Related to: Diane Butler, commercial real estate icon
Commercial real estate veteran Diane Butler sold her regional appraisal company, Butler Burgher Group, bought it back for pennies on the dollar, then resold it six years later for 150% more than the price initial sale. When it comes to closing deals and making her way onto the golf course, Butler is savvy.
Old American Golf Club at The Colony welcomed Butler – who is past national president of CREW Old American Golf Club at The Colony welcomed Butler – former national president of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women Network) – and me as we maneuvered the beautiful track during the Ascendant LPGA to benefit the Volunteers of America Pro-Am Experience. For Front 9, our scramble team of four amateurs was paired with LPGA pro Maude-Aimee Leblanc. Butler walked up, the sun rising behind the tee box, and scratched his drive down the middle of the fairway. My drive found the right rough but was in the A position about 80 yards from the pin.
Our approach shot landed us within 6 feet and we birdied our first birdie of the day to go 1 under our approach shot landed us within 6 feet, and we hit our first birdie of the day to pass 1 cent through a hole. Crossing the bridge toward the second tee, Butler and I talked about the experience of selling his business.
“In 2005, we received an unsolicited offer from a fortune 500 company to buy our business, completely out of the blue,” Butler recalled. But she and her team weren’t ready to sell yet. “So we just realized we had something unique that the market wanted and we put in a bunch of new processes.
We birdied another par 5 from 539 yards. After three straight pars, our scramble team locked in for the final four holes of the front nine.
Butler’s swing is loose. It’s smooth. It’s short and simple. It’s everything a golfer wants in a swing – and by golfer, I mean me. She paired it with legends like Kathy Whitworth, who saw Butler break 80 for the first time, and Sugar Ray Leonard, in honor of the 25th anniversary of Real Estate Council Fight Night.
A year after LandAmerica acquired Butler Burgher Group, the financial crisis destroyed LandAmerica’s core business in the residential and commercial titles industry, and because Butler Burgher Group operated as a subsidiary, Butler and his team had to navigate through turbulence. “I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I felt personally responsible for taking care of the people in our business and our customers.”
Following the financial crash, LandAmerica went bankrupt in early 2009. In May of that year, Butler and his partner, David Burgher, bought out Butler Burgher Group for a fraction of what LandAmerica had paid for it. “It took me a while to figure out if I wanted to start all over again,” Butler says. “But being able to redeem it for pennies on the dollar was so lucky.”
She and Burgher thought about relaunching the business under a new name: Alliance Advisors. But they thought better. “We had to go back to a name the market knew and respected,” Butler says.
The sixth hole was a par 5 of 496 yards. A great tee shot set us up and our approach got us close enough for an easy up-and-down birdie to get to 3 under. On the seventh, we went to 4 cents. And the eighth, we went up to 5 cents.
In 2013, Butler Burgher Group quadrupled its business, increased its number of employees from 62 to 200, had 25 offices nationwide, and became the fastest growing independent commercial real estate appraisal and advisory firm. from the country.
Two years later, another buyer emerged: private equity firm Silver Oak. The Illinois-based company, which manages more than $1.1 billion in assets, invests in businesses that generate between $15 million and $150 million in revenue. He paid 150% more than LandAmerica to acquire the Butler Burgher Group.
We finished the front nine with another birdie to save 6 under on the turn. Our team was locked in and I asked Butler about his most memorable games.
“I shot 72 a few times,” she says. “I have just entered this zone which is impenetrable. My putt can catch fire, my chipping is perfect, and there are days when I just don’t hit bad shots.
For the back nine, we played alongside LPGA Tour winner Nanna Koerstz Madsen, who went 1-under for the tournament weekend, placing T39th. Our scrambling team started the half with two straight pars.
Butler tries to bring the same approach to golf that she brings to leadership: consistency. But in 1998, his toughest challenge ripped apart his work, his leadership and his entire life.
“I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer,” she says. “But I just tried to approach it like any other challenge in life, but it was really daunting. I’m a very competitive person and I was determined to beat it. I had to stay resilient and even Through it all, I worked every day for our employees trying to make them feel comfortable and not worrying about my situation, I had to let them know I was going to stay.
On the 12th and 13th holes, we birdied back-to-back par-4s for 394 yards and par-5s for 551 yards.
These days, Butler works as a development and investment consultant. More recently, she helped Wilks Development lands mixed-use Firefly Park development in Frisco, which primarily develops projects in West Texas. Next, she is working on a mixed-use development that has yet to be announced to McKinney.
Butler kept busy, even thinking about retirement. “I love real estate so much,” she says as we walk down the left side of the lush 14th fairway. “I know I can only play golf in retirement and I just know people will miss me and the industry way too much.
In January 2021, Butler’s former baby BBG was sold to Incline Investment Partners, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based private equity firm that invests in companies with an enterprise value of up to $450 million. Butler is still clapping from afar; The company’s current CEO, Chris Roach, is someone she recruited straight out of Texas Tech University.
Butler is also active with the LPGA. She helped secure the Ascendant National Title as the new co-title sponsor of the Ascendant LPGA Tournament to benefit Volunteers of America and is working to close the gender pay gap. “I am determined to bring the LPGA to the same level as the PGA,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous that women earn 10% of what men earn, and that’s why I’m so passionate about making the LPGA better. We need to develop it in a better place. Women’s tennis l did, women’s football does, so women’s golf has a high ceiling.
From the 14th to the 18th hole, we alternated pars and birdies to score a 10-under, 61, for the day. Not too shabby, in my opinion, but Butler certainly made for some top scrambling scores.
In a few years, Butler plans to spend much of her time in the golf mecca of Palm Springs, where she is currently building a home. But, for now, she still sees plenty of opportunity in the Dallas real estate market.
“Interest rates have held things back, but even still, North Texas is poised to continue growing due to all the demand generators that are here due to corporate relocations,” said Butler. “With the migration continuing, I would say I’m pretty optimistic.”
Ben Swanger is the associate editor of CEOthe business title of Magazine D. Ben manages the Dallas 500…