Crook Look: A Family Heritage of Building a Better Birmingham

LV Crook pictured in the black suit, front and center

My Family Loves Real Estate, Too!

At the relatively young age of 29, I’m fortunate enough to be involved in numerous organizations around town, so to my pleasure I get to meet new people all the time. At these functions I’m often asked the question, “Do you enjoy what you do for a living”? My answer is simple: “This is what I want to do the rest of my life.

Working as a commercial real estate broker focused on the leasing and disposition of properties in the city center isn’t just something I stumbled into . . . It’s in my DNA. My deep-rooted satisfaction in this industry was first paved by my family, starting almost 100 years ago.

Yes, real estate is truly in my blood.  My great grandfather LV Crook was orphaned at a young age in North Carolina in the late 1800’s. From an early age, LV sold Bibles—literally to survive. As he sharpened his sales skills, his Bible business expanded throughout the Southeast, and he eventually settled in Birmingham. Living a frugal lifestyle and saving wisely, LV began to invest in real estate. His motto was: “It’s not how much you make; it’s how much you spend.”

In the early 1900’s Birmingham became known as “The Magic City” as it grew like magic, seemingly overnight, because of the steel industry. LV saw a need for more housing and decided to build low income housing. With a successful start, LV founded Crook Realty Company in 1919. Over the years, Crook Realty Company added agents, an insurance company, and many investment properties. LV was a true “rags to riches” story, and although I never met him, I respect him dearly, and his vision inspires me still today.

Crook Realty Company continued to grow and place its mark across Birmingham with consecutive generations. My grandfather Bob Crook took over the business in the 1950’s. Bob concentrated on construction and subdivisions after World War II, developing the Linwood subdivision and building other homes, as well as developing low income housing. Bob was not a big risk taker but kept the business steady over the years.

The early 1990’s introduced a tumultuous time for Crook Realty. With my father Bobby Crook taking charge,  some restructuring  resulted in my father becoming a sole proprietor. This transformation period for the business led to my dad getting out of low income residential property, as well as the insurance business, to concentrate on income-producing commercial property, mostly in downtown Birmingham.  His plan was to buy one good property a year without debt, hold on to it forever, and keep cost low by managing it himself.  He has executed this plan with success and is close to navigating Crook Realty to 100 years of operation—quite an accomplishment!

My family real estate history isn’t just on the paternal side, though. My mom, Sara Crook, was a successful real estate agent starting with Rudolph Real Estate in 1983. In the early 1990’s when LAH started she moved her license there. Her business success was vital to our family and I respect her dearly for rolling up her sleeves and making it happen.

Today, as I carry on the family tradition as a broker with Shannon Waltchack, I couldn’t be any happier. The four partners and the team here are second to none. We are an enthusiastic, honest, creative, intelligent, and a results-oriented group. We’re unique in the commercial real estate industry in that we do not work in silos and keep secrets but rather work as teammates with a common goal. As we drive income to our clients and our team, we’re helping make Birmingham a better place to live. Each workday I feel a great sense of empowerment from my family and this great team at SW.

I know I’m lucky to be where I am, but I also believe things happen for a reason. The future is bright for Birmingham, and I can’t wait to start painting the picture by way of this new blog. Please comment and critique, as I appreciate feedback of all kinds.

Until next time, God bless.

Robert Crook

I know I’m lucky to be where I am, but I also believe things happen for a reason. The future is bright for Birmingham, and I can’t wait to start painting the picture.

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by Robert Crook