Crummer Alumni Beau Blackerby `10MBA Shares Keys to Success in Real Estate Development
Blackerby credits his Crummer MBA for the connections and real-world business experience that translated directly to him starting RRB Partners.
After receiving his MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in 2010, Beau Blackerby had his sights set on breaking into the commercial real estate business.
Over ten years later, Blackerby is leading RRB Partners as President and CEO, and most recently closed a $2.8 million deal to start developing 10 acres of commercial property in St. Cloud. At the intersection of Narcoossee Road and U.S. 192, it is a premier location to develop in the fast-growing community.
Crummer News caught up with Blackerby to discuss the deal, his strategies for growing in the commercial real estate business, and how his Crummer education continues to help to this day
The St. Cloud development is your most recent deal, why do you think it’s an attractive area to develop and what are your plans with the land?
Beau Blackerby: Saint Cloud is one of the booming areas in a region already growing at a fast rate. Anytime you read the news, it’s about development in Lake Nona. With St. Cloud just south of that, it makes for an attractive area to develop. In terms of plans, the property will primarily feature retail space.
You were very young to start a commercial real estate company, just two years out of your MBA. What was that process like and how did you manage it?
Beau Blackerby: I was young when I started, but had a ton of support. My father has been in commercial real estate since the early 1980s, and I grew up around the business. Being in the Crummer MBA program, I was surrounded by other business-minded individuals who were all going to be making something of themselves, so that gave me the confidence to start my own commercial real estate development company and cut my own path.
It was really after I got out of school about two years after the housing market crash that things started to get rolling again in Florida. We initially landed a $35M deal to do a 200,000 square foot retail development in Panama City, FL and that led to a high rise condominium deal in St. Petersburg, FL. After that, those deals have given us a foothold and credibility to continue.
There’s a lot of commercial real estate developers out there, what makes RRB Partners different from one of the larger firms?
Beau Blackerby: There is a lot of competition out there, but the large-scale developers don’t have the capacity to work directly with the people as much as we do. We identify as more of a boutique firm, where some larger developers will try to push you in a direction that’s more convenient for them. When I am working on a deal, I am fully focused on the client and their needs.
You often mention your Crummer MBA as a key value driver for the success of RRB Partners. How has your MBA experience helped you grow your business?
Beau Blackerby: There’s barely a day that goes by where I don’t interact with my classmates. There’s something to be said about that, being that we graduated over 10 years ago. A lot of times I’m talking with them in a business sense too. For instance, I have multiple meetings just this next week with other Crummer MBAs that I have met over the course of the program and during my time as an alumnus.
Also, the group dynamic at Crummer was huge and it translates directly into the business world. When you are leaving college and going into an MBA program, you learn how to deal with clients and business people right away. Growing that familiarity with working with business-minded individuals was huge.
What’s the next ten years look like for RRB Partners?
Beau Blackerby: Continuing to expand our presence, I don’t plan on leaving the Central Florida area. We want to continue growing through retail, other means of real estate, and continuing to expand. As far as scalability, we are using the Panama City project as a base to build out our regional retail tenants and beyond that, doing more power centers, condominiums and projects like that.