result.” Kauffman, 60, said employees at Holualoa know each other well and the company’s culture encourages open conversation, brainstorming and the sharing of ideas about the company and what it does. “A wide range of opinions get expressed because everyone looks at things from different angles,” he said. “That back and forth produces a better result. We are mindful not to change the culture that has worked so well for us without a compelling reason.” Kauffman said identifying and seizing opportunities is part of Holualoa’s DNA. In fact, the decision to move the company’s headquarters to Tucson in 1992 was made when I. Michael Kasser, Holualoa’s founder and chairman, discovered while vacationing here that repossessed properties were being sold for pennies on the dollar in Tucson and Phoenix by the federal Resolution Trust Corporation. As a result, Kasser moved himself and his company to Tucson. As for Holualoa’s future, Kauffman anticipates the company will remain active in its primary markets, including the Southwest, western regions of the United States and France. “We will also invest in other markets where we see exceptional opportunities or have experience and have realized success such as Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Mexico,” Kauffman said. “In addition, we will continue to invest in select venture capital opportunities.” Holualoa has been active in France since 1998 and has about 25% of its as162 BizTucson

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sets there where the company has developed strong business connections and overseen a great deal of construction. Closer to home, Holualoa will soon complete the transformation of a student housing complex into market-rate housing. The property, formerly known as Gateway Apartments, is at 2800 W. Broadway, near Pima Community College. It’s being re-branded as Sonoran Reserve. The project, which includes 10 buildings and a leasing office, will be completed during the first quarter of 2021.

Our key people are highly skilled in such areas as accounting, legal matters, business operations, real estate brokerage, property management, acquisitions and investment – and all of them are extremely analytical. –

Richard B. Kauffman CEO Holuloa Companies

Kauffman said the Sonoran Reserve project is a case study of the kind of work Holualoa was doing in Tucson during the RTC days. The student housing property went downhill after the City of Tucson approved new building regulations that allowed high-rise dormitories to be constructed near the University of Arizona. Many students chose to live in those large towers because of their proximity to UArizona, which resulted in properties such as Gateway, which is miles from campus, to lose rental clients

to the new dorms. In the case of Gateway, the lender took the property back and later put it up for auction, providing what Kauffman calls “an opportunity.” “We are aware of our market and we were fortunate to get a favorable price at auction,” he said. “Holualoa started out as a value-add firm. We would buy something that was broken, either physically or financially, and fix it. The value-add skill is still with the company, though now we are also doing quite a bit of development.” Kauffman said most of the units have already been updated and are rapidly being leased. The renovation has also included a new lounge, landscaping and repaving of the parking lot, as well as improvements to the swimming pool, fitness room and leasing office. Holualoa will soon be renovating one of its own buildings to be its new headquarters office. It will not be moving far, just one block north of the intersection of Sunrise and Swan, which is near its current location in an office building at 3573 E. Sunrise Drive. The new digs will be in a 17,000-square-foot, two-story office building with enough room for two or three other firms. Holualoa has taken steps to help some of its business clients that have experienced financial troubles caused by the pandemic. “We understand the impact the pandemic has had on many businesses and we’ve taken a proactive approach to help our tenants through this difficult period,” Kauffman said. “For about 50 tenants, we made accommodations on their rent in various forms or another,” he said. “The way we approached it was with transparency. If the tenant was willing to be open about their situation and share their numbers and plans with us, we were willing to help them through various abatements or modifications to their leases. It was well-received by our tenants and it was the right thing to do.” Kauffman believes Tucson will come back strong after the pandemic because of the climate, low cost of living and business environment. “A large number of businesses are leaving California and heading to lower-tax states, such as Arizona, Nevada and Texas,” he said.

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

BizDEVELOPMENT

Lani Baker Principal & Chief Financial Officer – Tucson Lani Baker, a Tucson native who has worked for more than 15 years in commercial real estate, was recently promoted to CFO at Holualoa Companies. Her areas of expertise include commercial real estate acquisitions, financing, sales, treasury and investor relations. Baker’s advancement is connected to other company leadership changes. Former CFO Richard B. Kauffman succeeded company founder I. Michael Kasser as CEO who serves as chairman. Baker formerly was VP of Finance. “It is gratifying to take on this exciting role in a company I love with a team I greatly respect,” Baker said. “Mike Kasser and Rick Kauffman have been 166 BizTucson

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incredibly important to me and my career. Mike helped me develop critical thinking skills, taught me the importance of looking at situations from all sides, and showed me the rewards of being involved in your community. Rick taught me to always ask questions, stay curious and to hire team members smarter than you so the bar continues to rise.” Baker serves the community as a past VP and board member of the Lupus Foundation of Southern Arizona and is a current member of Angel Charity for Children. In 2016, she was named a 40 Under 40 member by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and in 2018 as a

Tu Nidito Remarkable Mom. More recently she was recognized as a Real Estate Champion in the Women of Influence awards by Inside Tucson Business. She was the 2020 board president of CREW Tucson, which is part of the nation’s premier commercial real estate network. Baker resides with her husband and their two children. She attended the University of Arizona, where she received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She also earned an MBA.

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BizDEVELOPMENT

Principal & Chief Investment Officer Aroon Chinai, Principal and Chief Investment Officer for Holualoa Companies, oversees property investment, financing and sale decisions. In addition, he directs the operations of Holualoa’s hotel assets, properties located in California and New York, and is involved in corporate direction and strategic planning. Since Chinai joined Holualoa, the company has acquired more than 100 168 BizTucson

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properties. He recently has become involved in forming relationships to access institutional capital and add to the existing high-net-worth investor base. Chinai joined Holualoa in 1993. Previously, he was a project manager of Ford Motor Company, managing the development of industrial facilities in the United States, Mexico, Spain and Portugal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engi-

neering from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in real estate development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chinai also completed the Harvard University’s Running a Real Estate Company program. A member of the Urban Land Institute and MIT’s Real Estate Club, he is also involved in various international charities dedicated to children’s education. Biz www.BizTucson.com

PHOTO: COURTESY HOLUALOA COMPANIES

Aroon Chinai


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BizDEVELOPMENT

Stan Shafer Stan Shafer, COO of Holualoa Companies, has observed the real estate industry from many angles. He began his career as a real estate attorney, later became a broker and now oversees the management and development of the company’s properties. “I spent 10 years protecting my clients from risks, then 22 years urging them to take risks, and now I’m taking the risks,” said the 68-year-old Shafer. “I love my job. As a broker and a lawyer I could never say, ‘I created that.’ It’s fun being on the creative side. I have no intention of ever retiring.” Shafer works from Holualoa’s Scott170 BizTucson

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sdale office, but he visits Tucson once a week. He spends a great deal of time on the phone speaking to those managing the company’s assets in places stretching from Hawaii to France. Shafer has been intricately involved in two of the largest commercial endeavors in metro Phoenix: the development of SkySong, known as The Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center, and the redevelopment of Park Central shopping mall in Phoenix. Holualoa has developed those projects in partnership with Peoria-based Plaza Companies. Holualoa is filled with “great, talented people who have diverse skills and

are unafraid to express their opinions,” Shafer said. “We frequently disagree about things, but we always respect one another and, at the end of the day, we usually come up with the best solution to problems.” He added that “group think” is discouraged at Holualoa because it can lead to “a lot of mistakes.” Shafer grew up in Des Moines and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Iowa State University. He came to Arizona in 1974 to earn a law degree at ASU and has lived in the state ever since.

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PHOTO: COURTESY HOLUALOA COMPANIES

Principal & Chief Operations Officer – Phoenix


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BizDEVELOPMENT

Steven Betts A prominent name in commercial real estate in Arizona has taken on a key role with Holualoa Companies as managing director of development. Steven Betts, who moved into the position in late August, had been working as a senior adviser to Holualoa for five years. “I have enjoyed working with Holualoa Companies as they have cemented their position as one of the premier real estate firms in the region,” Betts said. “I look forward to continuing to create exceptional development projects and identify new growth opportunities for the company in coming years.” 172 BizTucson

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Betts is a director for the Tejon Ranch Company in California and is development director for the Helios Education Foundation in Phoenix. He also chairs the board of directors for University Realty, which cultivates real estate to support Arizona State University. Betts is the retired president and CEO of SunCor Development, the subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital that had an asset base of over half a billion dollars. Betts has developed master-planned communities as well as large-scale office, industrial, retail and mixed-use projects. Betts has also served as co-chair of

Gov. Doug Ducey’s Transition Committee for State Lands, is a trustee to the Nature Conservancy, chaired and serves on the advisory board of the Urban Land Institute Arizona District, is a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council Executive Committee, and served as deputy campaign manager and senior adviser for the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “Steve is one of the most respected people in our industry in the Western United States,” said Stan Shafer, COO for Holualoa. “He will be an invaluable asset.”

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Managing Director of Development


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In these uncertain times, they selflessly are allowing each employee to choose a charity in their own community and fund a donation on our behalf. I am proud to be a part of a company that looks beyond themselves.

– Tara Scherrer Manager – Treasury Holualoa Companies

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BizGIVING

Making it Personal

Holualoa Cultivates Legacy of Philanthropy By Rodney Campbell

Less than a month after COVID-19 emerged worldwide and became a significant economic disruptor in the United States, the executive team at Holualoa Companies had a discussion. As the management team of a company heavily involved in real-estate holdings, it would be understandable if Holualoa’s executives were concerned about the future. Instead, much of the discussion focused on how Holualoa could help the Southern Arizona community through the tough days ahead. “Early on, we could see a lot of people were having trouble,” said Kevin Gebert, a CFA and Holualoa invest-

ment analyst. “We could tell people would be hard hit. We had a feeling our business was going to make it through, so we decided to give back.” The plan they developed went beyond a corporate decision to send money to local nonprofits. This time, the company chose to make its contribution a little more personal. Executives decided to allow each of Holualoa’s 30 employees, many of whom work in Tucson, to earmark $2,000 apiece to the COVID-19 cause of their choice. Doing so put the workforce in charge of making gifts to nonprofits that meant something to them individually. The act turned out to be a

morale-builder during uncertain times. “Our employees did a great job of adjusting to the new realities of the pandemic, but as COVID-19 began to affect our personal and professional lives, we wanted to offer something positive to our team,” said CEO Richard B. Kauffman. “We were pleased with the enthusiastically positive response to the idea of participating in helping the community and in the breadth of organizations that were selected by our employees. Giving back is a great way to feel a sense of community.” Putting employees in charge of making substantial donations also showed that management trusted everyone, continued on page 178 >>>

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BizGIVING Holualoa Companies Select Charities Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professorship in Chemical Engineering at M.I.T. Alexander Kasser Theatre at Montclair State University Angel Charity for Children Arizona Opera Arizona State University Foundation Arizona Theatre Company Challenged Athletes Foundation Columbia University Teachers’ College Downtown Tucson Partnership Dusk Music Festival El Rio Foundation Everyone Runs Film Fest Tucson Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation Harvard Business School Kasser Family Medical Center University of Arizona Kasser Family Pool - University of Arizona Lupus Foundation of Southern Arizona Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson Perimeter Bicycling Reid Park Zoo Foundation Tu Nidito Children & Family Services Tucson Festival of Books Tucson Girls Chorus Tucson Jazz Festival Tucson Marathon Tucson Meet Yourself Tucson Museum of Art Tucson Symphony Orchestra United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Urban Land Institute Foundation University of Arizona College of Science University of Arizona Foundation Source: Holualoa Companies 178 BizTucson

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continued from page 177 personally, to dole the money out in the most effective ways. “I am honored to work for a company that not only takes care of their employees, but also each employee’s community,” Tara Scherrer, manager-treasury for Holualoa, said in a news release, when the donations were announced in April. “In these uncertain times, they selflessly are allowing each employee to choose a charity in their own community and fund a donation on our behalf. I am proud to be a part of a company that looks beyond themselves.” Hungarian-born I Michael Kasser founded Holualoa in Hawaii in 1985. The company, along with Kasser and his family, relocated to Tucson 28 years ago. An endurance athlete who ran his first marathon in 1976, Kasser took an interest in supporting events such as the Tucson Marathon and El Tour de Tucson. Now, his company’s contributions extend to numerous local nonprofits, from the arts to health-related causes to higher education. Kasser has been named Father of the Year by the Father’s Day Council Tucson. He and his wife, Beth, have received the Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year Award from the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The family name appears on buildings on the University of Arizona campus and across the city. The company Kasser started follows his lead. “We have things we support on a regular basis,” Gebert said. “A lot of it is because of Mike Kasser.” CFO Lani Baker said, “It has been ingrained in team members that it’s important to be involved in our community and to help our friends and neighbors.” Kasser has been a board member for the University of Arizona Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Department of Scientific Research Visiting Committee in New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Critical Path Institute. Following his example, other Holualoa employees also give back by volunteering. Gebert has served on boards for the Tucson Museum of Art and Arizona Theatre Company. Baker has been on the boards of the Lupus Foundation of Southern Arizona, CREW Tucson (this year as president) and Angel Charity for Children. Other employees have been or are board members of the American Heart Association Heart Ball and Metropolitan Pima Alliance, among others. “It’s always important to support the community where you work,” Gebert said. “You need to lend your time and expertise where you can. I knew the Arizona Theatre Company was something we supported as a company. They are having a very tough time right now. They’re trying to get out in the community in any way possible.” Holualoa employees see it as their duty to repay Tucson for its support over nearly three decades. 2020 put Southern Arizona’s nonprofits in the tough position of soliciting support during a pandemic and economic downturn. “We believe that our contributions result in a mutual benefit,” Kauffman said. “Healthy communities facilitate growing companies. Successful companies should support the communities that allow them to thrive.”

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