Back in the mid-1990s, Emmitt Smith began to think about life after football. A star running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Smith always knew he loved the game. Now it was time to discover another passion. He spoke with former pro athletes about what they were doing, how they had achieved success 2.0.
One player had gotten into commercial real estate out east. “He broke down the development business for me, and how it translated into dollars,” Smith says. “He was making some significant capital—more than he ever did in football.” At the same time, Smith was approached by Cypress Equities, the retail development arm of The Staubach Co., about investing in some of its funds, which he did.
A few years later, it was time to really get serious; Smith gave “The Legend” a call. That’s his name for Roger Staubach, the former Cowboys quarterback who parlayed football fame—and a lot of hard work—into what would become the largest tenant representation firm in the country. Smith had interned at The Staubach Co. during the off-season, with the goal of learning the business and proving to others that he was serious about it.
“Seeing what Roger was able to build told me I could do it, too,” he says. “I kept asking myself, ‘Why could I not do it?’ I have a brand. I think I am trustworthy. I just needed to make sure I provided my clients with excellent service. Roger said, ‘I can help you with that.’ And that’s how I ended up in the development business.”
Smith’s empire has since expanded to include construction, building materials, and, now, real estate services. In August, he formed E Smith Realty Partners with veteran Dallas brokers Sharon Morrison and Brant Landry. Along with tenant representation for the office, industrial, and retail sectors, the firm will evolve to provide agency leasing, property management, investment sales, and construction management services. In mid-October, two months after start-up, the company had 15 people on board. It expects to double that within a year.