How did you become interested in commercial real estate?
My interest in commercial real estate grew from my passion for entrepreneurship.
As a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), I was very focused on classes and groups that fostered a future in entrepreneurship. I ended up earning a double major in corporate finance and taxation accounting—that’s the closest I could get to an entrepreneurship degree locally. I was also the President of the Entrepreneurship Club at UAH during my time there.
When I graduated, I was considering a career in private equity or venture capital because it covered many of my passions—sales, networking, mentorship, and dealing with small businesses.
Crunkleton thought that my background, skills, and interests made me an ideal fit for the job. Turns out they were right, and I have been here working in the industry for more than four years.
The job covers all of my interests and even presented me with the chance to experience new ones of which I wasn’t aware.
What were you doing before you joined Crunkleton?
Like I said, I have always had an interest in being an entrepreneur. When I was in high school, I opened my own landscaping business. It started out by mowing lawns but continued to grow into a full-service company that offered landscape and hardscape work. I ended up closing down the company my junior year of college and purchased a retail business in Chattanooga that sold supplies to landscape contractors. After that business venture was complete, it wasn’t long until the opportunity at Crunkleton presented itself.
It has turned out to be a very fulfilling career, and I feel like I have the personality for it. Even as a kid, I made business cards and would visit everyone in my neighborhood to sell whatever fundraiser was happening at school. I’ve never been shy.
What do you love about your job?
It’s not hard to guess that my favorite part of this job is talking to people. Meeting and interacting with a wide variety of people across different industries keeps things interesting.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to match up two totally different visions for a property, but it’s also fun to make it happen. When you get everyone on the same wavelength, you know you are about to accomplish something great.
What makes Huntsville a wonderful destination for new business?
Huntsville is a great spot for growing businesses because it is so well connected. The workforce is also well educated and we have seen significant growth in a number of industries here.
You specialize in office leasing—what are some recent projects you’ve worked on?
First, I will say that all deals are rewarding in different ways. Some are plain and simple and some require different negotiation tactics and terms. That’s another thing that’s enjoyable about the job.
Most recently, I worked on a very involved project with Dr. Uptagrafft and Innova Primary Care. Being a part of the project every step of the way made it one of the more comprehensive transactions I’ve worked on. I was able to help them with selecting an architect, determining the right foundation of financing, and choosing a contractor that fit their needs.
I think the final product turned out very well. We were able to take their original vision and build upon it to create something everyone was excited about.
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
The most rewarding part is seeing projects come to a conclusion. Whether it’s a large-scale job where we update the entire space or a smaller project, I like to ensure the whole process runs smoothly. I consider myself a quarterback for every deal, and I make sure the right professional team is put together for each transaction.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in commercial real estate?
I’d give the same advice I give anyone who is considering this career. You have to be dedicated, motivated, and patient. If you aren’t patient, this isn’t for you because business doesn’t happen overnight. You have to stick with it and know you are going to encounter problems. You can’t throw up your hands and walk away. Work through them and understand commercial real estate careers are a long-term personal investment.
What do you do to stay on top of your game?
The most important thing I do to grow my skillset is consistent networking. I maintain my network and I’m constantly asking questions about new businesses and industries. By taking the time to dig deep and figure out how different businesses operate, it helps me improve.
What value do you hope to bring to your clients?
When doing business with a client, I like to make sure we approach everything in a logical way and ask plenty of questions. I do my best to make sure things are handled in a way that always benefits them. We may need to do things differently than they have been done before. Just because the traditional approach has worked for others, doesn’t mean it always will. I want to make sure they are protected and every deal is handled with care.
What do you enjoy doing outside the office?
Food! I am a big foodie and I love traveling to different cities and trying new dishes. Experiencing new places, meeting new people, and asking questions is something I am always up for. And of course, I enjoy hanging out with my friends. But really, I love anything to do with food.
I’m on the board of Care Assurance Systems for the Aging and Homebound (CASA) and currently serving as the Secretary. I’ve been a part of CASA’s board for three years and it’s an organization that’s near to my heart due to my own personal experiences.
I’m also involved with the UAH Alumni Association where I’m the First Vice President and serve as Chair of the Career and Professional Development Committee. The largest task of the group is to start a formal mentorship program for alumni-to-student interaction. This gives them a chance to work directly with professionals in the field and gain valuable work and professional experience.
My passions are mentorship and giving back, and I follow through with that by staying involved in these organizations.
You can contact Eric by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-536-8809.
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP