Posted: January 20, 2017


There’s as much risk in doing nothing as in doing something. – Trammell Crow

Trammell Crow was a famed developer, investor, and executive who for decades built iconic properties and lasting partnerships across the country before taking Trammell Crow Company public in 1997. TCC would sell to CBRE in 2006.

After World War II Crow left the Navy and eventually would build his first warehouse in 1948. By 1970 his firm had become a national developer which was unique at the time given that most developers were local or regional. By 1971 Crow was considered by many to be the largest landlord in the US an unofficial status he would again receive in 1986. Crow once had interests in 300 million square feet of developments comprised of 8,000 properties in 100 cities.

Traditionally, developers worked in mostly a third-party capacity using other people’s money. Crow realized one could make a great living this way, but couldn’t build an empire. With the help of deep pocketed investors like David and Winthrop Rockefeller, Crow would hold his assets following development noting: “You can get rich selling real estate, but you can only get wealthy by owning it.”

Trammell was famed for his ability to work with partners and nearly always did. His ability to build lasting friendships and find win-win scenarios for he and his partners would earn him a loyal network of friends and professionals to do business with. His partners allowed him to take on some risk and Crow would become one of the first developers to build assets that didn’t already have tenants calling himself “a confirmed gambler, a speculative builder.”

Trammell Crow’s legendary career is a rags to riches story of a man who grew up in Dallas in a three-bedroom house with his eight other family members. With no connections Crow relied on hard work ethic by plucking chickens and cleaning bricks before landing his first “real job” at Mercantile bank. In 1940, Crow would join the Navy and serve in World War II before launching his real estate career in 1948 when he made his first (in-part) speculative development.

Trammell Crow passed away in 2009 but he left a lasting mark on the Commercial Real Estate industry. Known for his vision, boldness, kindness, and risk-taking, Trammell Crow would build an empire in this great industry through entrepreneurial grit, work-ethic, and smarts.

His spirit and passion for the real estate business is best exemplified in his words:

Work is more fun than fun.

—Trammell Crow

Trammell Crow