Interview with San Diego based Entrepreneur David Malcolm – President of Cal West Apartments

David Malcolm is a successful entrepreneur and property specialist with more than four decades of knowledge and accomplishments. He acquired his real estate permit during high school, secured his real estate broker’s permit in 1974, and later graduated from the renowned Harvard Business School’s Presidents Program.

Due to his commercial and investment real estate expertise, he was recognized as a Certified Commercial Investment Member by the CCIM Institute, the foremost professional commercial real estate recognition. With his combined qualifications and entrepreneurial drive, Mr. Malcolm has supervised challenging real estate, development, and financial transactions throughout Southern California.

Malcolm has demonstrated a natural capability to identify real estate opportunities over the years that others overlook and maximize their value sets. In 1978, he established his first company, and from 1989 to 1997, he had exclusive rights to Rally’s Hamburger stores in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. As President, he managed over 40 locations and more than a thousand employees.

Owing to his impressive work ethic and outstanding leadership qualities, David Malcolm has held numerous municipal and statewide public offices and was the longest-serving California Coastal Commissioner in history. Today, Malcolm functions as the President of Cal West Apartments, a leading provider of quality rental housing in the greater San Diego area.

Following a lengthy and successful career in the real estate industry, what keeps you motivated?

Since I obtained my real estate license while still in high school, real estate has always offered excitement and fulfillment. When I mention fulfillment, I don’t just mean monetarily! From providing a home to a first-time homebuyer or constructing housing for the homeless, the joy and fulfillment are as thrilling today as it was 49 years ago. There is an old saying, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Real estate has enabled me to give and yet, at the same time, be rewarded both emotionally and monetarily. 

What sets you apart from other experts in your field?

I frequently tell my wife, “My work is my passion.” When your enthusiasm is met by your profession, people take notice. I can unequivocally answer the question, “Why do you get up every morning and go to work”? My clients see my passion and want to be around the enthusiasm in our projects. My hope is that everyone finds joy in their chosen field. I have, and that distinguishes me from most.

You’ve been an influential member of the San Diego community for decades with a track record of assisting others, whether it’s advising a non-profit organization or through a personal financial donation to a worthy cause. How do you balance your philanthropic activities with your responsibilities as the President of Cal West Apartments?

I have a maxim, “The world is round.” What I mean is everything you do comes back to you. If you help others…somebody will help you someday…and unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Others say, “What you sow, you will also reap.” I try to sow joy by helping others, and I can assert without hesitation, I gain more from helping others than those I help. This aids in promoting mental and physical well-being, making it easier to balance work and philanthropy.

What would you say has been the most pivotal part of your professional journey?

It has to be education and mentorship. I had just turned 20 when I got married. Our honeymoon was in Las Vegas for a week, and during our honeymoon, I took my first CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) class. Attaining my CCIM and having several mentors assist me in understanding real estate have been the most crucial elements of my journey in real estate.

What consumes an excessive amount of your time? What do you wish you had more time for?

Email is both a curse and a blessing; it surely consumes too much time. If you add the time spent on email and now Zoom, somebody would say, “You need to get a life.” I am very content to state I believe my life is currently well balanced between work and family. This certainly was not true when I was younger. I was terribly ‘out of balance’ for many years, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve found the right balance.

What three pieces of guidance would you offer to university students/new startup business owners who aspire to become entrepreneurs?

I believe parents often give the wrong advice to their children. They say, “Follow your passion,” I say, “Follow what you excel at.” If you pursue what you are good at, you will be rewarded in numerous ways. Monetarily (you will be compensated more for doing what you are good at), emotionally (we all appreciate acknowledgement, and when you excel at what you are doing, you are recognized for your exceptional work).

Having a few mentors in your field of expertise is priceless. 

Lastly, hard work. It is very challenging to launch a company and only work eight hours a day, five days a week.

Is there an individual or company that has impressed you most with what they’ve achieved?

I could write a book about individuals who have impressed me with their accomplishments. An example of giving would be Father Joe Carroll. Father Joe’s work with the homeless is unparalleled anywhere in the world…and yes, I am aware of Mother Teresa. Mother contacted me in the late 1980s and requested if I would spend a week with her (I am not a Catholic). While Mother Teresa was beyond belief, so is the life of Father Joe.

On the business front, it must be Tawfiq Khoury who developed his company Pacific Scene into “Builder of the Year” for the entire United States. Tawfiq’s business acumen and dedication to family are unmatched.

How should people reach out to you?

My contact details can be found here or on my website.

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