Real Estate

Jon Altschuler: John Eulich and the “Five-Letter Fax”

Dallas commercial real estate pioneer John Eulich died peacefully in his sleep Saturday, at the age of 86.

Editor’s Note: Dallas commercial real estate pioneer John Eulich died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the age of 86. Well known and much admired in the industry, the founder of Vantage Cos. got into the development game in 1959. By the mid-1980s, his 80 million-square-foot national real estate empire was valued at $7 billion, according to his obituary. Beyond real estate, Eulich was known as a risk-taking entrepreneur whose 50-year career saw the formation of more than 20 successful companies. Here, D Real Estate Daily contributing editor Jon Altschuler remembers his first interaction with the industry icon.

Jon Altschuler
Jon Altschuler

I met John Eulich in 2002. I was a 30-year old leasing agent, one year out of business school, and his firm’s 25,000 square-foot lease was expiring in less than two years at a building I leased, Park Place on Turtle Creek. Vantage’s expiring lease was easily $7 under market. We had proposed a full-market price, and one of his lieutenants had called me over to discuss our lease renewal proposal.

The meeting was short, and we got down to business immediately—the lieutenant, Eulich, and me. The lieutenant told me our proposed rent was too high. I responded with a convoluted retort about the market, rent comps, the usual leasing-agent speak trying to justify higher rents. Eulich was having none of it. He stopped me mid-ramble, and looked at his colleague, asking if I knew what the “five-letter fax” was. His colleague turned and looked at me. I responded, no, I had never heard of it. Eulich looked squarely at me, smiled, and explained, “Fuck you. Strong letter to follow.” 

We all chuckled. Eulich’s position was clear on our assessment of market rents, and we wrapped up the meeting pleasantly, discovering we were all FIJI’s. Ultimately, we didn’t make the renewal; Eulich ended up building his palace next door. I enjoyed many fun interactions with him in the years to follow, but I never figured out how that response came to be known as the five-letter fax.

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