Innovator Article

Entrepreneur Craig Hall Redefines Making a Difference
Businessman, Author, Philanthropist Joins Dean’s Advisory Cabinet

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Bitten by the entrepreneur bug very early, Craig Hall launched his first—and quite profitable—venture at age 10 with 50 cents saved from returning empty bottles to his neighborhood drugstore. When he saw the store was going out of business, Hall’s entrepreneurial gene kicked in.

He made a deal with the drugstore owner to buy the last four bottles of a gooey syrup for a soda fountain drink called Greenrivers, which he quickly turned into greenbacks selling the drink for a nickel a glass on his street corner, making more than 100 times his investment. Hall’s early success in the beverage business would come full circle much later—in the international premium wine trade.

Although Hall struggled with epilepsy during his youth, he overcame it and by age 18 had banked $4,000 working long hours in many jobs and his own ventures, including a lawn mowing business and a coffee supply service for offices. He risked the $4,000 as a down payment on an old rooming house near the University of Michigan.

Hall parlayed that first successful real estate investment into the foundation for Hall Financial Group. Over the past four decades, Hall has overcome huge odds, and near financial collapse, to build an international diversified company that includes real estate ownership, development and management; software application development; structured finance lending for real estate and other areas; and oil and gas holdings. He and his wife, Kathryn Hall, also own six estate vineyards with more than 500 acres of classic Bordeaux varietals.

During his journey, Hall was a part owner of the Dallas Cowboys; formed one of the first stock savings and loans in Michigan; founded one of the first for-profit HMOs in the country; and partnered on the nation’s largest chain of health and sports clubs.

He has written five books, including Timing the Real Estate Market (McGraw-Hill, 2004) and The Responsible Entre-preneur (Career Press, 2001), in which Hall shares his experiences and stories of others who have made a difference by showing that entrepreneurship and ethics do mix—and can literally change the world for the better.

Hall has a close connection with the Graduate School of Management. He accepted Dean Steven Currall’s invitation to join the Dean’s Advisory Cabinet, and his wife’s son just completed his first-year in the full-time MBA program.

He says he’s excited to be more involved with the School, its emphasis on responsible business leadership and rising reputation for green technology innovation and entrepreneurship.

“When I was growing up in 1950s and 1960s, entrepreneurship was a dirty word,” he recalls. “Today, entrepreneurs help make the world go around. The ability to merge the areas of innovation with the risk-taking skillset of entrepreneurship is what led Steve Jobs to successfully create Apple. It is one of the directions we badly need in this country, and the work UC Davis is doing with the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will hopefully encourage future Steve Jobs.”

- Tim Akin

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