Detail-oriented Mall Operations Manager finds success at JLL

From working in carpentry and electronics to facilities management, Michael Taniguchi is a jack of all trades

If anything needs a repair at Windward Mall in Kaneohe, Hawaii, Operations Manager Michael Taniguchi is already on top of it. He’s tracking, rectifying and preventing any maintenance issues down to the finest details to ensure the mall is up to the highest safety standards.

Michael's motto during his day-to-day operations comes down to one thing - treating the mall like he would his own home.

“Think of your house. Can you go from your bed to the bathroom without opening your eyes? Can you go from the bathroom down to the kitchen? Can you work in your kitchen without opening your eyes and prepare yourself breakfast? If you can, your house is safe,” Michael explains.

Michael takes pride in working behind the scenes at the retail center, focusing on the health, structure and integrity of the mall through tasks like managing housekeeping, security and supporting his facilities management team.

For as long as Michael can remember he’s been a “gadget guy who loves fixing things.” A Hawaiian native, he’s always been a handy man. His family has three generations of working in carpentry, including his father and son, making them experts in repairing and maintaining structures of their home with a keen eye for detail.

In 1983 he began his 18-year long career in electronics at AT&T, where he worked installing car phones. He also founded his own company, where he worked directly with manufacturers repairing cellular phone devices. At the time, Michael was one of only two certified electronic technicians in Hawaii.

Eventually, when car phones became obsolete and cellular devices were readily accessible, Michael made a career transition into facilities management. “Facilities wasn’t something new to me as far as fixing things. Commercial real estate is bigger and more complex than a residential home, so it was a good learning curve.”

He worked diligently as an Operations Manager at Waikele Premium Outlets for several years. Then, one day, Michael’s wife came home saying she wanted to cut her work hours to spend more time with her grandkids.

Michael began looking for a new role that would allow his wife more family time and accepted a job as Chief Engineer at the Pan Am building. He was only there for four months when a General Manager at Windward Mall called with Michael’s resume in hand and an offer that he simply couldn’t refuse – and that was the start of Michael’s career at JLL.

After three years, Michael’s boss parted ways with the company and they needed a new General Manager. Michael knew just the right guy for the position and went on to recruit Cesar Topacio, his former manager at Waikele Premium Outlets.

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Cesar and Michael went on to do amazing work as a dream team at Windward Mall. When the business was hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, they worked endlessly to ensure everyone’s safety at the property and budgeted to cut operating costs. They strategized new ways to conserve energy, buy supplies and move forward with huge capital improvement projects. The result – a 27% decrease in energy costs and not a single employee laid off.

Michael values the strong relationships and the culture of belonging at JLL. He attributes the successes to the hard work of his team.

“Despite being such a large company, the team comradery here at JLL is amazing. JLL has other properties they manage in Hawaii and the whole team, whether it’s marketing, specialty leasing or leasing itself, is so quick to give support whenever someone is in need. Best of all, we have many skilled Maintenance Mechanics quietly taking care of our clients’ facilities. Glenn, Mike and Argie are the heart and soul of the Windward Mall. They make sure that the lights are on and air-conditioning is running 365 days a year.”

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