From Roll Tide to real estate
How two local real estate executives maintain friendship, faith and business over decades
Interview transcribed by Melissa Razdrih
Dewey Mitchell and Allen Crumbley have been in business together for more than 30 years.
Both are brokers, and co-owners, of Capstone Tropical Holdings in Trinity.
Meeting at the University of Alabama in 1974 as freshman with football scholarships, the two maintained a longstanding friendship that led to an amazingly successful business partnership.
While at the University of Alabama, Mitchell and Crumbley played under the legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and were “1st Team Status” on the 1978 National Championship Football Team.
Here’s their story.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Dewey: I was born in St. Petersburg at Mound Park Hospital, which is now Bayfront Health. My father was a cattle rancher. I live about a half a mile from where I was raised. It was a wonderful childhood. My mother was on the Pasco County School Board for 20 years. Allen’s wife has her seat now.
Allen, did you grow up here too?
Allen: No, I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.
Why the University of Alabama?
Dewey: I was playing football at Gulf High School and I was the quarterback on a team that was not very prolific. My father realized that I had enough talent to play and it wouldn’t be wise for me to stay there if I wanted to play college football. I think he was thinking about it more than I was at the time.
He asked if I wanted to go to Tampa to play football at a school that would be well known and have a better coaching staff. I said sure. So, one of the coaches in Pasco introduced my father and I to a coach in Tampa at Robinson High School. They took this real pretty girl and pulled her out of class to show me around campus. I went back home and told my parents “I’m sold.”
So back to my original question, how did you end up at University of Alabama?
Dewey: At the end of the day, Alabama was just a cut above. I mean, we had Coach Bryant up there. Alabama was competing for national championships every year.
Allen: Alabama WON national championships. They dominated football with Coach Bryant in the sixties and seventies, like no other school has ever done.
We were almost halfway through our college career before we really started talking to each other about how we were raised. We were friends, he was a linebacker and I was a defensive back, and we started talking about how we came up. We were both raised very similarly with a good Christian background.
Allen, talk about growing up in Birmingham.
Allen: It was rural. We didn’t have curbs or paved streets. We were in the woods all the time. And I got into athletics as early as I possibly could. In first grade I started playing baseball … you could play tackle football in the third grade if your parents let you, but my mother wouldn’t let me because I was too small. I was mad at her for a year.
In the fourth grade I got to play football, baseball, basketball and ran track. But you know, football was king in Alabama in the sixties, and unlike Dewey, we all dreamed of playing for the University of Alabama with Coach Bryant.
Dewey, you had another brush with athletic fame, talk about that.
Allen: Dewey was a captain on the US Olympic team in judo in 1984.
Wow, so you left college playing football and joined the Judo Olympic team?
Dewey: Well, I always did judo. I did that before I did football. Intermittently in college, believe it or not …
Allen: Coach Bryant let him off three days of spring training, which was unheard of. He went off and won the national championship.
That’s very cool. How did you and your team do in the Olympics?
Dewey: Well, I didn’t medal. We had two guys that medaled that year I was there. We got our first gold.
Where were the games that year?
Dewey: Los Angeles.
Allen: I was there, in the flesh, to watch him compete. I missed three flights coming home. I was having too good of a time.
How does your time at the University of Alabama translate to your business today?
Allen: Coach Bryant held us at a very high standard to perform and to be a good person. He was training us for life. You have to surround yourself with really good people. As a business partner and friends, we hold ourselves accountable, because I’m accountable to him, and he’s accountable to me.
How did you start your business?
Allen: Dewey and I bought Tropical Realty and Investments in November of 1984. Twenty years later, it was 100 times larger than it was when we bought it.
Proudest accomplishment, for both of you?
Dewey: I think for both of us, we’re happily married. We’ve got wonderful families. I think we both feel like we’ve made a difference, and continue to make a positive difference, in our community and our churches. A lot of what I do is all about honoring my parents. They were servants of the community and they were wonderful people.
Allen: That’s a great way of answering the question because there is no national championship that compares. We can talk about it all day long, but that pales to what our intention was, at the end of the day.
I think that’s why Dewey and I have been partners this long, and while we don’t always agree, we’ve never been argumentative. We lay it out on the table and then whoever feels the strongest, the other one jumps on the team.
We don’t say “I told you so” because there’s no room for that. But we also have the same intention, always.
What do you think the secret sauce is to you guys being together as long as you have …
Allen: Friendship is worth more than business. ♦