This year's 40 Under 40 celebrates business community rockstars — and the people who helped them get there. Read about the other 2021 winners here.
Owner of Catalist Realty
David Crawford was going to school to become a leasing agent when he met his wife… and his mentor.
Shortly after he first started dating Stacey, who is now his wife, as a junior at the University of Florida, Crawford met who would become his mentor and father-in-law, Jake Miller. While some might have awkward experiences around their significant other’s parents, Crawford says he felt comfortable around them rather quickly. It may have had to do with the topic of conversation.
“We always had real estate to discuss,” he says. After Crawford's father died in 2007, the relationship between him and Miller only grew from there.
After graduating from UF, Crawford became an executive director of a nonprofit, where his mission was to “make historic districts the heart of downtowns again.”
He returned to graduate school to focus on real estate before becoming the director for an internet marketing company for five years. That, he eventually decided, wasn’t the right fit.
“Real estate kept pulling at me,” he says. In 2015, it all came together as he became a broker at Gulf Realty. In 2018, he formed his own company, Catalist. “It was a culmination of all these experiences with a philanthropic focus,” he says.
The philanthropy side comes from Catalist's core model: it donates 15% of gross commissions to a nonprofit of the client’s choice. In July, it reached the milestone of $100,000 donated.
Growing up, Crawford was surrounded by entrepreneurial-minded people, including good friends and family. “I was raised with entrepreneurial parents,” he says. “I wanted to aspire to that.”
The gears really started turning when he found out his wife was pregnant. “I wanted to set an example,” he says. “It’s more important than just me.”
Crawford’s daughter was born in March 2018 and Catalist had its first closing in May of that year.
Crawford believes strongly in learning about and giving back to the community. He's on the boards of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee. But his main focus remains clients — particularly in the red-hot market. “The thing we always try to get across is none of this happens if we’re not good at what we do,” he says “We can only donate if the business is successful.”
Having a strong moral compass is a lesson he's learned from Miller, but it's not the only insight his mentor passed onto him. “He had all of the experience. I had an understanding of technology and current trends,” he says. “Now we are family. We’ve come full circle.”
Name: David Crawford
City of Residence: Sarasota
Employer: Catalist Realty
Birthplace: Daytona Beach, FL
Years in the area: 11
Marital Status/Children: Married with 1 Daughter (Callie 3.5 years old)
Alma Mater/Degree: University of Florida MBA
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Spencer's Gifts in the Mall
What's your top tip for being productive? I am actually not a very organized person and I have found it difficult to follow traditional time blocking in the fast paced, evolving real estate market but what I have found to be my best strategy is keeping a prioritized to do list. This list is only for items that need to be addressed for the next few days and I check it throughout the day and most importantly in the evening to prepare for the following day.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Renovating Properties
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Playing Basketball
Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Nope but rented Road Runner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain
What's the top item on your bucket list? Machu Picchu
What's your favorite podcast? I'm more of an Audiobook guy: Most recent (Can't hurt me by David Goggins)
Where is your happy place? Traveling with Friends and Family
Describe yourself in three words: Loyal, Optimistic, Easygoing
Who is your mentor for your career and why? Jake Miller. Not only is he a Realtor Emeritus with 40+ years of experience in my industry but he is also my Father in Law and has been an amazing life mentor as well.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? It's really hard to and pick the biggest lessons Jake has taught me over the almost 20 years we have known each other but here are a few that stand out.
1) Be a man of your word: Integrity, Respect and Character cant be bought, they can only be earned and if you focus on that everything else will fall into place
2) Never focus on the money, focus on the process and improving everyday the money will always follow.
3) Some of the best business you will ever do is the business you turn down. This is the hardest to do when you are trying to build and grow a business but you have to always keep things in perspective and realize that sometimes the opportunity cost of taking certain projects/clients on is actually deterring you from reaching your goals.
View the discussion thread.
Want to stay current on the major players in area business? Looking for a one-of-a-kind resource for networking, marketing and research on the Gulf Coast? It’s inside this year’s Big Book of Business.