Master Builder

The Story of America's Largest Real Estate Empire


I work in a spawned web of a very successful lineage of real estate partnerships. I say “partnerships” because this is the system that Texas’ Trammell Crow, one of the most esteemed real estate developers in history, built to unfurl a deep bench of skilled real estate professionals. Fueled by autonomy and regional know-how, Trammell Crow structured partnerships with numerous people and let them build out their own businesses. With limited crossover amongst partners, geographical ownership and siloed incentives and teams, Trammell Crow was able to unleash a force multiplier of big outcomes and big companies across the globe. From Crow’s partners spawned even further downstream partnerships, thus creating a perpetual and intricate web of fresh partnerships and companies. From the 1988 archives, Elizabeth Hudson shares a bit about the Texas Tycoon, “Crow, 74, has spawned a new generation of real estate developers, former partners who have become formidable giants. Two of the largest real estate companies in the United States, Vantage Properties and Lincoln Property Company, are owned by former partners John Eulich and Mack Pogue, respectively.” Mack Pogue is still the founder and chairman of Lincoln Property Company to this day.

I work at Lincoln Property Company and can still sense the deep roots for which the company has built its foundation. Based in Dallas, TX, when you go into the Lincoln Property Company headquarters you feel like you are getting a sense for how Texas has evolved. The office is a showcase of West Texas cultural appreciation and the preservation of its founding cowboy roots. It’s one of the coolest things about working at a 55 year old company that has built real estate and shaped many of our US cities - there’s a deep level of respect for the past and the desire to help our cities evolve.

When I come to headquarters and walk around, I often find some hidden gems and receive tidbits of age-old wisdom. There are a few quotes in the analysts’ office from Trammell Crow and its as if you can hear him saying it when you read them.

“Walk slow around me & fast around everyone else.” “Pick your partners very, very, very carefully.” -Crow

Crow must have had a way with words but he was a man of action. That’s the Lincoln way as well and I can see how the culture he built so many years ago has remained intact and been passed down to the partners further down in the chain. Today, I see how the Lincoln partners build their businesses and continue to thrive, taking the best of the Crow philosophy and adding their own personal flare. It’s incredible to watch the master builders continue to proliferate.

If you are a student of the real estate game, the book Master Builders is certainly for you. If you want to read it, you can buy it here on thriftbooks.com or here on Amazon. Be prepared though, it’s not cheap. Surprisingly, I have not read it yet but I feel fortunate to be living a small piece of it by working at Lincoln Property Company.

Photo by Shreyas shah on Unsplash