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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

My Biggest Mistake: David Honda

David Honda leads Northridge-based D.S. Honda Construction, a company he founded in 1980. He has also served as chair of the California State University – Northridge Foundation. During the course of his career, however, Honda has made some mistakes. Here he discusses a few. The lesson he says he has learned? “I was mistaken in a rush to judgment. I was young and impatient. I now go down the rabbit hole for every opportunity.”

Puerto Rico hotel project

In circa 1981, I was offered a project in Puerto Rico. This project was to design and remodel an abandoned hotel. The owners (were looking) to create medical facilities for cosmetic surgery by Beverly Hills physicians and recovery rooms in a hotel setting. The hotel would accompany a casino. The owners felt offshore cosmetic surgery was attainable based on their name. Gucci – yes, (the) Rodeo Drive shoe, guys – Aldo and Paolo Gucci were the owners. 

The project didn’t proceed due to their inability to obtain a gaming license. My job was in development, architecture and construction – the owners’ responsibility was licensing and finance. I spent one year traveling back and forth to the island, interacting with the government.

Bottled water development

The next project was developing a bottled water company.
After the above project didn’t proceed, Paolo Gucci contacted me to build a water bottling plant, near Truckee, California. I stated that Perrier Water was the only bottled water company at the time. Paolo Gucci felt that their name would sell water. I pointed out that there is free water, and I don’t think restaurants will pay for water. Also, Paolo disagreed on how the partnership would be divided between his brother.

I didn’t want to continue since I lost money on the Puerto Rico project and sensed a growing issue between the family. I declined their offer. Soon after, Evian arrived in the market, and now Coca- Cola and everyone else are in the marketplace. I now think Gucci Water would have done well.

Missing out on Red Bull

Circa 1990 I was approached by an emerging energy-drink company. Their desire was for me to distribute their product throughout Japan and Asia. They brought samples of their product for my tasting. I didn’t like the taste and I asked how much (the cans would retail for). When she (the company representative) stated $2 per can, I commented that Coca-Cola and Budweiser were much cheaper than their product and I didn’t understand the energy drink concept. I passed. The product was Red Bull. Hannah Welk

James Brock
James Brock
James Brock has worked in newsrooms around the world, including in New York, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Houston, and Los Angeles. He began his career with a Newhouse News daily, where he served on the news desk and the editorial page. He was the copy chief for The New York Sun, and founded and edited the personal finance section for Abu Dhabi-based The National, among other positions. He has interviewed Anthony Bourdain, Tom Ford, Mark Cuban, and many other individuals, and has written and edited thousands of stories and articles.

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