Hall Story – Video Transcript

Craig Hall (00:00:01):
In hindsight, I made a million dollars by the time I was 21, but I didn’t go into business to make money. That’s only part of the story.

He impresses you instantly when you meet him.

Bob Cohen (00:00:13):
And I told Zu, I says, I’m met the most amazing guy. I said, I may be working with him.

Scott Hall (00:00:17):
What was it like growing up with Craig ?

Suzie Ebbing (00:00:21):
He was not overwhelmed by anybody’s name or status.

Tom Jahnke (00:00:24):
I’m sure you’re familiar with the basic story.

Mike Jaynes (00:00:26):
He is the visionary

Kim Butler (00:00:28):
Craig Hall’s hallmark is that, you know, you never know.

Larry Levey (00:00:32):
Very motivating.

Mark Depker (00:00:34):
Five steps ahead of all the rest of us.

Don Braun (00:00:35):
Very thoughtful.

Mike Reynolds (00:00:36):
24 hours a day is thinking about the next idea.


Male Interviewer (00:00:39):
This man you’re looking at now. In 1985,

News Reporter (00:00:41):
Craig Hall has been considered a business Mark, a wonderful

Craig Hall (00:00:46):
The window of opportunity is now. Craig

Various Voices (00:00:48):
Hall has big plans for his Craig Hall company with special partners.

Kathryn Hall (00:00:55):
That’s probably the only person in Dallas who had never heard of Craig Hall. Never heard of him.

Craig Hall (00:01:00):

News Reporter (00:01:23):
Just look how far we’ve come.

Female Narrator (00:01:28):
The Hall Group was founded by Craig Hall in 1968. The story of the company begins with the idealistic vision of a teenager who wanted to make a difference.

Craig Hall (00:01:43):
I was born in 1950, grew up in the 1960s, which were a very, uh, exciting time to be in Ann Arbor.

Scott Hall (00:01:50):
World War II was a over in this big industrial machine that had been built to when the war was being converted to private enterprise. It was a very vibrant, anything can be done. Very exciting time.

Female Narrator (00:02:04):
Craig’s parents met in the Navy during World War II. After the war, his mom became an art teacher, and his dad worked for a camera company.

Scott Hall (00:02:16):
Life was Leave it to Beaver. You know, I hate to say it, but I I was the classic older one, and Craig was the Beav. Growing up with Craig, I suppose, was like growing up with any other brother. There’s a pain in the neck, but in Craig’s case, it was really an expanded, exacerbated pain in the neck,

Craig Hall (00:02:40):
Pain in the neck to everybody around me.

Scott Hall (00:02:43):
And by the way, we were dressed the same a lot. My god, little sailor suits alike. , no, no, no.

Craig Hall (00:02:53):

When I was very young, I was diagnosed with a form of childhood epilepsy. I remember going into a seizure and waking up in a hospital.

Scott Hall (00:03:00):
Phenobarbital was the only means of dealing with it. And it’s, you know, it’s a drug that just dulls your senses. You know, you become lethargic and, and non-functional.

Craig Hall (00:03:13):
For that reason, I tended to either be the class clown or I chose a, a lot of days to just not show up.

Scott Hall (00:03:20):
School was always a much more difficult situation because it required somebody else other than Craig to be in charge. And, and Craig was never really good at taking direction. He was a terrific pathfinder, but a lousy gun bearer. He was very much somebody who marched to a different drummer.

Craig Hall (00:03:46):
In, in hindsight, I was always pretty entrepreneurial. And perhaps because I didn’t excel at normal life, if you will, I coped by, uh, among other things, starting little businesses. When I was, uh, growing up, uh, in Ann Arbor, there was a corner drug store that my brother and I used to go to. Gosh, almost every day. He was owned by a guy named, uh, Mr. Schurz. One day we saw a sign that said, going out of business. And I thought, wow, this is terrible. I, I used to go in there to buy Green River drinks, and I went to talk to Mr. Schurz and I said, what are you gonna do with all the Green River syrup? I negotiated with Mr. Schurz. He wanted a dollar. I got him down to 50 cents, and that was my first real entrepreneurial business. It was a good business, and I was free labor. My only problem was I realized when I ran out of that syrup, I was out of business. That was it. So I kept doing small business things to make a little money. I had my lawn mowing business, a few paper routes, I had a coffee soup business, and I went door to door selling Cutco knives.

Scott Hall (00:05:08):
The thing that’s interesting is to take a look at not only who Craig is, but also the times he grew up in. Craig, was deeply moved by causes of purpose.

Craig Hall (00:05:22):
I had a deep seeded fire in my belly that said I have to prove myself someday that I’m not the loser that I was in school. That I wanted to make a difference in a positive way for other people. From a standpoint of an actual occupation, I thought being a social worker, or believe it or not, a politician. The city had a program where all the high schools would vote on a mayor for a day who would be elected from the high schools. Despite all my problems in school, actually with my father’s help, I ran for mayor for a day of Ann Arbor. When I was a senior, the student, uh, tenants at the University of Michigan were actually having rent strikes, and they were very upset over the conditions and the prices of student housing. I thought that’s a great issue to run for Mayor. Uh, thought, wow, no problem. I’ll solve that. The actual mayor was with me the whole time, and he, he started with a cup of coffee. I, I, I think I probably had, uh, hot chocolate. I was presiding over the city council and I brought up the issues. How are we gonna solve the tenant for problems in housing? And I must say I was pretty disappointed because they didn’t have any real good answers. I mean, we had a whole day to work on it and, uh, we just didn’t solve it.

Female Narrator (00:06:51):
Craig often says that being Ann Arbor’s mayor for a day changed his life. His desire to solve student housing issues led him to his first real estate purchase.

Craig Hall (00:07:00):
I decided after that, that I would, um, take all the money I had saved, which was a little bit less than $4,000 and go buy, uh, a rooming house and prove that you could be a good guy, landlord. You could give people, uh, places at a really fair rent and take good care of ’em and, um, that everybody could win. I set about to do that when I was 17. I drove every real estate broker in Ann Arbor nuts, and there was only one, Bernice Schneider, who would talk to me, and I think it’s cuz she had no other clients and she was desperate to try to do a deal. Ultimately, after, uh, about a year of looking at over a hundred places, we finally, uh, locked in and bought 427 Hamilton Place.

Scott Hall (00:07:56):
And of course he had no bank credit, so he negotiated a land contract where we buy it directly from the owner. This is where entrepreneurs do business. Two people together saying, yeah, I I’ll trust you kid. I I will trust you. I’m gonna give you a shot. Gimme that four grand and you got a deal. It was a big first step and he was still a kid.

Craig Hall (00:08:21):
I was enrolled at the University of Michigan and working as a full-time dishwasher at the same time I was setting up and selling limited partnership interests to other students and using the money to buy rooming houses on campus. He said, for $200 you can become a partner with me in this building and all the money will get 80% and I’ll get 20% and I’ll get a management fee and we’re all gonna get rich.

Singer (00:08:51):

Craig Hall (00:09:03):
Eventually I got up to 20-something properties and then I started managing properties for other people. My accounting department was a shoebox and it had bills in it. As the money came in. I paid whoever had called most recently. Great system.

There was a great article about me in the Michigan Daily, uh, newspaper, uh, front thing. It’s a Craig Hall youngest landlord. Now that led to a huge problem. The tenant union was still going strong and they wanted to break some landlord. Shortly after that nice article, the and our tenant union voted to rent, strike my buildings, and they went around and they picketed me. There was no real dealing with the organizers. Day and night, I would go out until very late trying to find residents that were willing to talk to me. I’d try to find out what their issues were and I would try to solve them those days. And many times since have had situations that have just seemed like I got hit in the gut. You just, um, figure out solutions and you work it and you work it and you work it and you don’t stop until you, um, get through it. So I heard about the availability of this very rundown property. My whole business in those days was based on taking distressed real estate ’cause that’s all I could afford to buy and turn it around. I went to Detroit. I met with this partner in this big law firm. He said to me, I understand you’re interested in buying our apartment building, uh, in Ypsilanti. Yes sir, I am. Tell me a little bit about yourself. And I explained to him I had no money and I was in pretty heavy debt and owned a bunch of, uh, old, uh, crummy buildings that might fall down anytime. And, uh, he said, well, it sounds to me like you’re a suitable buyer, . And, and, uh, I thought, wow. I mean, I was honest with the guy. I was 20 years old and, uh, I bought, uh, a property that had three mortgages on it, all of which were in default. But the cool thing is, I was the proud owner. I met Mark Depker in, uh, 1970 at Eastern Highlands. Pretty good looking guy, uh, kind of always, uh, sort of a ladies man. Mark was living there and, um, working there as a maintenance man.

Mark Depker (00:11:42):
I, Uh, remember he, uh, had a Ford Thunderbird Backseat was full of mc empty McDonald’s bags. And, uh, I thought, you know, he’s, he’s my kind of guy. My balcony is a perfect place to put big speakers and have garbage parties.

Craig Hall (00:11:58):
I would later find out that I was paying him to be a maintenance man.

Mark Depker (00:12:03):
We’d have the parties all night.

Craig Hall (00:12:04):
And then he and his roommates were drinking so much beer on weekends that they were kicking the holes in the hallway.

Mark Depker (00:12:11):
And the next morning I would get up early and, uh, go around, uh, fix the windows that were broken and, uh, try to get the property in shape.

Craig Hall (00:12:28):
When I was buying a lot of apartments, I had various things that were quantum leaps. At that point, I had had enough of all the student headaches and the unique problems. And so I basically just decided I’m going to phase out of that business and phase into real people housing. And Honey Tree was a much bigger property and it was an all adult, not student property, it was $10 million. It was the first Quantum Leap.

Mark Depker (00:12:52):
Honey tree, it was a big purchase. It was 766 units I recall, and had a huge amount of physical challenges. That’s what Craig got his, you know, his mojo on was buying a property and seeing the future of what we could turn it into.

Female Narrator (00:13:17):
Craig’s first Quantum Leap made him a millionaire at age 21, but real estate wasn’t the only thing Craig was investing in. He was open to other interesting opportunities.

Craig Hall (00:13:27):
I was approached by some people. An idea that Racquetball was a new hot craze.

Larry Levey (00:13:33):
Sort of like, um, squash, sort of like tennis, but indoor.

Craig Hall (00:13:38):
We built a couple of racquetball clubs and they were doing very well. And, uh, one day I was talking with my, uh, best friend at the time, a guy named Marty Rom. I said, well, let’s make a list of companies that have names that would be good for the racquetball business and maybe we could license their name. And the number one on the list was a time incorporated. They owned Sports Illustrated Magazine, life Magazine, huge company. Marty called the Switchboard at Time Incorporated in New York and said, who runs your venture capital area? And they said, Henry Lu III. So Marty, believe it or not, gets him on the phone. Marty starts saying, do you go by Henry or Hank? And he said, well, I go by Hank. He said, well, Hank, I wanna tell you about Craig Hall. I’m sitting there laughing. Next thing I know he gets an appointment to see the head of venture capital for Time Incorporated when he gets off the phone. I said, Marty, I can’t afford a ticket to New York. He said, not only that you get said you’re gonna have to pay for mine too. We got to New York. We met with Hank Lu and Young Wong, we noticed, uh, Hank had three martinis at lunch and he wasn’t done. And Marty Rom is like, uh, telling Hank how great Craig Hall is and you know how great racquetball is. And Young Wong as they’re taking notes and, and, uh, Hank is having martinis. And next thing you know, by the end of the, the lunch, Hank says, okay, we’ll we’ll do it. The lawyer for Time Incorporated couldn’t believe that Mr. Lu agreed to this. And as a humorous thing, he hand wrote on a yellow pad of paper. He said, here’s the deal. You get to pretend you’re us and use our name and we give you a million bucks. You know how, how many lunches do you go to where you’re done with lunch? You’re a million dollars richer and you get to use their name for your letterhead and everything else.

Suzie Ebbing (00:15:56):
The court club was racquetball, aerobics and entertainment. Men came in during that seventies time in short shorts and a t-shirt and all the women had leotards, tights, shorts.

Craig Hall (00:16:09):
I got to hang out with all these athletes,

Suzie Ebbing (00:16:11):
The baseball players, a couple basketball players, and we had some celebrities.

Craig Hall (00:16:18):
It would be a huge company today except for one thing. The racquetball business was a fad.

Larry Levey (00:16:23):
The industry went south. Everybody that had a racquetball club was closing them up all over the place.

Craig Hall (00:16:30):
We had 17 of these clubs and uh, we were losing money and ultimately Time Incorporated paid us to take their name back. And it was a multi-year interesting experience. And, and you know, I don’t regret any of it. My wife and I in 1974 were driving from Ann Arbor to the airport and we drove by a property called Knob on the Lake. Huge property, uh, at the time by far the biggest in Michigan. But it was obvious it was in trouble because the parking lots were pretty empty.

Mark Blocher (00:17:12):
They were just having all kinds of problems getting anybody to live out there ’cause it was way out in the Exces way outside of the Detroit metropolitan area.

Craig Hall (00:17:20):
This was at a time when there was a, um, Arab embargo of oil, uh, and gasoline prices were very high and any property that was that far away from employment was destined to fail. I called, um, some of the guys at the office and I said, I just drove by a property, find out who owns it so that we can figure out how to buy it.

Ron Berlin (00:17:44):
Knob on the Lake was developed by Frank Vogue. My wife was the granddaughter of Frank Vogue.

Craig Hall (00:17:51):
And he was 79. I was 24. So we had a lot in common. , not really, he didn’t wanna sell it, but he, uh, was behind on a number of mortgages. After being thrown out of his office, literally three or four times.

Ron Berlin (00:18:07):
I only heard the Frank’s side of it. And telling us a little bit about this little pip squeak coming in, wanting to buy his property.

Craig Hall (00:18:14):
I finally convinced him that I was the only chance he had of not ending up in bankruptcy. I gave him a $300,000 note. I had no money. And I told him I would work to keep all of his creditors off his back.

Ron Berlin (00:18:28):
Craig won him over as Craig does. He has, uh, a sensitivity to understanding his seller.

Craig Hall (00:18:34):
We’re told by everybody after we bought it that you just bought a lemon. And I was changing things to tree anyway, so I changed it to Lemon Tree.

Mark Depker (00:18:42):
Let’s make lemonade and call it Lemon Tree.

Mark Blocher (00:18:49):
The biggest thing about Lemon Tree was the way that was focused on marketing.

Mark Depker (00:18:54):
We had lemon drop bowls. We even had a parade that came down the street and through lemon drops.

Scott Hall (00:19:00):
If you had a problem that needed to be fixed by a maintenance guy, you could call it lemonade.

Suzie Ebbing (00:19:05):
We had a lot of social events. We had ice cream socials, Lemontree was aggressively marketed on the radio, tv. I know we had newspaper ads,

Mark Blocher (00:19:16):
But more than that, uh, the biggest thing was that we focused on explaining why you wanted to live out there. Craig was the one that thought, well, you have to change people’s mindsets. He, you know, advertise, you go out to the lake on the weekends, why not live where you got a golf course and a lake and all that kind of stuff. And people started thinking, hey, that’s not such a bad idea. I mean, it’s worth paying a little bit for gas to live at that kinda of a place.

Craig Hall (00:19:48):
Ultimately, we not only turned the Lemon Tree around, but we raised $3,300,000 of equity. And we did that through a tax shelter syndication. I made a lot of money ’cause I met a guy, his name was Arthur Klurstein, tax lawyer. And he said, you can’t do these things for free. And he said, you gotta charge a fee. And I never thought of that, but it was a good idea. And I showed him the syndication that I had in mind and he said, well put a $600,000 fee in there for yourself. I thought, wow, really? Anyway, I did and I got paid $600,000. So, uh, that was a pretty cool thing. Um, so after that I continued with that kind of program. It was a good idea.

Ron Berlin (00:20:33):
That was the nucleus of building the portfolio, being able to bring together a securities division that would raise money for the properties that we would, and that’s the growth that occurred between 1974 and, uh, let’s say, uh, 1984. That tremendous growth was fueled by more, uh, of the tax incentives than anything else.

Craig Hall (00:21:08):
In the late 1970s, I wanted to be a national company. We started expanding into Indiana, Illinois. We became the largest owner of property in the state of Arizona. We, in very early 1981, opened an office in Dallas.

Larry Levey (00:21:23):
At that time, Dallas was a candu. Detroit was a cannot do.

Don Braun (00:21:28):
Dallas seemed actually the perfect spot. You know, it’s Texas, it’s always, even back then felt entrepreneurially welcoming.

Female Narrator (00:21:37):
So Craig and the executive management team decided to move the company headquarters to Dallas.

Craig Hall (00:21:47):
We moved about 90 families.

Tom Jahnke (00:21:49):
It was hotter than Blazes.

Don Braun (00:21:51):
It wasn’t South Fork Ranch in any respect. So that was quite a surprise.

Larry Harris (00:21:55):
I looked at my wife and I says, what’s, what do you think? And she says, let’s move.

Tom Jahnke (00:21:59):
I knew I had to buy some cowboy boots.

Ron Berlin (00:22:01):
It was hotter than hell. I wondered the first month, what the heck did we get into?

Don Braun (00:22:05):
It was scolding hot, scolding hot.

Mark Blocher (00:22:07):
I I actually liked it. Yeah, especially like the weather.

Craig Hall (00:22:11):
You know, some people say it’s hard to break into a new place. Dallas was very welcoming to me.

Ronald Reagan (00:22:22):
Good evening. I’m speaking to you tonight to give you a report on the state of our nation’s economy.

Craig Hall (00:22:27):
After Ronald Reagan became president, there was an effort to get the economy out of the doldrums, and they passed the Economic Recovery Act of 1981. It looked like it could have been written to help people who were doing what we were doing. We were using tax benefits as a way to raise capital to buy apartments.

Tom Jahnke (00:22:48):
You form a partnership agreement and you would go offer people an opportunity to become limited partners.

Ron Berlin (00:22:55):
A Doctor or professional, in most cases that had, uh, high taxable income, would place an equity interest in a partnership and receive the benefits offsetting his tax liability.

Craig Hall (00:23:08):
In real estate, we were given shorter depreciation lives so that somebody could put a dollar as an investment in and they could get $2 of tax write off that same year,

Bob Cohen (00:23:18):
A person could put a hundred thousand in and get $200,000 deductions. So in effect, you put in nothing. And then you’ve got the, the tax benefits.

Craig Hall (00:23:27):
All real estate is concerned about investors. There are two important questions that they ask. First, when is a good time to invest? And second, who with? As far as when is a good time to invest, I can’t think of a better time than now. Who do you invest with? Well, I’m biased. I think Hall Real Estate offers investors a great opportunity because we truly care. We have financial strength, but most importantly, we have people strength.

Ron Berlin (00:24:01):
Most people don’t realize that by early eighties, the portfolio tipped almost 88,000 units of multi-family, uh, at that time, which was a phenomenal growth.

Mark Blocher (00:24:14):
We could barely keep up with the demand for our investment products.

Craig Hall (00:24:17):
I knew almost all of the investors personally. Uh, we had a little over 10,000 investors.

Male Speaker (00:24:25):
The cornerstone of Hall Real Estate’s Profitable Ventures is our onsite team of property management professionals. Our property managers both at our apartments and our office buildings, are supported and guided by property vice presidents who are seasoned veterans. Properties owned and managed by Hall Real Estate are run in a caring, hands-on responsive manner.

Larry Harris (00:24:49):
And we had a box on the wall that said “We Care” and there was a suggestion box.

Mark Depker (00:24:53):
The “We Care” creed, the “We Care” plaques on all the properties.

Larry Harris (00:24:58):
We cared about someone’s maintenance request. We cared about someone’s issues that they had, and we addressed them. I think the management philosophy was, was top-notch from start to finish.

Craig Hall (00:25:09):
We were planning to not just grow and be big, but to be good. And we created a university for training for our property managers. Our vision was to create a large operation that was really quality.

Mark Depker (00:25:24):
Everything from then on that we would purchase, we’d renamed to, to tree names. I thought it was pretty, pretty neat, pretty creative. The feeling was trees create shelter and shade and the trees were a good fit for an apartment property for a name.

Don Braun (00:25:40):
Could move from one city to the next. And, you know, recognize there was a tree and the name of an apartment and therefore that branded that as a Hall type property.

Female Interviewer (00:25:49):
Tom, can you, uh, rattle off some tree names for us?

Tom Jahnke (00:25:52):
Oh my goodness. Yeah.

Suzie Ebbing (00:25:55):
Okay. Lemon Tree

Mark Depker (00:25:57):
Green Tree,

Bob Cohen (00:25:58):
Wind Tree and Plum Tree. Peach Tree and,

Mark Blocher (00:26:01):
Oh, I just do ’em alphabetical. Ash Tree, Amber Tree, Aspen Tree.

Mark Depker (00:26:05):
Some that just didn’t seem to fit with a tree name.

Larry Levey (00:26:08):
West Tree.

Don Braun (00:26:09):
Crystal Tree.

Larry Harris (00:26:10):
Copper Tree. Lodge Tree. Harvest Tree.

Mark Blocher (00:26:12):
Carriage Tree. Desert Tree.

Larry Harris (00:26:15):
Pebble Tree. Oak Tree.

Mark Depker (00:26:17):
Oh man, I need Larry Harris here.

Larry Harris (00:26:19):
Bramble Tree. Bent Tree

Suzie Ebbing (00:26:22):
. I’m so bad at this.

Tom Jahnke (00:26:25):
Pine Tree. Oak Tree.

Larry Harris (00:26:27):
Spice Tree. Plum Tree. Willow Tree.

Mark Blocher (00:26:29):
We wanted to buy properties that were all for adults and we wanted to call it “Adult Tree” .

Receptionist (00:26:41):
Good afternoon, Hall Real Estate Group.

Craig Hall (00:26:43):
We were growing like crazy.

Ron Berlin (00:26:44):
The pace that Craig set was beyond belief.

Bob Cohen (00:26:48):
Everything was expected. There was no, I can’t do it. Everybody had to work and work very hard.

Ron Berlin (00:26:55):
There was many nights that we would have board meetings until two in the morning, three in the morning, and turn around and come back at eight o’clock in the morning.

Larry Levey (00:27:02):
He motivated you, made you think you can do more than you could do. And looking back with history, it it is like, well, we did that . We didn’t know how to do that. It didn’t matter.

Suzie Ebbing (00:27:21):
I think all of us thrived on it. It became like an adrenaline, you know, who could work longer, harder, you know, who was there on Saturday and Sunday. And it was fun, but it was addicting because you could see the success.

Tom Jahnke (00:27:33):
We would set goals and everybody go back and really focus on hitting those goals. And when you hit ’em, boy you felt great.

Mark Blocher (00:28:00):
We were all working very hard, but we were all young. We were having fun, you know, so, you know, we worked hard and played hard.

Craig Hall (00:28:06):
At that time. We had a private airplane and we used to have, um, year end parties with our investors. And we literally would be flying from one party in Atlanta to the next party in Detroit to the next party in Dallas.

Larry Levey (00:28:19):
It was one day there and back. ,

Bob Cohen (00:28:22):
I guess we only allow one day off per party. So he did all one day.

Tom Jahnke (00:28:30):
My guess is that Craig felt to be a Texan. He needed to be ti tied to something big and the Cowboys is about as big as you can get in Texas.

Craig Hall (00:28:39):
I became a part owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and I guess that made me a Texan.

Bob Cohen (00:28:44):
It was nice because he had a box as part of it. We went few games as much better in the box than sitting out to the stands.

Ron Berlin (00:28:53):
The euphoria during that period of 74 to 84, we believed that we could have lavish parties and celebrate the successes along the way. It was only right to give them to the employees, uh, and show

our gratitude towards them.
Craig Hall (00:29:07):

They were really great times, really great times.
Male Narrator (00:29:24):

In the early eighties, the Texas economy was a steamroller that wouldn’t be stopped until 1986 when the bottom fell out. This financial depression was caused by over-building and speculation that caused real estate prices to plunge as much as 60%. The dramatic drop in oil prices, retroactive changes in the tax laws, and the collapse of the savings and loan system.

Male Interviewer (00:29:54):
Let me tell you that this man you’re looking at now, in 1985 had 60,000 apartment units

Craig Hall (00:29:59):

Male Interviewer (00:29:59):
Controlled $3.5 billion in assets.

Craig Hall (00:30:04):
Very, very good numbers

Male Interviewer (00:30:05):
Chokes out. What do you think about it?

Craig Hall (00:30:07):

Male Interviewer (00:30:07):
And, uh, turned around one day and

Craig Hall (00:30:09):
Well, we saw, we saw in in early January, 1986. Uh, the whole world changed in Texas. Uh, it really started before that. And, uh, we went through a very tough, uh, few years here. A lot of people in the country don’t realize how bad Texas was.

Ron Berlin (00:30:22):
Craig was one of the first people in, um, the United States basically to come out and say there was a problem.

Dick Hyman (00:30:30):
He’d raised his hand really early and basically said, look, we’re gonna have major problems as a result of this. New legislation as a result of overbuilding is about, of lacks, um, underwriting, uh, standards in the S and L industry. People didn’t really like him for that.

Craig Hall (00:30:46):
January 10th of, uh, 1986, I wrote a letter to our 10,000 investors.

Don Braun (00:30:55):
Classically, Craig, you know, it’s just, we gotta be transparent. We gotta tell everybody what’s going on.

Craig Hall (00:31:00):
I got a call from Steve Brown from the Dallas Morning News, uh, who said, hey, I got a copy of this letter you wrote. I’d like to come meet you and talk to you about it. I was always very open to the press in the interview. I said, I think that we may be facing 600 million or so of mortgages that we need to restructure, and that I think the whole savings and loan industry is gonna be facing serious problems. The next morning I opened the Dallas Point News and the cover of newspaper says, hall may have falled on 600 million or something like that. It was not a complimentary, uh, title that led to a firestorm that didn’t stop for years.

Don Braun (00:31:40):
I remember picking up the Wall Street Journal. There we are on the left side, which is the, you know, a major story side of the front page of the Wall Street Journal, you know, front and center. Here’s Hall Hall’s got a problem. And, uh, you know, it really mad it sense, uh, sound like it was really our isolated problem. The industry was, you know, sound and solid, uh, when anything could be, you know, farther from the truth. At that time, we were the canary in the coal mine.

Craig Hall (00:32:09):
I had people in my corner, but I had a whole lot of people who just thought it was impossible. I remember one article talking about, uh, Craig Halls just moving, uh, around the deck chairs on the Titanic, and his company will never make it

Male Speaker (00:32:26):
Once at the pinnacle of success, Craig Hall guided his company to safety while others crashed.

Male Interviewer (00:32:32):
Why did you not go under, like everybody else went under? Well, not everybody went under, but most, most did in that kind of, well, that kind of figures anyway. Well,

Craig Hall (00:32:39):
Fir first of all, you know, financially is one thing. I think surviving is a matter of, uh, psychologically as well as financially. And, uh, I was fortunate and I still have problems. I’m not over all the problems. No, no one in the real estate business is, but if you are honest and straightforward and you try to deal with them, things usually work out.

Male Interviewer (00:32:56):
You had, uh, you had a a very good track record of making a great deal of money for a lot of people. I did. That’s how you got to where you were. Mm-hmm. all of a sudden you had to pick up the phone and say to those people, uh, excuse me, but

Craig Hall (00:33:08):
That’s right. And, and it was a, a tremendous personal struggle. I went through a depression. Uh, personally, I went through a lot trying to do what was right for investors and our lenders. And, uh, it’s been a, a total turning upside down of of life.

Don Braun (00:33:22):
I knew personally how difficult it was for him, uh, in the sense of, because I know he had been, um, advised much earlier in the, you know, kind of workout period that, you know, maybe the best thing to do, Craig, is for you to file personal bankruptcy, get this all behind you quickly cleanly, and you can start again. And I, I know how kind of vehemently he rejected that as sort of not the right thing to do. People

Ron Berlin (00:33:48):
Knew we were trying our hardest, uh, we were struggling to, uh, uh, deal with the, the change in laws and communication was the biggest item that we could give them in terms of letting them know at all times where they stood, what it meant, even though the news was bad.

Craig Hall (00:34:06):
As the partnerships, uh, had financial difficulties, uh, we tried to get lenders to restructure loans. One of the things we did to, uh, help encourage lenders was we would put more money in

Dick Hyman (00:34:21):
Craig funneled almost all of his own money, money he’d made over the years back into these properties.

Craig Hall (00:34:26):
We had no legal obligation, but we had a moral obligation. The investors were extremely gracious and very supportive of us. I used to keep books, uh, of letters. I had over a thousand letters from investors giving me encouragement. And I used to read those, uh, a lot when things were pretty rough and a tough time. And I think it helped me, I think it helped others in, in our company to know that, uh, people were grateful for what we were trying to do when we had to shrink and let people go. That was one of the hardest parts of my

Mark Blocher (00:35:08):
Career. Not only was it horrible trying to deal with the stress of, of all these modifications you had to deal with all your friends being laid off.

Don Braun (00:35:18):
It was really a painful process, really a painful process.

Suzie Ebbing (00:35:21):
There was a lot of empathy and that started from the top down. I probably wrote about 50 letters of recommendation, but here’s something really awesome. Craig signed everyone and added personal notes to people.

Craig Hall (00:35:36):
So I think that helped. Going, going above and beyond what you normally get from an employer.

Suzie Ebbing (00:35:41):
We closed everything and including myself, , it was laid off. I knew I had the tools to offer another company and was not concerned with the future. More sad. We lost a family. We lost a way of life.

Male Interviewer (00:36:02):
After the severe decline in real estate values, hall Financial Group restructured more than 1.5 billion of debt. With the help of its lenders overhead was cut by more than half, from over 40 million to 17 million a year. The company loaned 145 million to help the partnerships meet operating needs in restructured loan terms. Also, the partnerships received an additional 44 million from existing investors.

Mark Depker (00:36:30):

Ron Berlin (00:36:31):
Dark days are what really set Craig apart from others. Being able to face those adversities and not back away, not run away, not take the easy road out, but deal with them directly.

Mark Depker (00:36:45):
We could have shut out the lights many times in the eighties and he just, he was, he’s not a quitter. And his creative, uh, capabilities are just off the chart. He would tell the attorneys how to handle the, uh, you know, the legal cases, the legal, the bankruptcies. He was such a student of every aspect of the business. Couldn’t handle maintenance. So that’s one area that I, uh, uh, I, I beat him at that game.

Craig Hall (00:37:19):
Right at the end of that terrible time, something pretty wonderful happened.

Kathryn Hall (00:37:23):
I was running at the time, uh, for mayor of Dallas and Richards, who is governor and running for reelection, had said to me, there’s this guy and I think you should talk to him about contributing to your campaign. And his name is Craig Hall, and by the way, he’s cute. I called and I said on the phone, this is Katherine Kane, my name at the time, and I’d like to talk to you about my race for mayor. And Craig said, oh, I’d like to talk to you about that. And other things, , I thought other things, okay.

Craig Hall (00:38:03):
When she came into my office, she looked every bit the part of a future mayor. Just a charming, wonderful person. So, you know, how can you not be impressed? Not to mention she’s beautiful. So it all works.

Kathryn Hall (00:38:18):
We walked back into his office and he was just delightful. And he was so young cuz everybody else I had talked to about the campaign was an old guy. I said, I’d like to talk to you about my campaign. And he says, well, what’s the maximum that you can take? And I said, it would be $5,000. I had never had that question before. He says, okay, fine, I’ll give. I thought, wait, wait, okay, I made the sale. What now what? And then he said, would you like to go to lunch, ? And I said, sure.

Female Narrator (00:38:50):
After a few dates, Craig and Catherine decided they were going to build a life together. It was great timing for Craig because although Hall Financial had miraculously survived the Texas crash, there were still more challenges ahead during the savings and loans crisis. Virtually all SNLs in Texas were taken over by the Resolution Trust Corporation. The RTC had been created by the government to manage the crisis resource savings. One of the two SNLs owned by Hall was taken over by the RTC in 1989. Three years later, the government filed a lawsuit against Craig and other directors accusing them of mismanagement, of resource savings.

Craig Hall (00:39:35):
And they sued us on the exact last day of the statute of limitations.

Don Braun (00:39:39):
The government is hot on people’s trails and they’re just looking for scallops all of a sudden just lawsuit, you know, after all of those years was devastating to me. And I’m sure it was, you know, some multiple of that to Craig cuz you know, it’s his, his name is his world.

Craig Hall (00:39:54):
I don’t mean to pretend like I’m a perfect guy. I made lots of mistakes, but I never made a loan to someone because they were making a loan to me. And it was a quid pro quo. That’s what put a lot of people in jail.

Dick Hyman (00:40:12):
He went into default, like millions of other borrowers did at the time. But given his prominence, uh, the RTC tried to make an example out of

Craig Hall (00:40:21):
Him. They went in to federal district court in Dallas to Judge Buck Myers, uh, courtroom. And they said, at 4 45 in the afternoon, we’re suing this guy Craig Hall, and here’s an order we want you to sign to take control of all of, uh, his, uh, assets. The judge said to them, does Craig Hall know about this? Does have you informed his lawyers? And they said, no, we have not. The judge said, I’m not gonna sign this until tomorrow. I want you to inform Mr. Hall and his lawyers that night. Uh, we were informed, and then I had various, um, lawyers including my wife. We spent till, I don’t know, one in the morning or so looking at options.

Kathryn Hall (00:41:03):
It was really a high stress period across the board. It was sort of a job during the day of lawyer. And then also we had just a lot of emotional stuff that would be in anguish going on.

Craig Hall (00:41:15):
And ultimately, I did something that was, uh, really painful for me. I I signed in blank, uh, chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Individually,

Don Braun (00:41:25):
He had to file bankruptcy because the RTC had been given these extraordinary powers. They could basically seizes assets based on an allegation, on an allegation and a very low threshold of proving the likelihood of them prevailing in the, uh, allegation very

Craig Hall (00:41:44):
Low. The theory was that filing bankruptcy would hold off the legal action because bankruptcy law kind of freezes everything in place. And I still had all the assets in my name and I negotiated directly with them.

Dick Hyman (00:41:57):
He had, um, at the time I met him, uh, worked out a deal with the RTC to buy his properties back.

Craig Hall (00:42:05):
They agreed that if I could give them cash of a hundred, 2 million, $500,000 for certain loans that they owned, that they would agree that to dismiss the lawsuit against me for zero.

Dick Hyman (00:42:22):
That was the carrot. But the stick was, if he wasn’t able to do it, he had a multimillion dollar non-dischargeable judgment in bankruptcy, which basically meant he had this debt that would follow him around for probably the rest of his life. It was a crushing, crushing deal that was made with him.

Don Braun (00:42:39):
When something is presented to him, that’s of great challenge. He has incredible laser focus to deal with that issue. There wasn’t anything that was going to get in his way between him and clearing his name.

Craig Hall (00:42:54):
They gave me 90 days to raise that much money. The company that agreed to raise the money was a company called Kid or Peabody,

Dick Hyman (00:43:00):
Which by the way, wasn’t easy because first of all, he was in bankruptcy. So anytime anybody is in bankruptcy, it’s a bit more of a challenge to get a lender to finance you. And

Don Braun (00:43:11):
We’ve been working on this for weeks and weeks and weeks. Um, and it was complicated transaction, but it was sort of groundbreaking in terms of the financial structure that what we were employing at the time.

Dick Hyman (00:43:22):
Don is spectacularly detailed and thoughtful when it comes to numbers. The folks at Kidder thought that the numbers were wrong. They spent days trying to go over it to prove Don wrong. Well, he wasn’t, but they went overtime.

Don Braun (00:43:37):
I remember, uh, you know, being at that closing, every seat was taken. You know, there were, and people standing around. Craig

Dick Hyman (00:43:43):
At this time had suffered from kidney stones. He was hospitalized at some point. So on the final day of the closing, he’d come out and he was pretty ashin faced, pretty weak.

Don Braun (00:43:54):
We weren’t sure we could make the wire deadline.

Dick Hyman (00:43:56):
They continued to think something was wrong. So we missed the deadline. And then about a half an hour after the deadline, the banker probably say, okay, we’re ready to fund.

Don Braun (00:44:08):
And we called the rtc, our representative at the rtc. And

Dick Hyman (00:44:11):
I remember the lawyer saying, we’ve completed our transaction. We are ready to wire you the money. Will you accept the money? Now they had no obligation to accept it anymore. Time was up. If they didn’t do it, properties are gone. And Craig has a 30, 40 million debt with assets.

Don Braun (00:44:31):
There was really, you know, really enormous consequences to it.

Dick Hyman (00:44:34):
I looked over at Craig and he was already ash and faced from his kidney problems, but if he could have been even more so, he was, and everybody was holding their breath. And then after what it was an interminable pause, the RTC lawyer finally said, yes, we’ll accept the funds. The collective sigh in that room probably could have been heard five miles away.

Don Braun (00:45:01):
Man, it was a euphoric moment. This cleanse the company, uh, in a large way Craig’s personal issues were resolved. The RTC issues were resolved. You knew at that point, okay, if we can ride out of this and, uh, you know, get back to work and do some other things.

Female Narrator (00:45:26):
Craig and Catherine were married at their home in 1993 and Craig got back to doing what he does best, looking for turnarounds.

Craig Hall (00:45:34):
My plan was to come back. My goal was not to be large, it was to be successful.

Scott Hall (00:45:45):
I got a, uh, flyer. It was a listing for the sale of St. Paul plays.

Dick Hyman (00:45:52):
There were two buildings which were substantially vacant at the time.

Craig Hall (00:45:56):
We all knew it was a risky thing, I suppose, to buy an empty building, but, uh, how much worse can it get?

Dick Hyman (00:46:04):
I’m generally the one that throws shade on a lot of Craig’s ideas. My pitch to him was, Craig, why do that? Why not put the same amount of capital into something that’s much more cash flow oriented?

Craig Hall (00:46:16):
There are some people on our team that were more excited than others,

Dick Hyman (00:46:20):
But that’s not Craig. Craig is somebody who likes the challenge, likes the the home run deal.

Don Braun (00:46:27):
We bought St. Paul Plays first and we bought Hardwood, you know, shortly thereafter, not too long thereafter,

Craig Hall (00:46:31):
Together they were a little over a million square feet and we added parking for both of them. We changed the lobbies. We did what we’ve always done. We tried to see something that can be improved and make it better.

Dick Hyman (00:46:46):
Sure enough, leased them up, sold them at a perfect movement in the market and made a fortune.

News Reporter (00:46:59):

Craig Hall (00:47:00):
Bought a, a number of pieces of property in Frisco and we sold most of them. One we decided to keep and develop was because I thought it would be fun and a bit of a challenge to do a development of, uh, primarily office space. And our property was a cow pasture.

Ron Berlin (00:47:22):
What the hell are you doing buying this track of land, uh, cows out there? Have you lost your mind? I think

Mark Depker (00:47:28):
Some, he was crazy.

Craig Hall (00:47:30):
Not some people, everybody.

Larry Harris (00:47:31):
Why on earth would you buy real estate? Almost to

Craig Hall (00:47:34):
Oklahoma? Then I decided we should build a building. And so we figured out an area and where we’re gonna build a hundred thousand square foot building.

Scott Hall (00:47:44):
We had no loan, no tenants, and no road.

Kim Butler (00:47:49):
I remember brokers telling me, can you believe Craig Hall is building way out north? We

Mark Depker (00:47:56):
Stood where the building would be and scratched our head and just thought, wow, this is, this is quite a challenge.

Kim Butler (00:48:02):
Well, why would I take a client out there to lease space? You couldn’t even get there except by a dirt road.

Craig Hall (00:48:08):
I believed it would work. We built the building. It’s finally finished. It’s hu a hundred percent vacant. We have a, uh, grand opening party invite all the brokers.

Mark Depker (00:48:22):
We had food.

Craig Hall (00:48:22):
We had these big shrimp bowls.

Mark Depker (00:48:24):
We had band playing. It

Scott Hall (00:48:26):
Was fully decked out. We

Mark Depker (00:48:27):
Had banners on the building

Scott Hall (00:48:29):
And there were more hall people there than, uh, guests. I think

Mark Depker (00:48:32):
Four people showed up.

Craig Hall (00:48:34):
It was a disaster.

Female Narrator (00:48:39):
Around the same time that hall was breaking ground out in Frisco. Another interesting opportunity came along.

Kim Butler (00:48:46):
I started my career in downtown in the mid eighties. It was actually a good time to learn the business, but a very painful time if you were actually in the business and had money at risk cuz it was a terrible recession. I had seen eyesore that sat here for years and years, favorably referred to as Stonehenge.

Don Braun (00:49:06):
All these pillars were sticking out of the

Craig Hall (00:49:07):

Kim Butler (00:49:08):
It was rebar and concrete, and

Craig Hall (00:49:10):
Then below grade, uh, seven stories of underground garage.

Kim Butler (00:49:14):
It was the infrastructure plan for the building that just never occurred.

Craig Hall (00:49:17):
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, they were gonna build two 50, uh, story office buildings, uh, 2 million square feet on some land in the arts district. Metropolitan decided in 1986, I think, to stop construction. By 1995, they made a decision that the market was still terrible and they’d rather just take their loss and walk away. And that’s when I was approached. Uh, would I be interested in buying it?

Don Braun (00:49:46):
It was a very distressed sale, a very opportunistic purchase. Immediately we went and hired an architect to start to try to figure out how to develop this site. Of course we didn’t develop it for, you know, 20 years later.

Female Narrator (00:50:04):
Meanwhile, Craig and Catherine were ready for a new adventure. They were both friends and supporters of US President Bill Clinton, and began discussing the possibility of seeking an ambassadorship with the Clinton administration. That conversation included which one of them should vie for the opportunity to serve.

Craig Hall (00:50:23):
That was a fairly brief conversation. Here’s a person who has a law degree, has run her own business.

Kathryn Hall (00:50:31):
Part of my life’s been in Europe,

Craig Hall (00:50:33):
Ran for mayor of Dallas,

Kathryn Hall (00:50:35):
Spoke other languages

Craig Hall (00:50:36):
And has a lot of political strengths. And then on the other hand, here’s a guy who just got outta bankruptcy, dropped outta college. Probably has some people that don’t like him or are mad at him. You know, cuz it’s been through a rough time.

Kathryn Hall (00:50:50):
Call came and it was, would you like to go to the ambassador? To Austria?

Female Narrator (00:50:55):
Kathy accepted and Craig asked Don Bran to step into the role of President of Hall Financial Group.

Don Braun (00:51:01):
To me, it was a great honor and that, that Craig Wood, uh, you know, placed that responsibility on me. Not only, uh, the fact that he had named me president, but that he was leaving the country.

News Anchor Ashleigh Banfield (00:51:12):
When the president needed to appoint a new US ambassador to Austria, he called on a Dallas woman.

News Anchor Steve Eagar (00:51:17):
He named Katherine Hall. To that post, Fox fours. Barbara White traveled to Vienna for a behind the scenes look at Hall’s New Life,

Female Speaker (00:51:29):
The United States of America, ambassador to Austria, Catherine Walt Hall.

Kathryn Hall (00:51:34):
We are in the age of public diplomacy.

Female Speaker (00:51:37):
Nice to meet you. Very grateful to the United States. They always send strong women’s Austria

Kathryn Hall (00:51:42):
. I am very proud to be here this evening. It was a time for me that was profound life-changing. We were able to get treaties signed. We did work on the Holocaust to give a measure of justice to the survivors and relatives of the survivors. We had policies in Vienna that brought together young people from warring countries who today I’m sure are in political leadership positions like

Female News Anchor (00:52:15):
Other US ambassadors before her hall is a media star. Friends in Dallas may call her Kathy here. The proper way to address her is


Waltraud Lenchofer (00:52:24):
Always your excellency, or, Madam Ambassador period. And her husband, well, he can say whatever he wants to say.

Female News Anchor (00:52:32):
Craig Hall left his real estate firm in Dallas to join his wife in a supporting role.

Craig Hall (00:52:38):
It’s certainly a, a reversal for me. Um, but, uh, i, I both, uh, respect and, and love my wife a lot. So, uh, because of that, uh, you, you know, it, it is not an easy thing or something that I naturally fit into.

Kathryn Hall (00:52:55):
The adjustment was hard in, uh, something for which I will always be indebted to him.

Female Narrator (00:53:13):
Meanwhile, the rest of the Hall Financial Group team was quite busy out in Frisco.

Male Speaker (00:53:19):
The work is going on high in the air and on the ground to meet the high demand for office space in the platinum corridor. Eventually there’ll be almost 20 buildings on this 162 acre side in Frisco

Kim Butler (00:53:30):
Hall. Added a building almost every year after that first building the low rise and the mid-rise building, sometimes two in any one year. You know,

Mark Depker (00:53:41):
Sometimes if you build it, they will come. And I think he was the build that they will come. Guy of Frisco.

Craig Hall (00:53:46):
Our vision was to create, uh, a great environment for people to work in a place where when they walk outside at lunch, they can go sit by a lake and look at some art and a place that is got trails. Early on at Hall Park, uh, we started buying art and, um, we had one area that we wanted to really celebrate. Texas artists,

Female News Anchor (00:54:11):
The Hall, office Park unveiled its Texas Sculpture Garden today, the only private art collection of this size in Texas that’s open to the public. It features 100 pieces of art throughout the grounds, including contemporary works by some of Texas’ most important artists.

Larry Harris (00:54:34):
It’s like a snowball rolling downhill. The momentum out there, everybody makes the comment of when is it gonna stop, you know, and I don’t think anyone really knows. It just seems like it just keeps going and going and going.

Female Narrator (00:54:50):
After four years of foreign service, Craig and Catherine returned to the States. They built a house in California and embarked on a new business adventure together.

Andrea Immer (00:55:02):
Welcome back. Now let’s visit a Napa Valley home. Owned by a couple who’ve conquered both the worlds of politics and business, but found their true calling, making wine. In 1995 financier, Craig Hall and his wife Katherine, a former ambassador to Austria, purchased their 19 acre Napa Valley Vineyard and began producing several excellent wines under the Katherine Hall label.

Mike Reynolds (00:55:27):
When Craig and Kathy were getting married, uh, Craig actually asked Kathy what she wanted to do with the next phase of their lives. And Kathy had grown up in the wine business and she looked at Craig and she said, I

Kathryn Hall (00:55:39):
Just wanna make great cabernet. And Craig was interested, but it didn’t make his heart sing. What I have since realized is that the reason he didn’t make his heart sing is I don’t think Craig thought it was big enough.

Mike Reynolds (00:55:52):
When I met Craig’s at the time, I was running a pretty big wine operation. I had 250 employees and 5,000 acres of vineyards. And part of the motivation to leave there was that I wanted to slow down. And at that moment in time, uh, Craig and Kathy were thinking that we would have, uh, small winery with five employees. It would be on the hill. We’d make a little bit of expensive wine, and it would be a very, uh, nice, easy life, easy job. And, um, Craig says that it’s one of the greatest lies he’s ever told, because that changed quickly after I arrived at the winery.

Craig Hall (00:56:35):
We built a small winery in Rutherford, really had great caves, beautiful winery, but it just felt like we should do more.

Kathryn Hall (00:56:45):
He started to get interested when we decided to grow, to really grow.

Mike Reynolds (00:56:52):
One day I was, uh, with Craig and, uh, he had just gotten a package for a piece of property that was for sale in St. Helen. It was an old winery, the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery, which had existed there ultimately back to 1885,

Mark Blocher (00:57:09):
Comparable to Lemon Tree. He’s driving by this dilapidated old winery in St. Helen, Helen, and thinks, huh, I ought to buy that and turn that into a real winery.

Mike Reynolds (00:57:19):
It was the first moment where I really understood that maybe this was not going to be the small boutique winery little brand that we were talking about.

Craig Hall (00:57:30):
We transformed the rundown Stina Winery into the very technologically winemaking facility and created a great guest experience with lots of art gardens and just a wonderful overall experience.

Female Narrator (00:57:58):
The country was headed into the great recession of 2008. Hall had challenges during this period, but also made some important investments along the way.

Don Braun (00:58:13):
The.com era had sort of been peaking and you know, at that point, you know, we felt maybe there might be an opportunity and we put together a business plan that said, you know, we were gonna go out and try to accumulate, uh, various software companies that, uh, became available on a distress basis.

Craig Hall (00:58:30):
In the early two thousands, we bought a small company called Sky Wire, which was a software company. It was tiny, it had very little revenue. It didn’t grow much. What changed, it was acquisitions. And we bought, I think 12 or 13 smaller acquisitions and put them all together.

Female Narrator (00:58:51):
At the same time, hall was also investing in the stock market, trying to be opportunistic.

Dick Hyman (00:58:56):
There are two things about his investing style. He’s a contrarian and he also is a gut investor. So both of those two things led him to American Airlines. Craig had a spectacular idea in buying American very, very low and increasing his position and wroted from something like $6 to something over 40. And I think at one point he was the largest individual shareholder of the company.

Male News Anchor (00:59:20):
And to United Insiders we go. Craig Hall, founder of the Hall Financial Group, one of the largest individual shareholders in American Airlines. Have you been inclined Craig to sell any of your a m r stocks

Craig Hall (00:59:30):
Recently? Uh, if anything, I feel very, very, uh, positive about it. Uh, I think that, um, a number of airlines will do well, but American, I, I still feel very confident about. I was borrowing money against American Airlines and was using that cash for, uh, other assets. Ben Bernanke gave a speech that, uh, subprime wasn’t going to be a big problem for the overall economy. When he gave that speech, I knew that was wrong. That got me thinking about how to increase our liquidity because I knew we had a, a huge amount of debt

Don Braun (01:00:08):
Ended up selling Sky Wire, uh, to, uh, Oracle. And, uh, we were able to close that transaction in, uh, July of 2008 for 240 million, uh, which was a significant amount of money for us at that time, and still is today, of course, but a very significant amount of money and the world’s financial markets were collapsing at that point in time. Like we’d not seen it before. Had we not closed the sale of Sky Wire to Oracle in July, result of the company, you know, would’ve been dramatically affected.

Craig Hall (01:00:41):
Sadly, American Airlines didn’t turn out so well. Well, actually it was kind of a disaster

Dick Hyman (01:00:46):
When the recession started to hit that $40 went back to $6 and finally insolvency, uh,

Craig Hall (01:00:53):
Essentially it went bankrupt. I sold out at $1 or something.

Dick Hyman (01:00:56):
Everybody thought Craig was wrong. Well, fundamentally he was right. Uh, he just wasn’t right at the right time.

Don Braun (01:01:02):
The Great Recession was, was a difficult time and, and difficult for the company, but it was a worldwide event. It wasn’t, uh, an isolated situation for an industry or a company. Uh, and didn’t really, in my mind, wasn’t nearly as difficult as the 19, late 1980s.

Craig Hall (01:01:27):
And we started a lending business in 1995, hall Structured Finance for a number of years. We made loans based on a word of mouth basis and not in a huge volume.

Dick Hyman (01:01:37):
After the recession of 2008, 2009, the capital cost of doing construction loans became greater for banks. So banks started pulling back and that’s when Craig really saw the opportunity to begin to step it up because there was a void in the financing world. You know, for, uh, for a lot of construction lending.

Mike Jaynes (01:01:55):
Our target is not the borrower that’s been that, that can go to a bank based on its wherewithal and balance sheet. Ours is to focus on the B tier borrower, the one that is not quite institutional enough to go that route, but still has a track record. They can build, operate hotels or apartments or student housing condominium projects. And that’s our niche. That’s our niche.

Craig Hall (01:02:26):
Well, we did about 300 million in hotel construction loans last year, which surprisingly made us the third largest in the United States. This year we hope to do about 500 million. It’s a hard business, but we’re good at it and we know what we’re doing and it’s profitable, very profitable.

Mark Blocher (01:02:50):
Paul Park has 17 office buildings, multiple restaurants. We’re planning a hotel, we’re planning an event center for the art and music, uh, venue. You know, we’re planning more buildings.

Craig Hall (01:03:03):
We’ll end up with about eight to 10 million square feet when we’re done. And, uh, my grandchildren and their children will really be happy. It’s gonna be another 25 or 30 years of construction.

Kim Butler (01:03:14):
Call park is what people think of when they think of Hall Group, just because of the tenure and the longevity of the development. They’ve seen it come online over 20 years and they identify Craig Hall as being the visionary. He did what No one thought could be done

Craig Hall (01:03:34):
Better by good luck than by design. Truth is, we did start it before anyone else did anything in Frisco, but I had no idea Frisco last year was the fastest growing city in the United States. It’s crazy. Sometimes you just get lucky and I’ll take it anytime.

Mike Reynolds (01:03:59):
When I first met Craig and Kathy, we always said internally that what we wanna be is the next great Cabernet Sauvignon of the Napa Valley. But we said it really quietly because I think it was maybe a bit presumptuous, uh, for us to set a goal. So hot

Craig Hall (01:04:16):
In 2009 at Christmas time in the, uh, cold, uh, of San Francisco. Kathy and I are out walking and we get a call on our cell

Mike Reynolds (01:04:26):
Phone. Wine Spectator picked our 2006 Catherine Hall in their top 100 wines of the year. It was the number 20 wine of the year

Kathryn Hall (01:04:37):

Thought we’d gone to heaven. We literally both between, Hey, you know, it was the first high rating we had gotten in a wine.

Mike Reynolds (01:04:46):
And then about a week later, the wine enthusiasts picked a wine called Excellence from 2006, which was, uh, a new wine that we’d made and it was their number one wine in the world that year. I think that was the moment where people took notice of our brand and of our wines, and we really started to get traction in the broader world. The next milestone would’ve happened in 2013, and I got an email from Steve Leveck,

Steve Leveque (01:05:19):
Did like a double take, a triple take, and said, Mike, you have to go online and see if this is for real, cuz I thought I was maybe hallucinating.

Mike Reynolds (01:05:27):
One of our wines got a hundred points from Robert Parker. I remember the phones were immediately ringing off the hook.

Craig Hall (01:05:34):
Then we got our second 100 point, then our third. We’ve got something approaching 300 over 90 now, but I’ll never forget that first one in San Francisco. I’m grateful for what we’ve achieved so far in the wine business, and at the same time, I’m very excited about the opportunities to do so much more in the future.

Female Narrator (01:06:06):
Stone hinge, the abandoned garage that hall purchased in the mid nineties was destined for something great. They just had to wait for the perfect timing.

Kim Butler (01:06:16):
Craig Hall thought that it was a tremendous piece of property based upon the fact that all of the arts were being consolidated in this arts district in Dallas. Craig had this plan for this incredible office building with restaurants right there just in the heart of the Arts district.

Mark Blocher (01:06:36):
He just had a immense respect for the Arts District venue and wanted it to be compatible and helpful, you know, to the city. And to be successful, we had to really have the rest of the arts district flush out. Just in the recent years, did the other projects in the arts district finish up.

Craig Hall (01:06:53):
The Dallas Arts District is a great place of these beautiful, uh, architecture buildings. Uh, sir Norman Foster, one of the most famous architects, uh, did the opera building, uh, rem cool house, uh, from the Netherlands, did the theater building Im Pay, did the, uh, symphony building. Those three buildings surround our property, and it gives you this, uh, eerie kind of awesome feeling of responsibility,

Kim Butler (01:07:31):
A moment of great pride for me, and I know for Olive Hall and Craig especially, is the groundbreaking for Hall Arts. It was wonderful. The mayor was there. Everyone who had worked so hard to make it possible was there and it was just a very special moment in a special place.

Craig Hall (01:07:50):
When we’re all done, we’re gonna have a roughly a billion dollar project in a real wonderful, beautiful area of Dallas.

Kim Butler (01:07:59):
Craig has often told me, you know, Dallas welcomed him when he came here from Michigan. He wasn’t from here, but that didn’t matter. He was committed here to doing business and doing business the right way. And so people embraced him and I think he felt like leaving some sort of legacy and doing something very special in Dallas proper was important because that’s where he started the company here in Dallas, his home.

Craig Hall (01:08:31):
Ever since I was a teenager, I had a deep-seated view about responsibility of all of us to help each other. In 1974, when I was 24 years old, I started our first foundation, which to this day continues, we try to do things to help our communities that we work in and also to help areas that we believe in to make the world a little better. Hall Group is a team effort, always has been and, uh, always will

Don Braun (01:09:08):
Be. A lot of people ask me about, why have you stayed with the hall for 38 years?

Dick Hyman (01:09:13):
Quality of integrity, consistency, loyalty. People want to be associated with that type of, uh, uh, a vision, that type of a leader.

Mike Reynolds (01:09:22):
I think that’s what keeps people coming back, is that shared core values. He

Mark Blocher (01:09:28):
Always gives people an opportunity to grow and

Scott Hall (01:09:31):
Expand. I’ve been with him from Racquet Falls to apartments, to office, to syndications to the wine business, and that’s a lot of ground.

Mike Jaynes (01:09:41):
He demands a lot out of his folks, but at the same time, you know, he gives a lot and he cares a lot about those folks as well.

Don Braun (01:09:48):
It’s always been different, challenging, uh, and, uh, uh, exciting.

Mark Depker (01:09:54):
There’s so much history there. So many people, a 25 year people, 30 year people. I, I had a maintenance supervisor from Spike Street. Worked 40 years with us, you know, that’s, that’s family.

Larry Harris (01:10:07):
I stay here because I know it’s a caring, caring company. I’ve seen people get married, I’ve seen people have children. I’ve seen their children graduate. I’ve seen their children have, you know, have, uh, grand babies. You know, uh, you know, I’ve seen it all. Hall

Mark Depker (01:10:23):
Is ingrained in my heart and my soul.

Craig Hall (01:10:26):
When I look back at 50 years, I feel very lucky and privileged to have, uh, had this, uh, ride. And it’s, it’s a milestone. A lot of companies don’t last a year, let alone 50 years. I’d like to hope this company has another 50 years and many more after that. My

Kathryn Hall (01:10:44):
Hope for whole group in the future is that it continues to be charged with the excitement and the creativity.

Suzie Ebbing (01:10:53):
I just hope it continues to grow, thrive. I hope the family atmosphere stays.

Mike Jaynes (01:10:59):
We’ve added a lot of young people and you like to see these, these folks that like being around each other, not only during the work hours, but um, they like to, uh, you know, to play together as well.

Ron Berlin (01:11:17):
I would say if I was a guessing man, that Craig still has his yellow pad, he still demands early Monday morning meetings. Maybe not at seven o’clock, it might be at eight o’clock.

Kim Butler (01:11:32):
I don’t know exactly what it’s gonna be in the future. I just know that it’s gonna be of high quality and that those of us who are gonna be involved are gonna have a lot of fun.

Craig Hall (01:11:42):
No doubt it’ll change and, uh, be a whole different company, um, over time. But, uh, there’s a lot of strong, great talent here, a lot of wonderful people. And, um, it’s an exciting time. So, uh, here’s to all of you who’ve been part of this ride and who’ve really made, uh, this overall, uh, experience so great for so many. Thank you. Thank you.

Singer (01:12:17):

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