Ranch Lesson #2 – Build Team

Lynn Tate and I met Bernard Uechtritz, one-half of the Waggoner Ranch “dream team” of realtors on Friday, October 23, 2015.  Bernard flew from Dallas to Amarillo to discuss an add-value-to-the-transaction idea that we’d developed.

When we met on October 23, we were approximately three weeks after the October 1, 2015 deadline for interested parties to respond to Receiver Mike Baskerville’s call for offers.  Our meeting with Mr. Uechtritz was our first meeting with any of the parties involved in the transaction (other than 2011 meetings associated with Mr. Baskerville’s attempts to retain Underwood as counsel to the Receiver).

October 23 was a stormy Amarillo day.  After our meetings it was my job to drop Bernard off at the Amarillo airport for his return flight to Dallas.  Because it was a stormy Amarillo day, after dropping Bernard off at the Southwest Airlines gate, I parked in short-term parking and walked in the terminal to be sure Bernard would successfully return to Dallas and be positioned for his scheduled Saturday meetings on another project.

When I walked in the terminal I saw that Dallas flights were cancelled.  I tried to book Bernard on Saturday morning but the Southwest flight was full.

I told Bernard that his only hope for Dallas on Friday night would be renting a car.  We walked down to the rent car area.   The Dollar representative did not have any customers so I asked him if any cars were available.  He answered quickly:  “we don’t have any cars that can be dropped in Dallas tonight or tomorrow.”

In trying to solve Bernard’s issues, I knew that my son, Kregg, planned to fly to Amarillo to be fitted for his new set of irons.  If Bernard drove my King Ranch F-150 to Dallas on Friday night, I knew Kregg would be willing to drive the pick-up back to Amarillo on Saturday morning.

I told Bernard that his only hope for Dallas on Friday night was taking my pick-up and confirmed that Kregg would get it back to me on Saturday.  Bernard was reluctant but, after some conversation, he agreed.  Bernard and Kregg agreed to a Saturday morning meeting time, someplace along I-75.  We walked out to short-term parking and I threw my keys to him.

Now I’m stranded at the Amarillo International Airport.  So,  I called my much better half Robyn, told her my pick-up was on the way to Dallas, and asked her to drive to the airport to get me.

I appreciated Bernard’s concern about my 29 year-old son driving the F-150 to Amarillo on Saturday.  (Because their mother raised them, each of the Rhodeses’ kids is mighty competent and driving from Dallas to Amarillo wouldn’t be anything I’d be worried about.)  Bernard’s concern and follow-up about Kregg, were another signal about Bernard’s attention to detail and personal commitment to be sure things were “done right.”

After Bernard called to check on Kregg’s safety on Saturday, October 24, 2015, we never talked about Alan tossing his keys until a closing reception on Wednesday, February 10, 2016.  At the closing reception, while making a kind introduction of his much-better-half, Bernard said: “this is the guy who loaned me his pick-up.”

I asked Kregg Rhodes a couple of questions about the October 24, 2015 pick-up delivery.  My first question:  “Was the gas tank full?”  My second question:  “How did he interact with you?”  Kregg said “yes, the tank was full” and “Mr. Uechtritz was very nice and waiting when I showed up.”

While Bernard Uechtritz and I didn’t agree on every issue and while some communications were difficult, I think that throwing a set of keys, getting Bernard to Dallas on a Friday night, and returning the F-150 with a full tank of gas, helped “build team.”  Any semblance of “team” was important as we worked to close a very difficult transaction.  Although we were on the buy side, “building team” with the sellers’ broker helped me to understand Bernard and the positions he would take as we worked through the transactions issues.

I’ve only thrown my F-150 keys to one stranger.  I’d do it again.  Bernard can use my truck, anytime.  He did a great job managing the personalities around the transaction.

As for “building team” and what one ought to be doing, I am invigorated by the energy that Underwood’s Leadership U is creating.  Leadership U is our current succession planning effort.    We’re developing some outstanding relationships and synergies.  Consider a similar effort to build your team.

Alan Rhodes is a shareholder in the Underwood Law Firm.  Combining his legal experience and business acumen, Alan assists clients with corporate, commercial, nonprofit, and private enterprise issues.  This article is not intended as legal advice.  If you seek legal counsel regarding a specific business law matter, please contact an attorney.

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