Interview by Courtney Donnell
Webster’s dictionary defines success as, “the correct or desired result of an attempt.” Using that definition, Larry Jacobs of Jacobs Properties in Montgomery, Texas may just be the most successful man I have ever met. I haven’t looked at his bank statements. I don’t know what kind of car he drives and I haven’t been to his home. But, when I ask a man to tell me about his favorite things in the world and every answer encompasses his wife, his family, his work or his ranch, I know I have found a man who has discovered the secret to a happy life, a life built on the land, a lifestyle driven by the love of it and a legacy dedicated to preserving it.
What is the title on your business card?
Broker. And that is all I need… just broker.
When and how did you get started selling ranches?
In general, I took an interest because my father loved investing in real estate. From the time I was a little guy, if he saw something he was interested in, I’d offer to go with him, look at it, walk it, find the best corners. When I got older, I kind of floundered around, started in engineering. Then, I decided real estate was what I really wanted to do. I took a few classes. Then I went into the Air Force Reserves. When I came out, I got my broker’s license and started doing that. Really, except for a few short periods of time, I was selling land.
How many of your family are in the ranching business?
My son and daughter and their spouses; and the grandchildren, we still have eight of them living on the ranch. One doesn’t. He is studying to be an EMT. Tyler is heavily involved. He is probably the driving force, with Beverly and I, but they all help us when we work cows and calves, vaccinate, de-horn and all those sorts of things.
Beverly, my wife, she keeps the books, takes care of the bills and tells me when she’s out of money and that I need to go make a deal.
We all kind of work together.
So, on top of being a ranch broker, you also run a fully functional cattle ranch?
Oh, you know, we have about 800 acres and a little over 200 head of cattle right now.
Can you tell which grandchildren might go into the ranching business and which may go into real estate?
You know when we are doing it, they are all interested. They are all homeschooled, so they get a lot of time to interact. They really enjoy helping with the cows. They enjoy riding the horses. Getting the cows up when we work them, they enjoy that…but what is their career going to be like, who knows?
Heck, when Tyler graduated from Texas Tech he had a degree in ranch and wildlife management and had been guiding deer hunts up in Michigan. He really kind of thought he would go into that kind of management. Then he started thinking about it and I said, “Well, if you can’t find anything else you want to do, you can always come home and get in real estate with me.” He thought about it a while and asked me why I hadn’t ever mentioned that before. I told him I just didn’t want to be pushy. And, home he came. Now, he is my right hand guy. He is innovative and will probably guide the way Jacobs Properties goes. Not that I am retiring, I love what I do.
Sounds like you have a pretty close-knit and amazing family?
Yeah, we are truly blessed. We raised our kids, kind of like I was raised, having the opportunity to be in the country, learn how to work, learn how to be in the woods and be self-sufficient. I try to keep them off cell phones and iPads when they are around me, because it drives me crazy. But, it’s gotten to where I am on it so much of the time, it is hard for me to criticize.
What is the thing in life you are most proud of?
You know, I guess I am most proud of the reputation our family has. Although, I am cautious to say that because it is a blessing, it’s not anything I have earned. But, I am pretty proud of the reputation our company has, and I guess, I, along with Beverly grew that. That is the main thing I am most proud of that I actually had something to do with.
What is the first ranch deal you worked on?
Probably the first real ranch deal I worked on, I put a few partners together, me and a couple buddies and we bought 13 sections out in Pumpville, Texas near Pandale Crossing on the Pecos River. It was a deal where we really looked at it as something we were going to enjoy. A lot of it was investment driven, but a lot of it was also about what we could do with the land.
What is the strangest experience you have had showing a ranch?
Well, one of the strangest experiences was on a listing I had, where there was another agent involved. She kind of just turned her clients over to me, but periodically, she would hand her camera over and ask the clients to take a picture of her in various poses in front of a scenic overlook or this and that. I thought it was kind of strange that she just turned it over to me and concentrated on taking her selfies and posing for the camera. It was kind of funny.
What have you learned is the most important aspect of selling ranches?
I think you have got to figure out what the buyer sees. We have noticed that sometimes the buyer sees little things as big problems, an un-cleared brush pile, an abandoned truck in the field, loose boards on the barn. Sometimes they see those little problems as big headaches. You kind of have to figure out what the buyer is seeing and learn to address those concerns to get the best deal for everybody.
How has the industry changed over the years?
Technology! I remember when I got my first pager. First you had your pager, then your bag phone. I would walk around with a roll of quarters in my pocket for the pay phone. There used to be one on every corner. Now, you can’t find a pay phone anywhere.
In general, how do you feel about the industry today?
I love it! I get frustrated with a lot of the paperwork and industry association obligations, but my love of the land and the industry hasn’t changed.
What do you think is the greatest benefit of owning land?
Well, you know, land is always a good investment. But, I think there are so many other intangibles to it…It is good for your mind to be out there, to get out in the country and get away from the city. It is a way of raising your family. Many generations lived their lives on the land and they really learned to work. They learned to keep commitments. They learned responsibility, responsibility for the foremen, for the animals. I just think there are whole lot of life lessons to be learned from living on the land.
If you had to pick another career, what would you do?
Never thought about it. I enjoy doing it. Doing anything else really doesn’t ever cross my mine. This is what I love to do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
what is your favorite thing about Texas?
Texas is still a wonderfully conservative state. From the politicians, to the churches, to the people, it is just a wonderfully conservative state, maybe not the most conservative, but we are right up there.
The other thing I love about Texas is that you can go anywhere and find somebody to talk to. People are generally real friendly and open to helping their neighbors. I think that is what I truly love most about Texas.
What is a typical day for Larry Jacobs?
There are a couple of things. We get up, Tyler and I visit. Beverly and I visit. Do we have a crisis around the ranch? Do we have to take a horse to the vet? Do we have a calf problem? Do we have something we’ve got to do? Then, we generally get to the office about 9 a.m. or so and return calls, deal with advertising and set up appointments to show properties. If there isn’t too much to do, we head back out to the ranch, put out hay or cubes for the cows, fence repairs, there is always something to do or check on.
Well no wonder you don’t dance anymore. Who needs dancing when there are stumps out there to be bulldozed?
That’s no joke. You don’t even know. Tractors, mowers, bulldozers…those are all therapeutic. You get on, you quit thinking about the outside world and just enjoy the land. There is a lot to it, being able to get out there and cut the strings loose to the rest of the world.
Five things at the top of your “left to do” list?
You know, it is just frustrating not to be able to give you really cool answers, but you know, if a door opens and it looks interesting, you go through it. I don’t sit around and dwell on what I need to do to make my life complete. I am just enjoying today, I got a few plans for tomorrow and when I wake up in the morning with something I want to go do. I go do it.