July 01, 2008

MUS Alumni Power Top Development Firm

MUS Today/July 2008

Nearly everywhere you look in Memphis, you can see the unmistakable touch of Boyle Investment Company – from the development of mixed-use communities to the architectural features that add value to each building. Founded 75 years ago by three brothers, the company is responsible for some of the most celebrated streets, office complexes, and neighborhoods in the city. Many MUS alumni have their history intertwined with Boyle, including members of the Boyle family.
Patriarch Edward Boyle set the standard in the early 1900s with the development of Belvedere Boulevard, still a Midtown icon. His sons, Bayard, Snowden and Charles, carried on his work and, in 1933, Boyle Investment officially began. Bayard Boyle was named president of the company, and under his inspired leadership, the company flourished. His son, Bayard Boyle, Jr. joined the company right after college.
Today, Boyle is still a family-owned company, adhering to the standards of integrity and careful planning set so long ago. And as the company has grown, others have joined the company, and have come to know Boyle as family. But it is not just the history of a company that makes it so compelling; it is a history of the unique individuals that comprise it. Many of our own alumni have their history intertwined with Boyle, including members of the Boyle family.
Of the MUS alumni currently at Boyle, Henry Morgan ’61 has the most seniority, joining Boyle in 1965. Rusty Bloodworth ’63 began just three years later. Joel Fulmer ’67 and Mark Halperin ’67 started in 1973. Paul Boyle ’87 joined the family business in 1992. Cary Whitehead ’68 came on board in 1995, and Tom Hutton ’91 in 2001. The threads that bind them are multi-generational. Fulmer’s father was a long-time, valued Boyle employee; Morgan attended MUS with Hutton’s dad. Morgan hired Halperin and Halperin hired Hutton. Some joined Boyle right after graduation from college, others had a few more turns in their career paths, but all agree that Boyle is a place to stay.
To Morgan, Boyle is more than just a company – the name truly stands for family. Three years after starting work, he joined the Boyle family when he married Snowden Boyle, daughter of Bayard Boyle, Sr. and sister of Bayard Boyle, Jr.
His connection with Boyle began in the summer of 1960, when he worked in Boyle’s insurance affiliate for his uncle. “I was just a guy in college trying to figure out what he wanted to do with himself,” Morgan related. “I loved working for Boyle, but I wasn’t crazy about the insurance business. I asked if I could come back and perhaps get into real estate or mortgage banking. At that time, Boyle had a mortgage subsidiary and I worked briefly in the residential mortgage department and then went into the commercial mortgage department, which is where I wanted to be to begin with.”
He then got the opportunity to move into the development aspect of the company. “One of the earliest developments I worked on was suburban office buildings at Ridgeway Center in the early 1970s,” he continued. “Rusty and Mark were both involved – Rusty in the overall planning, and Mark as a leasing specialist.”
Bloodworth knew Morgan from their MUS days, though they were not classmates. Morgan was a member of the first 7th grade class of the new MUS, and Rusty came in the ninth grade, in 1959. But they did share a European History class taught by Travis Campbell. “We were both lucky to survive the class,” Bloodworth adds, although Morgan claims that Campbell was much fonder of Bloodworth than of him.
“I came in the doors [at Boyle] in 1968,” Bloodworth says. “I had planned on taking a job in Baltimore and I had two months to make some money before I went. I knew Henry’s wife, and there were plenty of signs around town for Boyle, so I knew the name and the reputation, and I wanted to be involved in residential development. So I asked off the street, cold, if they might have a spot for me for the summer. I told them I would do anything they wanted me to do. And they took me up on that. I got to meet Paul’s granddad (founder Bayard Boyle, Sr.), and I was hooked. And I never thought about going to Baltimore after that.”
Boyle at that point was fairly top-heavy with older employees who were ready to turn over the reins to the next generation. Morgan was the first MUS hire, followed by Bloodworth, then Fulmer and Halperin, as well as Jack Roberts ‘66, who ran and later bought Boyle’s landscape maintenance business and continues it today.
“So in the space of about six or seven years, there was an influx of MUS graduates, which provided a foundation for a younger generation,” Bloodworth said. “It has proved to be a valuable asset. Everyone from MUS came very well prepared, thanks to our teachers.” English instructor William Hatchett in particular was remembered as “one of the finest teachers you could have had.”
Besides academic preparation, the shared MUS experience contributed to a camaraderie and cohesiveness that aided each individual and group success. All agreed that there is a level of confidence when working with fellow alumni, a confidence that one will be treated with respect and honesty – a work ethic that fits in very well at Boyle.
“If you look around, you see that not just those of us from MUS but others as well have been here for years,” Fulmer said. “It is unusual to have the longevity at a company that we have.” Fulmer himself knew about Boyle first-hand from his father. “Henry, Bayard and Bayard, Sr. had known me since I was in short pants. They were kind enough to offer me an opportunity to come and work with them.” Prior to Boyle, he did a stint in the army, and worked a short time for First Tennessee.
“It’s really been kind of like a marriage. I’ve been here 35 years, and it has been a very enjoyable experience. For the company to keep as much talent as they have for as long as they have, it obviously has to be a very nice place to be. Henry, Bayard and Paul are very supportive of us and of the things that we want to do. They find ways to help us do our jobs well,” he concluded.
Halperin found Morgan’s support necessary well before he began at Boyle – in fact, he found himself approaching Morgan for help on a college project. “A fellow MUS graduate, Boyle cousin Jack Erb, Jr. and I have been very close friends since the seventh grade,” Halperin said. “We were at the University of Tennessee, taking real estate courses, and had a project that we didn’t know how to handle. Jack’s grandmother (Boyle, Sr.’s sister Margaret) somehow got involved, and told us to see Henry Morgan at Boyle. Big Bayard probably told Henry he should see us, so he did. He helped us a lot. 
“I was impressed with him and grateful for the time he gave us,” he went on. “The following year, I was at a dove hunt in September, right before I went back to school, and I ran into Henry. I had an edict from my dad that I was graduating from school in December. Henry asked me what I was going to be doing, and I said I didn’t know, but I was going to be looking for a job. So I came back at Thanksgiving and met with him. He offered me a job at Boyle, and I started in February, 1973.”
Morgan said, “In spite of all the nasty things Mark said about me, I have to tell you that I was struck by his rapid understanding of what we were talking about on his project. That made an impression on me. That was one of the reasons why I was interested in him.”
Paul Boyle, of course, has been connected with the company all his life. Grandson of founder Bayard Boyle, Sr. and son of current Chairman, Bayard Boyle, Jr., Boyle spent his summer jobs in maintenance – picking up trash, changing light bulbs – and found it, as he says, amazingly enjoyable.
“My father had always told me that when I graduated from college, I had to come work for the company,” he tells us. “But when I came back to Memphis after graduating, he told me there was nothing for me to do at the company! I finally persuaded him to let me work as a construction laborer on the post office building we were building just north of Christian Brothers High School. I started out picking up trash.”
He eventually got to work on the site, and then at an office job for the construction company. “I loved that,” he said. “They let me bid on and build a building for Baptist Hospital. Then Rusty had lined up The Cloisters subdivision at Sweetbriar and Shady Grove. I got out of construction to work on developing this subdivision with visionary builder Russell Kostka `67, and that was a lot of fun. I’ve been around ever since, doing whatever I’m asked.” 
Whitehead joined the company three years later, after working several years for a competitor. “My job prior to Boyle entailed working with all kinds of office tenants,” Whitehead explained. “When someone outgrows their space, you try to accommodate them, or when they downsize, you accommodate that. Or if they are unhappy with their landlord, you try to attract them to your company. The only company I never had any success at prying tenants away was with Boyle tenants. They just wouldn’t leave. I never could pry them away.”
“Our company was sold, and Bayard and Henry offered me a position. I’ve been here ever since,” he went on. “I’ve enjoyed it very much, including the comfort level of working with MUS graduates. When you run across another MUS alum, you assume a certain level of character. Unless he proves you wrong, you give him credit for having those characteristics.”
Hutton grew up with the MUS characteristics modeled in the home. His dad Tom Hutton, Sr. `61 is the longest-sitting member on the school’s board of trustees. A longtime friend of the elder Hutton, Morgan recalls the time he saw young Tom kick a football. “I never will forget it. He was only about 10 years old, and boy, did he kick that football! It is remarkable that he took it as far as he did.”
Very far, indeed – Hutton’s football prowess enabled him to play professionally for five years, four with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Miami Dolphins. “It was fun while it lasted,” Hutton said. “It was a good experience. But it is good to be home. I always felt that there are a lot of great things that Memphis has to offer, and I always wanted to come back. I felt like this was the best real estate company in town – and I still do.”
“I actually consider this the first job I’ve ever had,” he said. “The job I had before was sort of unrealistic. Growing up, I knew Paul and Henry [Morgan], Jr. and I knew the friends my dad had that worked here. I always looked at Boyle as a company that stressed quality and integrity.”
“I worked for Trammel Crow part-time after my last season with the Eagles was over. One day Henry, Jr. told me I ought to consider coming over to ‘our shop.’ I said, “Thanks, I’ll think about it.” The next week, Miami signed me and I was playing on Monday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills the following week. After five years, though, I knew that I didn’t have much left in my leg. I had knee surgery a couple of years before, and I knew it was time to hang up the cleats and go back home. That’s when I gave Henry, Jr. and Mark a call. I’ve been learning under Mark for seven years now.”
The stories are varied, as are the personalities and strengths of each Boyle employee that gathered to share their tales. But from these starter positions, each has risen high in his field. The young man who was just trying to figure out what to do with himself, Henry Morgan, is now the president of Boyle Investment Company, with the development of over 6 million square feet of commercial space under his belt. Rusty Bloodworth, who walked in cold to get a job for the summer, is an executive vice president currently working on a 600-acre mixed-use development in Franklin, Tennessee.   The little boy in short pants who knew Boyle through his father is now a senior vice president; Joel Fulmer is responsible for the leasing and managing industrial properties. Mark Halperin, the college student who couldn’t manage a real estate project for college, now manages and leases in excess of two million square feet of full-service office buildings as an executive vice president. Paul Boyle has grown from an expert in picking up trash to expertise in the development and sale of multiple-use projects as executive vice president. Cary Whitehead, who used to try to pry away Boyle clients, now serves the company as a senior vice president with both development and financial responsibilities. And the young man who once measured success by how many yards he kicked a football now views measurements differently. As an assistant vice president, Tom Hutton handles the leasing and management duties in over one million square feet of office properties.
Thanks to the skills and talents of these executives and others like them, Boyle is a respected and responsible company that has left its footprint all over Memphis. The company’s success can be attributed in part to the treatment of its employees. “The freedom with which we are allowed to operate has allowed us to do a lot in the business world and a lot in our private lives,” Halperin said. “No one is ever looking over your shoulder, questioning the amount of time you spend doing one thing or another. You have your responsibilities and you’re expected to do them.”
“In many ways, it is like MUS,” he concluded. “One of the things we learned at school was to be independent, think on your feet, and be responsible for your actions. We have the luxury at Boyle, because of the kind of leadership we get from the owners of the company, to act independently. We’re proud to have gone to MUS; we are equally proud to work at Boyle.”
Editor’s Note: Bayard Erb `77 works for Boyle Trust and is connected to the Boyle family through his grandmother, who was Bayard Boyle, Sr.’s sister. He was unable to sit in on the interview.