Troy Aikman has worn many hats over the years. From playing a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys to owning a NASCAR racing team to being a television sportscaster for the Fox network, Aikman is no stranger to taking on new challenges. His latest venture — serving as a principal in the Dallas-based commercial real estate development company Direct Development — is one that he hopes will turn a life-long interest into a long-term investment.
“I’ve always had an interest in real estate, primarily from a business standpoint with the things that I’ve done,” Aikman says. “As far as developing shopping centers, there’s always been a part of me that’s been intrigued about being involved with something like that.”
It all began a little more than a year ago when Aikman met David Watson, a managing principal with Direct Development, at a local golf tournament.
“David and Troy Aikman were flighted together, and so during the course of the tournament they played a match together,” says Syd Hurley, also a managing principal with Direct Development. “During the match, they had the typical talk of ‘What do you do?’ and through that conversation they got to talking about the shopping center business. Troy said he had some friends in the industry and would like to learn more about it.”
After the match, a dialogue commenced between the two and last May it culminated with Aikman joining the company as a principal. He is a partner in all of Direct Development’s ventures going forward.
“Aikman has a great reputation that he’s worked hard for, not only as a great quarterback but also as a businessman in our community,” Watson says. “We work hard to try to maintain that same reputation, and his aptitudes are such that made him of interest to us at a partner level — even if he’d never played quarterback. His people skills and ability to build relationships go without his success on the field.”
Though not necessarily involved with the day-to-day operations, Aikman’s role in the company is a significant one — to help Direct Development build and maintain its relationships in the marketplace.
“The real estate business is relationship based and my job is to continue to help develop those relationships,” Aikman says.