Education: University of Mississippi
You could say Austin Ames lives life in the fast lane.
Ames started Gulf Corporation, a full-service real estate development and investment company, at 28, but his first job was in the auto racing world with NASCAR.
“I don’t think there’s any business as tough as the racing business. There’s only one thing that matters – winning. And I love that,” he said.
After a stint in the racing world in North Carolina, Ames returned to his native Dallas and began his real estate career as a tenant rep broker.
He found a certain comfort level with risk was helpful in both racing and real estate.
“I was young and had a good pipeline of deals and thought, ‘Will there be a better opportunity than now to go out and take a risk on my own company?’ And for me, the biggest risk is not taking a risk,” he said.
Ames hopes to continue to push boundaries in real estate.
“In 10 years, we’re going to be building buildings that change skylines. If you’re going to have ambitions, they might as well be big ones,” he said.
Q: What do you love most about your community?
A: It’s a great place to call home and filled with equally great people. For an entrepreneur, it’s a great place to live. I consider it the capital of arguably the two biggest industries in the country, oil and real estate. People say, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere,” but, for me, I think it’s Dallas. Dallas continues to grow and I feel like, in a way, Dallas is just getting started. I’m excited to see what happens in the next real estate cycle. It’s only going to get better and better in this city.
What makes Dallas so unique is it’s not a transient city, like a New York or LA, but homegrown. Dallas is well known throughout the world with major players like the Jones, Crow, and Hunt families. It’s a special place to do business, and I feel lucky to be here. Dallas, as a city, is positioned so well to take advantage of all companies moving here, great infrastructure, and no natural barriers stopping its growth. Who knows? Dallas could be the biggest metroplex in the U.S. in 50 years. For me, that’s where I see endless opportunities here, especially being in real estate.
Q: What, to date, has been your most impressive or rewarding accomplishment in both your professional and personal life?
A: For me, it’s continuing to survive and thrive. I started Gulf Corporation with $2,700 to my name, and in just under five years, we turned that into a portfolio of over $140 million in properties.
I’m proudest that we did it the hard way, the honest way. No one can say we cut any corners. As a private company, we never borrowed a dime or left anyone in the lurch. That’s a big deal for me.
Q: Tell us about your involvement in the Park Cities and/or Preston Hollow communities?
A: Growing up in Highland Park, my family always has and continues to donate and volunteer with Brother Bill’s Helping Hand. Brother Bill’s provides food, healthcare and education programming to those in need in West Dallas.
Q: Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?
A: Never give up… Sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure. For me, I needed to instill in my team a new level of persistence. I’ve always had a sort of stubbornness and unwillingness to lose or hear the word “no.”
Setbacks, with anything in life, are going to happen, but you don’t give them the last word. I learned to show my team that setbacks and losses are just bumps in the road to sustained success.
Q: What is your favorite local store?
A: I love Highland Park Village. I feel like that’s how real estate should be– a place where you just enjoy being. It is designed so well, and even after all this time, it’s still evolving and growing. It’s such a valuable property to our community.
Q: Where is the best place in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for a power lunch – what do you order?
A: When I can stop for lunch, I always go to Café Pacific and get the salmon.