“Principal secret of his firm's success”
Trammel Crow's management philosophy is simple…"I was brought up to work, that's all," he says. "Work is more fun than fun." And Trammel Crow has had a great deal of "fun" since he entered the real estate development business in 1948, building the most successful company of its kind in the United States.
Like Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, Crow has risen from very humble beginnings. He grew up in Dallas; and, while working during the day as a bankteller, he pursued an evening program in law and accounting at Southern Methodist University. In 1938 he became a CPA.
With the outbreak of World War II, Trammell Crow joined the Navy and, after five years, was discharged as Commander. Two years later, he began to buy excess warehouse space and to lease it out in the Dallas area. His first major project was the now 7.6 million-square-foot Dallas Market Center, considered the largest wholesale merchandise mart in the world.
That marked the beginning for the man who built his empire on three foundations: an unexcelled talent for marketing, a sense of style, and a reputation for intelligence, drive and, above all, integrity. When asked at Harvard Business School gathering for the principal secret of his firm's success, Crow gave a one-word answer. "Love," he replied. Some might find it difficult to believe that "love" could be a part of the "hard-ball" world of commercial real estate; however, according to a Newsweek article, "Crow is almost universally recognized as one nice guy who finished first."
In the truest sense, Trammell Crow epitomizes Babson's definition of an entrepreneur. He has been willing to take risks. He constructed the first, second, and third large atriums in modern edifices, which have proliferated into common usage today. Although Dallas' Infomart, the first of several computer marts to open, has yet to prove its worth, one report stated, "If Trammell Crow can't make the magic of marts work for selling computers, the grand plans of other developers will probably never get off the ground."
Crow's willingness to invest his own money and energies in ventures that have made positive contributions to society mark him as an outstanding candidate for Babson's Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs. And none can refute the fact that it was Trammell Crow who originated and remains the prime mover of the company which bears his name.
In addition to his various mart developments, Crow's less profitable passion is the hotel business, a portfolio of properties that were built primarily to support adjacent Crow developments. Recently, he has established the Crow Hotel Development Company, with the Loews Anatole being its first major project. He also formed the Wyndham Hotel chain which includes a hotel management company.
A modest proposal to build a 150,000 square-foot office building at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Beach Streets was announced last month by the Trammell Crow Company.This will mark the first time that Trammell Crow has built in Boston, although the company has erected some suburban office buildings in the Greater Boston Area.
As one long-time friend recalls, "Back in 1951, he knew what he wanted to do. He wasn't content just to be wealthy; he wanted to be known as the best and the biggest in the world." It would certainly appear that in the field he chose, that is exactly what Trammell Crow has become.