Sheldon Grothaus, owner-broker of Texas Ranch Sales LLC in Hondo, is a tall, moving target.
“I’m kind of a workaholic,” he said, as way of introduction. In addition to Texas Ranch Sales, Sheldon is owner-operator of Texas Whitetail Breeders, which produces 500 head of deer annually, and a 350-head F-1 commercial cattle operation.
I work hard and like to play hard as well, but these days I have to plan the play. The real estate business, at least in our office, rarely sleeps.
Our paths crossed briefly at the recent Texas Wildlife Association Annual Convention where he was attending the organization’s Private Lands Seminar.
Not ever having met, Sheldon and I exchanged texts trying to find one another in San Antonio’s massive J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa. My self-description was “short, blonde with glasses wearing a red t-shirt.” His response: “I’m the tall one.” We agreed to meet in the bar because it was centrally located, not because either one of us had time for a drink.
I arrived and scanned the room, not exactly sure who I was looking for. Then, he unfolded himself from the chair—and I immediately knew whose hand I needed to shake. His firm handshake and unwavering eye contact testified of his rural Texas roots.
“Land ownership is a great privilege that I’ve experienced first-hand for quite some time,” Sheldon, who attended Texas A&M University-Kingsville and studied wildlife management, said. “In return, I want to help others on their journey to land ownership.” There’s an open, directness to his manner.
“All of my business dealings are guided by this quote that I picked up in my reading: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,’” he said. “Integrity is the basis of my business philosophy.”
Texas Ranch Land Sales, which he founded in 2001, and its sister company Texas Ranch Developers, a land asset improvement company, grew naturally out of his other interests.
I got started in the ranch real estate business because of my appreciation of the great outdoors and all that it offers. I have been involved in the hunting and wildlife industries for a long time and was looking for a completely different way to broaden that horizon.
He continued, “I’m a landowner as well as a ranch developer who puts ranches back in working order, so I know both sides of the market. Whether my clients are sellers, who have spent years creating equity in their ranches, or buyers, who are looking to invest their hard-earned money in real property, they get the best of my experience, market knowledge and problem-solving.”
Texas Ranch Development gives him a unique perspective. He not only looks at ranches from the standpoint of what they are, but from what they can become. His team, under the Texas Ranch Developers, LLC banner, “rehabs” distressed ranches that have been neglected or “polishes” ranches that can better reach their potential with some well-focused improvements.
“Depending on what buyers are looking for, we can deliver a ranch that is waiting for new owners to put their personal stamps on or we can deliver a turnkey property where we’ve improved the pastures, upgraded the structures, enhanced the water features or the introduction of deer from improved genetics onto the ranch,” he said.
From experience, both business and personal, Sheldon recognizes the benefits of owning a Texas ranch. First, there’s the financial upside because land that is well-managed and well-maintained generally doesn’t lose value and often provides a significant cash return on investment if sold. Land also provides strong collateral for other business deals.
Then, there are the benefits that don’t show up on a P&L statement.
“Ranches provide the ultimate getaway for family and friends,” Sheldon said. “When people arrive at their own properties, they can leave the stress and rush of modern life outside the gate.”
Texas Ranch Sales has grown to include several associates, each one bringing to the table their own fields of expertise on behalf of the firm’s clients.
The beauty of a career in ranch real estate is that it’s easy to love what I do every day. I get up knowing that I will have the chance to spend the day on a beautiful ranch either looking for one that fits clients’ needs or actually showing them a property that could change their lives.
Enjoying the work and the people encountered along the way keeps Sheldon passionate about the industry.
“Every individual who buys or sells a ranch with us, deserves—and gets—our complete attention,” Sheldon, who sold San Antonio Spurs superstar Tim Duncan his first ranch, said. “While we conduct deals all over Texas for a large number of clients, we never forget that the transaction on the table, whether it’s selling a family property or buying a ranch where a family will write its own land history, is important and highly personal.”
Sheldon and his team don’t believe in “one and done.” Each business interaction offers an opportunity for a long-term relationship.
“While we work every day to grow Texas Ranch Sales, we strive to maintain close relationships with everyone who we’ve encountered along the way,” Sheldon said. “In my opinion, repeat business and referrals are a true measure of a brokerage’s success.”
When I asked what he would do if he weren’t in the ranch real estate business, he had no answer. It may be because his plate is full, but I suspect it’s because there’s nothing else he can imagine that would be as satisfying.
“For me, Texas is all about the rich, cultural heritage that has been handed down ever since my grandparents came to this state to capitalize on its promise of a better life for their family,” Sheldon said. “That promise still exists today. Now like then, the legacy can be claimed and built on a foundation of hard work and determination.”