Taylor Mabuni ’21: More Than a Carpenter

On a chilly December morning, Taylor Mabuni ’21 pulled up to a house surrounded by construction equipment and film crews. Mabuni leads a team of seasoned construction workers as they take on custom home builds. Many of these renovation projects are featured on HGTV shows like Celebrity IOU with the Property Brothers, Revealed, Help! I Wrecked My House, and First Home Fix. “Most of what we do is the actual building that happens behind the scenes. It’s fun to watch as the film industry collaborates with our construction,” he said. “I tell my friends and family that you might see me in the background on the shows, but the truly exciting part for me is not being on TV, it’s getting to see the end result of projects. It’s so rewarding to see how my skills are a part of giving someone a beautiful home.”

While Mabuni loves his work, it’s not the career he had pictured pursuing when he came to Azusa Pacific University as a trustee scholar. Mabuni entered college with plans for a career in aerospace engineering. However, after interning at a helicopter manufacturing company, he knew it wasn’t the right major for him. Mabuni then tried studying business, before he decided to switch majors to interdisciplinary studies, which allowed him to combine his experience and create his own degree with emphases in applied mathematics, business, and leadership. “I never really fit the mold of any one of those areas. Interdisciplinary studies was the perfect solution,” Mabuni said. “I highly recommend the program because it allows you to gain a broad range of skills from different fields while not being locked in to any one of them.”

While Mabuni finished his degree at APU, he began working for Facilities Management. He had always liked working with his hands and loved to create. After graduating in May 2021, he took a week off to go back home to Kona, Hawaii, then returned to APU to work full time on the maintenance team. Mabuni learned the skills of carpentry and welding, and got to work on many projects around campus like the Shalom Cafe sign. “I told my friends and family that it was just a temporary job, just a way to save up money until I figured out what I was going to do post graduation, but it actually ended up opening the doors for my career now,” he said. After eight months working for APU, Mabuni was approached by a contractor, Bohler Builders Group based in Glendora, where he was offered a job as a carpenter. Less than a year into the job, Mabuni was promoted to site manager.

Mabuni loves that he gets to apply what he learned in his classes at APU. He uses knowledge from his mathematics courses when he uses calculations and diagrams for house blueprints and plans. He draws upon his business and finance classes when he oversees budgets for clients during projects. He also takes what he learned from his leadership studies and applies it as a manager, communicating with others and bringing out their strengths to get the job done best. “People have this perception that construction and college are mutually exclusive, that going into construction after college is a waste of a degree,” he said. “That’s just not true. More than the hard skills, college prepared me to be a critical thinker, problem solver, and communicator. These are skills that I use in my job every day.”

Being a manager provides Mabuni with a great opportunity to share his faith. “I get to reflect the heart of Christ in the way I treat and lead others,” he said. Like many, he grew up in a Christian household but was challenged with making his faith his own when he moved out. “Living on my own was the first time I had to choose what I was going to let take up my time, what I value, if I wanted to continue going to church on Sundays or use it as just another day to do homework and hang out with friends,” he said. “I’m glad I chose to value my faith.” Mabuni began attending One and All church in Upland, joined a small group, and found mentors to pour into him.

Mabuni was never steered toward construction when it came to career advice. He was told that construction is for people who couldn’t make it in college. Yet, at just 23-years-old and less than two years removed from graduation, Mabuni recognizes an important life lesson that he hopes to pass onto others. “Construction has opened up incredible opportunities for my career of working alongside industry leading designers and builders who are regulars on renovation TV shows. But what’s so much more important than that is getting to use the gifts that God has given me in carpentry and the trades to bless others and honor Him,” he said. “I’m passionate about sharing that lesson. It’s not about building homes, it's about pursuing the gifting and passion that God gave to me to work with my hands. There are unique skills and talents God has given to each of us and we get to choose how to respond with what we’ve been given. Using our God given gifts is one of the most powerful ways we can bless others and give all glory to Him.”