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Lessons Learned from Trammel Crow Company

If you’re not familiar, Trammel Crow Company was one of the largest developers in the country. In the 1980’s the recession crushed them as the value of their developments fell from $2.2 billion to under $100 million.

In 1989, Gary Shafer, CEO of Trammell Crow Company, asked each executive to reflect on their individual and company mistakes and compile them into a document of ‘lessons learned’. 

On May 23, 1989, Gary shared a memo on the lessons learned from the recession in the 1980’s. If you haven’t read through it, do it. It’s fantastic. 

Below are a few of my favorite takeaways from the memo:

  1. Worst case projections from one quarter tend to become best case projections for the next quarter.
  2. Cash is king.
  3. Work renewals hard and early.
  4. Run a lean operation – but do not cut muscle.
  5. Leasing assumptions should be driven by the market, not the proforma.
  6. Do not let competitor’s actions influence your decision on whether to do a project or not.

Regardless of market conditions, this is a great read and something I’ll be revisiting periodically going forward.

Charlie Coppola
[email protected] 


Here’s a link to the full Trammell Crow Memo



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