Frank Brumley's not a Texan, by a stretch. The 67-year-old coastal resort developer is more comfortable in a hunting cap than a 10-gallon hat. Instead of fancy snakeskin boots, you're more likely to find him wading through thickets in leather-and-aluminum snake-leggings.
Still, a phrase from Texas best defines Brumley's secret to success: Howdy, podnuh!
"You get a lot of good things done when you have like-minded, ethical people pulling on the same rope," says Brumley (BBA '62), winner of the 2008 Terry College of Business Distinguished Alumni Award and a member of Terry's Dean's Advisory Board. "I like to think that picking partners is one of my specialties."
Plenty of partners have pulled a rope with Frank Brumley. He's fired the dreams and balanced the interests of bankers, realtors, planners, contractors, politicians, environmentalists, civic groups, churches, educators, administrators, restaurateurs, other developers — any and everybody it takes, in fact, to build and foster successful communities.
In his 35-year career as a development executive, he and various partners have assembled ventures in a number of major planned communities, taking them from marsh lands and vegetable fields through acquisition, zoning and construction phases all the way to the operation of retail, hotel and sports enterprises. He helped build the inimitable Amelia Island Plantation, near Jacksonville. He also developed Wild Dunes and Kiawah Island.
Brumley's career has now culminated in the development of Daniel Island, just across the Cooper River from Charleston on land purchased in 1997 from the Guggenheim family of New York. (Yes, those Guggenheims.)
As chairman and CEO of the Daniel Island Company, Brumley and his newest partners, including a sharp protégé with a Columbia MBA named Matt Sloan, oversee one last Texas-sized vision — a 4,000-acre island town with 20 miles of waterfront. When complete, Daniel Island will be home to 7,000 residences and 18,000 people, two designer golf courses, 2.3 million square feet of office and commercial space, and, importantly, hundreds of acres of protected natural areas.
You won't catch Frank Brumley bragging about any of these achievements, of course. Like many rurally bred Southerners, he is not a bragging man. In fact, it seems that the more he's accomplished the more humble he's grown.
"Frank shies away from recognition," says Katharine "Kitty" Robinson, executive director of the Historic Charleston Foundation, where Brumley is a trustee and a long-time champion of historic preservation efforts. "It's part of his persona. He just feels it should naturally be done, and he doesn't seek credit."
Humble or not, a lot of people see Brumley forever wearing a conspicuous 10-gallon hat.
A white hat.
See, Frank's considered one of the good guys, a developer who has worked incredibly hard and with great sensitivity as he built communities, preserved history, conserved natural areas and, generally, gave back to Georgia and the South the good fortune he's been blessed to receive.