Tom Rankin never wondered what he would do for a living.
At Missouri State University, Rankin took a class from the late Ralph Manley, a real estate professor, developer and builder who talked about real estate’s potential to build wealth over time. Rankin was hooked.
The Branson native – who was accepted at Pepperdine University after he and a friend applied almost as a joke – stayed in Springfield after graduating from MSU and took a job as a leasing agent. Two years later, he started Rankin Co., a commercial brokerage. Rankin was 23.
“I was young and I had ambition, and I had a good education. But I didn’t have much experience,” he says.
Rankin, 55, did gain experience, of course, and the eventual notice of national firms interested in affiliating with his company. Nothing peaked Rankin’s interest until he spoke with Sperry Van Ness Commercial Real Estate Advisors. SVN’s reach across some 1,500 brokers and its core values of commitment and professionalism convinced Rankin to franchise with them about 10 years ago.
“My affiliation with them allowed me to have national exposure,” says Rankin, now managing director of SVN/Rankin Co. “We have local expertise, but SVN can bring in people from other areas.”
His foray into development began with 108 acres off of Kearney Street that Rankin thought would make a good industrial park. In partnership with Charlie O’Reilly, Rankin developed North Creek Business Park.
Rankin is also a co-developer of Springfield Plaza at West Sunshine Street and the West Bypass. Although such well-known names as Burlington Stores Inc. and Petco Animal Supplies Inc. are now tenants, Rankin calls the project a humbling one.
“We bought it [in 2008], and the market tanked. The good thing is we had a Walmart Supercenter next to us that was doing well,” he says. “It’s taken longer than I ever thought it would.”
Seventy acres remain to be developed, and Rankin expects continued development between Springfield and Republic as the cities inch closer together.
Rankin was involved with The Shoppes at James River, and he represented Drury as the broker for the land Amazon.com Inc. bought for a new distribution center in Republic’s Garton Business Park.
“I really like to see something created, see something from a bare piece of ground and eight or 10 months later, you have something someone is moving into. And then you move on to the next project, so it suits me well,” Rankin says.
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