Broker Spotlight: Richard Crunkleton

Richard Crunkleton, CCIM

How did you become interested in commercial real estate?

I was busy doing other things in life related to construction and development when I came across it. My interest began when I started purchasing value-added properties and fixing them up—I’d lease and eventually sell them.

I began to think that doing deals like that every day would be a fun way to make a living. Soon after, I pursued my real estate license and earned my CCIM designation. It feels like this business was personally made for me. I’m able to work with numbers and people—two things I love.

What were you doing before you discovered commercial real estate?

Great question. I had a number of “day jobs” that led me to where I am today. My background is in Civil Engineering. In fact, I earned my degree from The University of Kentucky in that field. I knew I wasn’t going to work in that industry full time after graduation, but I did a lot of design work while in school for different co-op engineering firms. What really appealed to me about those types of jobs was working with numbers.

I’ve worked in Atlanta at a construction consulting firm, in Dallas with a developer, and ended up in Columbus, Ohio at a highway contracting firm. Columbus was where I made my next big career move by purchasing a Stanley Steemer franchise. My wife Nancy and I ended up moving to Montgomery, Alabama and running that business together for 10 years. She ran it on her own for another 10 when I moved on to commercial real estate.

How did you end up in Huntsville?

Well, at the time I was unhappy in Montgomery. I knew the Huntsville market pretty well and I saw opportunities.

We didn’t know anyone in the area, but we quickly became involved. It wasn’t long before we started Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate. We knew shortly after that we wanted to grow the business.

What do you think contributes to a successful commercial real estate business?

In commercial real estate, you have to offer exceptional service in areas like leasing, property management, selling of properties, and development. But really the value lies in providing industry knowledge to your client and applying that knowledge to deals that will maximize their benefit.

We care a lot about our clientele, and we have had the pleasure of working with some of them several times.

What do you love about your job?

Every day is a new challenge with different opportunities. Figuring out how to make a deal work well for everyone is what I love the most.

Sometimes a client will come to you and not know exactly what they need. You have to take the time to assess the situation and discover what that is. You have to find out what’s important to them so you can draw lines in negotiations.

I really enjoy working with people and helping them discover their needs so a mutually beneficial deal can be made.

What would you say to someone who is interested in becoming a broker?

You need a passion for it. It has to be something that you wake up every morning wanting to do. You also have to be prepared to work on the same deal for a long time. Things in this business don’t happen overnight. Actually, the longest deal I ever worked on took more than 9 years to complete. But the deal worked out well.

Patience and attention to detail help make deals successful and advantageous for all parties involved.

What do you think contributes to Huntsville’s continual growth?

This city is always asking what they can do to make more of an impact—to make things better. It’s an extremely supportive community when it comes to new endeavors and ideas. It’s that outlook that makes growth possible.

I always encourage people to serve on local committees or boards. Nancy and I have been involved with the Huntsville Museum of Art since we moved here. It’s where we have developed many friends and business relationships.

We consider ourselves very blessed and we enjoy giving back to the community. No matter how much you give, you always get more back.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

Spending time with Nancy and my family is very important to me. And, many people don’t know this, but I used to drive race cars—Porsches mostly. I quit driving in 2010, but I’ll always love it. I also love spending time at the family farm and I cherish the memories we’ve made there.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS


Trend Report For 2018: A Pivotal Time for Brick and Mortar Retail

Possibly not since the first enclosed mall opened in 1956 in Edina, Minnesota, has brick and mortar retail experienced such a pivotal point in its history. Most would attribute the changing retail environment to the effects of e-commerce and the Goliath that is Amazon; however, we believe there are more powerful factors at work.

In-store brick and mortar retail sales accounted for more than 89% of total retail sales in 2016, and early indications seem to point to 2017 being the best holiday shopping season in 4 years. So, if people are still shopping at brick and mortar stores, why do we hear the term “retail apocalypse” every time we turn on CNBC or pick up a Wall Street Journal?

The End Of The Department Store Era—Not Brick And Mortar

What we are seeing is not the demise of brick and mortar retail, but more the end of the department store era. Department-store-anchored malls that sold everything from apparel and electronics to furniture and home appliances dominated the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. But specialized big-box retailers have steadily eroded the department store model over the last three decades.

Eventually, we were left with malls anchored by department stores that focused on just a few categories centered on apparel. Does this mean that we will soon see the end of department stores and enclosed malls? Yes and no.

We will continue to see enclosed malls struggle to compete with convenience/grocery-anchored centers, experience-based shopping destinations, open-air lifestyle centers like Bridge Street Town Centre, and local specialty destinations such as The Garage at Clinton Row. Many malls will be able to adapt and survive with the addition of entertainment venues, hotels, and even office space. Others will simply disappear from the landscape to be replaced by a more modern retail and entertainment experience as we are seeing take place at the site of the old Madison Square Mall.

As far as the old department store is concerned, we are already seeing the same type of adaption into a more mixed offering of services and experiences. Many department stores are starting to reduce the size of the sales floor to make room for cafés, salons, pop-up shops, and even fitness concepts. Not all department stores will survive, but the ones that do will be more focused on the high-end specialty categories and customer experience. Instead of existing for exclusively for retail sales, they will provide a total experience and numerous services in one convenient location.

What Does The Future Look Like?

What can consumers expect the retail environment to look like in the future? Currently, the trend is what is called omni-channel retail. This is a combination of brick and mortar stores with online and mobile sales. As evidenced by Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, e-commerce retailers are getting into the physical storefront game. It appears they understand the value of physical storefronts and their impact on the bottom-line. Sure, online shopping is convenient, but does it result in sales?

Research has shown that over 40% of items purchased online are returned. Furthermore, consumers make a purchase at a rate of 20% of the time when they walk into an actual store. That rate drops to 3% when visiting a website. The successful retailer of the future will be able to combine online, mobile/social media, and physical locations to create a positive experience for the customer.

One issue that is flying under the radar is the new tax reform bill and its impact on retailers. A reduction in the corporate tax rate could have a significant influence on the ability of brick and mortar retailers to compete with e-commerce retailers. With the reduction of the corporate tax rate, the savings experienced by the retailers can be used for an investment into omni-channel/mobile platforms, upgrading stores, or simply lowering prices to compete with e-commerce.

A Theme Of Adaptation

In conclusion, we continue to believe that the future is bright for both retailers and landlords. Once again, the theme continues to be adaptation. Traditional retailers are building their online presence and e-commerce retailers are getting into the bricks and mortar game. This environment creates opportunities for landlords that have the vision to meet the changing demands of consumers and the needs of the omni-channel retailer. It’s certainly an interesting time in retail, but one that can bring exciting changes to the benefit of everyone.

 Have questions about the changing retail market? Wondering how you can adapt in 2018? You can contact Zac at or by calling 256-536-8809.

Originally from Tennessee, Zac studied business management at Samford University. After moving to Huntsville in 2001, Zac started out his career in banking, wealth management, and financial planning. In 2010 he joined Crunkleton and has since become the VP of Leasing for the commercial real estate group where he focuses on retail leasing and development.

Zac Buckley
VP of Leasing
Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group

Merry Christmas From Crunkleton!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our office family here at
Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group!

We hope the love, laughter, and joyful memories you make this holiday season are with you throughout the year. Here’s to a wonderful 2018!

– Eric, Zac, Richard, Wesley, Alex, Shelby –
– Amy, Lauren, Anusha, Haley –

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A Very Happy Thanksgiving From Crunkleton!

With the holidays quickly approaching, we are reflecting on the many things we have to be thankful for this season. This year has been filled with exciting projects, new team additions, and much more.

Here are just a few of the reasons we are thankful:

The Addition Of New Businesses To Huntsville/Madison

Many new businesses have joined the Huntsville area this year. From first-to-Alabama eateries to clothing boutiques and medical offices, Huntsville’s growth has been impressive. We are always excited to work with incredible business owners and visionaries.

Restaurants like Wayback Burgers, Honest Coffee Roasters, and Frios joined the Huntsville scene this year (as well as many others), while Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza expanded to an additional location in Madison.

Downtown has seen a lot of growth, as well. Shops at The Avenue like Scout & Molly’s Boutique, Zoom Indoor Cycling, and Church Street Purveyor are now open and welcoming new clientele and guests.

And there’s even more to come! Very soon, the Rocket City will enjoy the grand openings of Oshi Poke Bowl & Sushi, Baby Bite Bake Shoppe, Soda Jerk, and J. Kennedy Clothing Company. These businesses span across the city, and we can’t wait for them to open their doors.

Welcoming New Team Members

This year, Crunkleton welcomed three new team members and celebrated the promotion of Lauren Plott to Property Manager.

Haley Clemons joined the team as the new Marketing Coordinator, Shelby Smith brought her talents to the Office Manager position, and Alex Oden became Crunkleton’s newest Office Broker.

 Announcing New Developments

This year’s major announcement was STOVEHOUSE. As we revive the historic Martin Stove building on Governors Drive, we will continue to update you on what businesses are coming to the project. We have received a lot of interest, and we can’t wait to share it all with you soon!

Enjoying Team Outings

Whether it’s team dinners, enjoying a day outdoors or volunteering together, we are thankful that we have had time outside the office to enjoy each other’s company.

We hope that this Thanksgiving brings you and your loved ones many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving from Crunkleton!

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