Dennis R. Crull, S.E.C., CSPG, CCIM, ALC, CRB, GRI

crull_dennis Dennis R. Crull was born in Independence, Missouri, and was the only child of William Russell Crull and Rozella Anderson Crull. Dennis learned the value of hard work early on by watching his father work long days as a union pipe fitter with Allied Signal and his mom stay busy running everything at their house.

Dennis’s first job was at age eight, when he folded letters and stuffed envelopes for a mass mailing business. At age 12 he was bussing tables at a nearby Holiday Inn restaurant. While attending William Chrisman High School, Dennis was an employee of a grocery business, where he worked until he was 18.

After graduating high school, and after brief stints with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and Allied Signal, Dennis moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 1965 and enrolled in civil engineering at the University of Missouri, paying his own way through college. While he was a full-time student, Dennis took out a $500 student loan and invested $300 of the funds to start his first business, a SCUBA diving business. During his 25 years as a PADI underwater instructor, Dennis estimates that he taught over 1,000 students how to SCUBA dive. He also led diving teams for an underwater archeological study in the Mediterranean under the auspices of the American Academy in Rome, Stephens College marine biology courses in the Virgin Islands, and the Boone County sheriff’s department.

The success of the SCUBA business provided Dennis with an opportunity to expand into the swimming pool business. He created AquaMart, and eventually grew it into the largest swimming pool builder in central Missouri. Realizing he needed a winter business, he expanded his store into a ski shop, led ski trips to Colorado, and founded the Columbia Ski Club, an organization that still exists today.

Dennis’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop at these businesses. On top of attending classes at the university, he also opened a women’s sportswear store, a wholesale pump company, and he bought the only miniature golf course in town. As Dennis’s various companies continued to grow and take up more of his time, he left college two semesters short of graduating to focus on his business interests full-time.

During this time, Dennis was approached by Boone County, Missouri, to develop the first 20-year master plan for the county’s growth. Dennis chaired the committee that developed the master plan, chaired the public hearings, and then chaired the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission for two years after the voters approved the master plan.

Unfortunately, Dennis’s business success led to his first lesson in the school of hard knocks. After bringing a managing partner – who had nothing invested – into his swimming pool business, and loaning that company money out of his other businesses for a large commercial project, Dennis left the country on one of his diving expeditions and failed to watch the books. To make a long story short, the result was that Dennis lost everything he owned and learned the importance of watching the books no matter how much you trust your friend/partner/manager of an investment.

Fortunately, the national swimming pool equipment manufacturer where Dennis had bought his pool supplies, Seablue, knew what had happened and hired Dennis to sell their equipment in a four state territory. Seablue was acquired by a large multi-national company, Ciba-Geigy, and Dennis was promoted and moved each year for the next four years, and finally he headed a new division of the company that required weekly travel throughout North America.

This changed while Dennis was away on a business trip to Florida with his wife Penny. Their house was struck by lightning and burned down in their absence. The only thing they did not lose in the fire was the clothes they had with them in their suitcases. Ready for a change, Dennis decided to quit his job with Ciba-Geigy in 1977 and move to Colorado with the intent to buy another business.

Dennis wrote 100 Colorado area brokers in advance about moving to the area to buy a business. Dennis was amazed at the lack of response. The poor service of the real estate community in the area of business and income properties at the time made Dennis decide to get into the real estate business. Soon after, Dennis purchased the United Farm Agency office in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which focused on selling business and income properties and ranches. Eventually, his company grew to be the top producing office in business and income properties out of 600 plus United offices nationwide

Realizing education and hard work are the keys to success in any venture, Dennis pursued professional designations and completed the GRI, CCIM, ALC, and CRB programs. He later became a senior instructor for both the CCIM and ALC designation programs and taught for many years. However, the designation that Dennis holds in the highest esteem is SEC, because of the admirable quality of its membership and the enduring family relationships. Dennis’s first significant creative transaction occurred in the early 80s when he closed a simultaneous exchange that involved five of his clients and 27 properties located in several states, for which he was awarded the Colorado CCIM Transaction of the Year.

While managing the United Farm Agency office, Dennis began to incorporate computers into his business. He discovered that many brokers in the nation were resisting computers, and Dennis began consulting with several of them on how to integrate computers into their businesses. As a result, Dennis formed Engineering and Business Systems, Inc. (EBS), and became the only Hewlett-Packard computer dealer on the western slope of Colorado. He taught two and three-day hands-on seminars nationwide to real estate licensees, and sold computers to those wanting to utilize the benefits of advanced technology. Not long after, Dennis was engaged by United to teach computer integration classes to other United Farm Agency offices around the country.

Also in 1978, Dennis started Timberline Development Corporation, focusing on small land development projects. His first project began when he purchased 400 acres at auction and subdivided it into 35 acre home sites. Dennis’s success continued in his brokerage, development, and computer businesses until May 2, 1982. That was the date that everyone who lived and worked in Northwest Colorado remembers as “Black Sunday.” On that date, Exxon decided to terminate its Colony Shale Oil Project, a billion dollar 20-year project that dominated the regional economy. As a result of this regional economic earthquake, thousands of people were unemployed, banks failed, businesses closed, and real estate stopped selling.

In 1985, Dennis was forced to close his computer and real estate businesses, due to the failure of the bank that held his lines of credit, and the inability to obtain new credit lines under current market conditions. Through this life experience, Dennis learned that regardless of how successful you may be, events totally beyond your control still can occur and have devastating consequences.

Through teaching for the CCIM program, Dennis had met Ralph Varnum, who owned a Kansas City real estate development company. Dennis moved to Kansas City to work with Ralph until the 1986 Tax Reform Act took all real estate developers to the limit. In 1987, Dennis started a consulting company that contracted with the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation to write business plans on $250,000,000 worth of commercial property and businesses in Oklahoma and Texas.

In 1990, Dennis started venturing into non-profit consulting and asset management, and formed Timberline Investment Company to specialize in working with non-profits and donors in asset management, estate planning, and planned giving transactions involving businesses and real estate; it is a focus he continues today. Again, as a believer in education, Dennis completed his Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG) designation, and has developed and taught several courses involving estate planning and planned giving.

Dennis’s most exciting creative transaction in the real estate business was when he exchanged one of his clients out of 44 different types of properties located in five states into one income producing property in a simultaneous exchange. This transaction won him the 1992 S.E.C. Creative Transaction of the Year Award.

Dennis has been a licensed private pilot since the 1980s. He also enjoys packing into the Colorado wilderness on his Tennessee Walking Horse, Eagle. He continues to be active in the Society of Exchange Counselors and teaches classes on estate planning and planned giving. Dennis and Penny had been dividing their time between Kansas City and Pagosa Springs, Colorado for the past nine years. They moved back to Colorado permanently in April 2011.

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