Roger Staubach may be best known as the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, but readers of The Commercial Observer may know him more intimately as the founder and chief executive of the Staubach Company. This month, Mr. Staubach, 68, celebrates the two-year anniversary of his company’s merger with Jones Lang LaSalle, and, during a June visit to New York, he took some time to talk about JLL’s future and how sports fits into his present.
The Commercial Observer: How often do you make it to New York these days?
Mr. Staubach: I definitely try to get in once a quarter and sometimes more based on different circumstances. We’re doing some really good business with different customers, and so sometimes I’ll just come up for a meeting. I usually try once a quarter to plan a two- or three-day trip and just get around and spend time with our own people, and then try to get out with customers.
I’m not as much involved in operations as I used to be with the Staubach Company. I’m on the board of Jones Lang LaSalle, and I’m really very involved in the integration of our companies, and the really good results we’re getting as far as the customer side. And New York is just a really, really key, important market for us.
What brings you here this time around?
The CYO, which is the Catholic Youth Organization, has a big event every year, and myself and Eli Manning [received] some kind of nice award. So if I get into a city based on if a customer wants me to maybe speak at an event, or if something happens, I try to tie it into business. So we had a customer outing … Well, we don’t do this a whole lot, but took ’em out to play a little golf the other day-I don’t play a whole lot of golf. And then we had a big event last night with our new group over from Cushman in our capital markets area.
So it’s been a busy day, and it kind of finishes up tonight on the Intrepid. In fact, I was on the Intrepid here about a month ago with the Navy Seal Warrior Fund so I’m becoming very acquainted with this here ship. The Navy Seal Warrior dinner was, by golly … It was so emotional.
You’re located in Dallas. In real estate terms, what distinguishes Texas from New York?
New York has really had its ups and downs, but it will always bounce back, but the spike is much greater than Dallas. Our rents aren’t as high. We can go build new buildings in suburbs and around Dallas. There’s never been the pressure like there is in New York, where there’s limited development capability. So they’re different markets. Dallas is more stable. The recession hasn’t affected us as much as New York, but they’re both great business markets. New York is New York. It’s special and it’s the largest market in the country.
From what I understand, JLL is embarking on a four-year plan to increase revenue in New York by 50 percent. Outline that plan for me.
We have about 1,600 employees in New York, and we’re growing like crazy. But we’re all working real hard on New York because it’s very important to us. Our old Staubach people and JLL, we’re all one team right now, and our focus on New York is substantial. It’s committed. And we have a bunch of really good people in New York.
JLL posted profits after several losing quarters. What do you attribute those gains to?
The Staubach merger [laughing]. … It’s the combination of the capital markets coming back somewhat. Our U.S. brokerage service and corporate solutions, which is a big service sector for Jones Lang, with great major corporations. The Americas has actually been very positive on the real estate side for Jones Lang. We’re not owners, and we’re not really developers. We’re really a service company, and the need for real estate services has bounced back in a real positive way.
[July] marks the second anniversary of the Staubach-JLL merger. What have you learned since 2008?
The big thing is that through the years our customers drove us to not only be a Dallas real estate company but we had our first offices in Washington, D.C., and so we had to increase our coverage and then our services. We got to a point where facilities management, international-they were all partnerships. Customers want a seamless approach. They want to make sure they can trust that you’re going to get things done right. So to become one company … That’s what drove the decision.
The good news is, we were very effective in the Midwest, and Jones Lang appreciated our integrity in the U.S. and asked us to come on board. It was a great merger. It’s been two years and, you know, I’m proud of the trust we have internally at the company; and if you don’t have it internally, you can’t transfer it over to the customer. It’s been a very positive experience for me. I’m on their board, and so I get a chance to see all the stuff that’s going on around the world. So I’ve learned a lot about Jones Lang in the last two years-especially in Asia and Europe and some of the other markets.
How have your responsibilities changed?
The biggest thing is, operationally, I’m not really as involved. I’m involved in some strategic thinking, but not the daily operations. I’m spending most of my time trying to be with our customers and reinforce our commitment to ’em. We do a lot of events around the country where we try to bring our customers together to understand who we are and what we do. We try to have a little fun with ’em, too. I’m really havin’ fun with it, and integrating the company. They call on me to get involved in some activities here and there. …
Being on the board, I have a title of executive chairman; and our children gave me a black lab seven years ago for my birthday. So when you have a dog and a title of executive chairman, you’re kind of getting up in life. But I’m really active with JLL, and I really want to make sure our customers get that good experience.
Is there anything from your athletic career that you’ve carried over into real estate?
I grew up playing football, basketball and baseball. Even in the Naval Academy, I played baseball four years-and two years with basketball. Sports have been in the middle of my life. Then, after, I got a chance to get back into it when I joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. The biggest thing I’ve learned to win and be successful is teamwork. It’s not people just falling in step; it’s people that really care about someone other than themselves. And, you know, they have those personal goals, and those personal priorities, but they may come secondary to the bigger commitment.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting JLL’s New York brokers, and they all speak highly of you. As a Dallas Cowboy, did you ever think you’d get such love from New Yorkers?
New York fans are really good fans. I mean, even today, being an older guy, walking down the street, I’ll get, ‘Hey Roger, Roger! How ya doin’?’ In the ’70s, the Giants were trying to get it together, and we had some success. In the ’80s, they kind of got things turned around, but it’s been fun. Actually, New York fans are very respectful. I mean, even in the stands, they’re yelling and screaming, but there’s a respect there. I say this, and this is very sincere, the New York fans-even though they don’t like you and they want to beat you-they kind of respect how you do things.