Bob Crable: Former NFL pro relying on past experiences to thrive in commercial real estate

Bob Crable

Bob Crable

by Dan Rafter

Bob Crable isn’t afraid to take on new challenges. Just look at his career history.

Crable wasn’t always in commercial real estate. His first job out of college? He was a linebacker with the NFL’s New York Jets, where he played for seven seasons. After his professional football career ended, Crable returned to his alm mater of Moeller High School in Cincinnati. There he coached the football program for 16 years.

Crable also led Crable Investment Group, a real estate company managing a portfolio of five mobile home parks made up of more than 700 units and 900 pads in the greater Cincinnati area.

This experience has been critical to Crable in his current career: a commercial real estate agent at Cincinnati’s Capital Real Estate Partners.

Midwest Real Estate News recently spoke with Crable about his current career and the jobs he’s held in the past that are helping him to succeed today.

An inspirational figure: Quite honestly, I was inspired to go into commercial real estate in part by my father-in-law. He was a banker, and he was involved in commercial lending as well as commercial repossessions and foreclosures. When I was dating my future wife when we were both in high school, we would go over to the office buildings that the bank took over and we would be the clean-up crew. We would go in and sweep the carpet, empty the trash, scrub the carpets. I looked at it as an easy way to make a few extra bucks.

Once I married into the family, my father-in-law had a great influence on my life in terms of the real estate side of things. After I retired from football, he came to me and told me that I should think about getting involved in the real estate business. I found that one of the easiest things for me to manage were mobile home communities. I got involved in one that the bank had foreclosed on. We got a decent deal on it. Managing that mobile home became the beginning of what we do.

A busy career: Today, we are involved in managing five mobile home parks now in the Cincinnati area. They have been very productive for us as an investment. I actually had my real estate license back in 1983. I wanted to get involved in commercial real estate. One of the old pros I knew from football, though, talked me into getting into residential real estate. That didn’t produce anything for me. Well, it produced frustration. That was about it. I let my license lapse and got out of the business altogether.

Then in the 1990s and early 2000s, I got involved in mobile home parks. The parks have been good to us investment-wise.

The right tenants are key: It can be a tough business. It’s like managing apartments, people have issues all the time. I am on site at the parks three days a week. We have a manager who works with us. When someone comes in, they say ‘I want to see Bob.’ The people who take care of their homes and obey the rules, they are the great tenants. I love to see them come through the park. There are some good, good people involved in these communities. There are some people, though, who try your patience. They take you to the point where you are about to snap. That is in any business where you manage people, of course. The key to easing the stress of managing mobile home parks? It’s all about finding the right tenants.

The football factor: My football experience has helped me in my career. It’s the determination that helps, the effort you have to put into accomplishing a goal. Football is about drive and not giving up. So is commercial real estate. Football is an aggressive game, and my business mentality has always been a little more aggressive, too. We used to have a sportswear business before I got into real estate. My father would look at me and shake his head. He’d say, ‘Son, you are going too fast.’ We finally got to the point where he understand where I was heading in my business philosophy and I understood where he was with his. He passed away in 2004. I know that he would have done so well with the mobile home parks.

Avoid the curse of narrowmindedness: You really have to work if you want to develop your livelihood. Don’t be so narrow-minded about your business. It’s not just about making money right now. It’s about developing long-term relationships and planning for future business.  You need to take off those blinders a bit if you want to succeed. If you treat people right, treat people fair and show them respect, you will have a much better chance to succeed.

Off-work time: When we are not working, my wife and I just like to spend relaxing time together. We might sit together and watch a sitcom or two. We might watch a movie. Just being able to spend time together is a reward. My wife is involved in the business, too. She is the bookkeeper of the crew, the one who will call me or the managers to ask what’s going on with a certain bill.

But even though we are both involved in the business, we still enjoy one another’s company. We like to go out with friends. And, yes, sometimes when we do that, she has to dress me.

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