From the Phoenix Business Journal: Stan Shafer is intrigued by solving real estate development puzzles

From the Phoenix Business Journal

Stan Shafer has seen all angles of his industry, having worked as a real estate attorney and a broker before becoming a developer. “I spent 10 years protecting my clients from risks, then 22 years encouraging my clients to take risks and now I get to take risks,” said Shafer, the chief operating officer of Holualoa Cos. “One of the things I regretted as a broker and an attorney was that I couldn’t say, ‘I created that.’ It’s cool to be involved in the creative side.” Some of Holualoa’s biggest undertakings in the Phoenix area have been the development of SkySong and the redevelopment of Park Central Mall, both of which were done in partnership with Peoria-based Plaza Cos. Shafer grew up in Iowa but was a “wimp about the winter.” His grandparents moved to Arizona and he would visit them in the summer, and even credits them with being some of the first to start tubing along the Salt River, before there were commercial companies doing it.

I see a lot of race memorabilia on your walls, are you a competitive runner?

I’ve done 10 marathons and I was an active triathlete in the 1980s and ‘90s. I did the Ironman in Hawaii 32 years ago. I still run, but not marathons. My day starts at 4 a.m., I get up to exercise and, by 6 a.m., I’m on the computer and starting to work. We live on Tempe Town Lake near the walking bridge, so I like to walk and bike along the lake.

What else do you like to do in your free time?

In the summer we go to Pinetop every weekend, but you’d find me working in my office and playing golf. Literally right out the door of our cabin in Pinetop are hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails. In the winter we stay here in Phoenix. I’m a big sports fan, I like to go to ASU football and Cardinals games. I root for all Arizona teams including U of A. I’m an Arizona State season ticket holder. I love to travel. I’ve been to 49 states, I haven’t been to North Dakota. We started traveling internationally about four years ago. We have three sons, two live here and one lives in Chicago, they’re all Eagle Scouts. I was active as a Boy Scout leader but now I’m an empty-nester. I like to finish carpentry, like putting in the molding. It takes me four times longer than it would if I had hired someone to do it.
I like doing jigsaw puzzles. It’s similar to what I enjoy about what I do at
Holualoa. At work, I put together puzzles without a solution. The more complex the situation is, the more I enjoy it. The more complex are sometimes the more fun.

Your company is headquartered in Tucson, do you have to go there very often?

I travel to Tucson every week and I have a lot of time in the car. I like to listen to books on Audible. I really like to read historical fiction, I’m a big history buff, especially in European history of Ireland.

What is your job like at Holualoa?

I have a lot of hats that I wear. We have 40 domestic assets and the asset managers report to me and I collaborate with the asset managers. Whenever we sell properties, because of my attorney and broker experience I tend to take the lead. Rarely does a day go by without talking to attorneys. We invest in all sorts of different sizes of properties. You can be proud of a smaller project that isn’t as high visibility, you’re creating value and enhancing the neighborhood.


What development are you most proud of? Park Central. Revitalizing the area of Phoenix and doing something the community and the city are happy with, and bringing Creighton University [medical school] will help the state in general.


Corina Vanek
Reporter
Phoenix Business Journal

Tucson • Los Angeles • Kailua-Kona • Phoenix • Paris