Hawaii’s Resident Real (Estate) Genius

July, 2007

In 1978, real estate investor Jay Shidler told Hawaii Business he was happy with the way things stood in his business. Said Shidler, “ Today, if the s—t hit the fan economically, I’d be in good shape.”

Shidler rode the economic rollercoaster of the past 30 years and ended up in great shape. Good enough to be able to give a $25 million gift to the newly renamed Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last year.

What hasn’t changed, thousands of properties and deals later, is that Shidler is still heavily involved with any acquisition made by any of his companies. In 2006, he estimated that his public and private operations together were doing real estate acquisitions of about $250 million a month, or more than $3 billion a year. “I approve every acquisition that my public companies and my private companies acquire,” said Shidler. “You are what you eat, right? Your organization is defined by the properties you acquire.”

But just what defines Jay Shidler and his genius? Cathy S. Cruz and David K. Choo have some answers for you in their profile of Shidler, which highlights his newest business, in“The Perfect Question.”

They portray a deeply involved, whiteboard scribbling, numbers crunching dreamer, who somehow had the chutzpah to believe early on that world-class real estate companies could be built from remote Hawaii.

It’s one of Shidler’s core messages. He says, “Hawaii is a special place to do business, which you know. But it’s also, we’ve found, to be a viable place from which to do business. That’s probably what I’m most proud of – to be here and to develop a strategy that can be implemented in New York City or any one of 10 or 15 cities that we focused on.”

Shidler also has a key piece of advice for Hawaii-based businesses: “My opinion is that Hawaii businesses can probably expand beyond Hawaii more than they realize. But to do that, it takes a lot of work, meaning it takes a lot of thinking through a very clear strategy. And so while I say it’s highly possible, you better get your strategy right, because it’s very hard to fix something with what I call a 6,000-mile screwdriver.”

Read on and find out more from Hawaii’s resident real estate genius.

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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch