Shawn Todd, CEO and founder, Todd Interests
1. What role did your upbringing have in your pursuing a career in the real estate industry and ultimately founding your own firm?
I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. My Father, self-educated, owned a small General Construction Company that built a lot of Wal-Marts during the mid-late 1970s. They cost about $1 million to build back then. In the late 70s he acquired a heavy-equipment construction company that did dirt work in the oil patch. I spent time as a kid troweling concrete as well as driving heavy equipment. In the mid-80s, when oil prices crashed, he lost everything and filed bankruptcy.
I was destined back to Oklahoma (after college) to work in the family business. Well, it disappeared and God had a better plan. I knew a bit about building and a bit about moving dirt from my upbringing. Baylor taught me how to add and subtract and the principles of finance. Real Estate Development seemed like a good fit for me.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been hired out of college by Bill Foose and Mark Connell to work as their young apprentice at Connell Development – two honorable, smart men that modeled integrity in the work place every day.
I was fortunate enough to have held a job longer than most during the mid-80s real estate crash, but eventually lost my job in 1990. The next day, I started Todd Interests in a free office provided to me by Nathan Maier Engineers, with one phone line that the receptionist answered, “Good Morning, Todd Interests.”
2. In your career, you’ve been a part of some very creative mixed-use projects to historic buildings in our city that preserve their architectural and structural integrity while seeming very inventive and modern. How important is it to you that such projects strike that balance?
The architectural design and skilled craftsmanship of days gone by reflected in our historic buildings are incredibly gratifying to me. There’s definitely a balance of respecting and acknowledging the past and at the same time introducing the present. To that end, we’ve got a great team that makes that part come together.
3. TREC offers several opportunities throughout the year for our members to donate their time, skills and dollars to our various programs, events and initiatives. Why is the PAC such a vital part of our fundraising efforts?
The PAC is an immediate way to get immersed into the issues and opportunities that face our industry. From the political crossroads to state and local policy. Our PAC monies are critical in protecting and enhancing all things near and dear to the real estate industry.
4. What is the best meal in Dallas?
Any Restaurant owned by Nick Badovinus!
5. TREC often challenges our members to “Build the city you imagine.” What kind of city do you imagine Dallas ultimately becoming?
We are rapidly becoming more urban mindful. It’s great to learn and observe from abroad, but we still need to be realists as to our own DNA and fabric as we work towards building a better city. We need a bus system in Dallas that meets the needs of its ridership. We must engage in the needs of others less fortunate with our time and monies. We will not be the city we strive to be if we are absent addressing our present poverty issues. We must have a heart change in each of us before our city will be all that it can be. We are all very fortunate.