Editor’s note: Monte D.M. Mesa is the general manger of Guam Premier Outlets and Tumon Sands Plaza, a position he has held since 2006.
Previously he was the president and general manager for the former Guam Premium Outlets under its previous ownership from 2001 to 2006 and the assistant general manager for Micronesia Mall from 1997 to 2001.
Mesa is a member of the board for both the Guam Economic Development Authority and the Guam Nikkei Association and is vice chairman of the board for the Guam Visitors Bureau and president of the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay. He has served as chairman of the board for the Guam Museum Foundation Inc., the Port Authority of Guam, the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Pa’a Tao Tao Tano board of directors, as well as president for the first chartered Micronesia Cruise Association.
Mesa studied business management and marketing at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif. from 1978 to 1979 and at the University of Guam in 1982.
Q: How did you get involved in your career? What first interested you about the management and marketing business, and what do you like most about it to this day?
A: Accepting a job offer from Mr. Russell Robinson to become the president for Guam Premium Outlets in February 2001. The opportunity to be the leader of the organization and execute a new tenant mix strategy for reviving the outlet shopping center. What I liked about the opportunity was meeting business people in the retail, restaurant and entertainment industry.
Q: Having held management positions in most of the top malls on Guam, what do you see as the biggest differences in the malls/centers?
A: The biggest difference is the true retail experiences each of the shopping center’s management team has collectively. This keeps the shopping center tenants more cooperative when their retail perspectives are understood completely to assist and support their retail business growth.
Q: There are a variety of shopping versus dining and entertainment tenants at your shopping centers. How does managing the various tenants differ, and how do you accommodate those differences?
A: The shopping center’s main strategy is getting the correct tenant mix for the shopping center to have a collective retail appeal to attract its consumer market’s needs. This means that the center attracts regular retail, restaurants and entertainment activity tenants to be the shopping destination choice for all consumer of the community both local residents and tourist visitors, alike.
Q: If you’re shopping for yourself and/or your family, where will we find you?
A: You will find me in the fast fashion retailer stores or relaxing at the restaurant with a bar counter.
Q: What is the importance in being so involved in the community and the economic decisions made by the community to your business?
A: Being involved in leading or assisting a community organization is to have the opportunity to connect with the community members at large. It provides me a better perspective and understanding of how best to serve the community in our business.
Q: How does tourism affect your business? How have the changes in tourism over the past year plus influenced the direction your centers are moving?
A: Tourism is a great contributor to our retail centers, it can make it for some tenants or it can also break some tenants to give up, if retail tenants do not care to fully understand the shopping trends for each visitor markets. The shopping center management must direct the tenants strategic marketing direction to attract the tourism business to the center.
Q: When are the most profitable times of year for tenants, and what factors contribute to that?
A: The Christmas season is the biggest retail opportunity for tenants to make their annual financial budgets and get a return on their investments. The Christmas season is when tenants will garner their highest gross sales from their consumer community than any other retail season like Valentine, Easter, [Back to School] or Halloween.
Q: How has the shopping and entertainment market changed in your 21 years managing? What changes can Guam’s shoppers and entertainment seekers look forward to in the coming year?
A: The most disruptive market change during the last 21 years is the introduction of smart phones, now fueling a fast growth of on-line retailers disrupting the brick and mortar retailers. Consumers are always wanting and looking for quick and free deliveries of their online products. Guam consumers can expect to see new U.S. retailers, new U.S. restaurant chains and new virtual reality entertainment center opening at our shopping centers to provide a more exciting, fun and safe shopping experience in the center not able to be experienced on line.
Q: Bricks and mortar retail is suffering at the moment, with a number of brands reducing their presence. How is this affecting the shopping on Guam?
A: Yes, some bricks and mortar retailers are filing bankruptcy due to their over extension of their financial worth and resources. But most of all, some retailers are paying very high rents for prime locations in some centers and not generating the gross sales needed to afford their occupancy cost per square feet. We also see this on Guam that some retail stores are over extending themselves beyond what their financial resources can handle.
Q: Is there anything about your business or work we didn’t ask about that you feel would interest the business community?
A: We have a retail tenant mix strategy that targets specific retail categories that are not just to fill up vacancies but to fill the retail spaces with the correct tenant mix to collectively become the retail destination center of choice for a clean and safe shopping experience for their family to enjoy mbj