A visit with 2023 LRRA President Fletcher Hanson
May 8-14, 2023
By Jay and Kathy Edwards
We recently sat down with the 2023 president of the Little Rock Realtors Association, Fletcher Hanson, in his conference room at Moses Tucker Partners. Learning the commercial real estate business began early for Hanson, just after college, when he worked with his father on some developments in and around his hometown of Heber Springs. It was the middle of the 80’s and not the ideal time for new developments because of a soft market, which may have been a good time to learn. Hanson was living in Little Rock and enrolled at UALR, after transferring from Fayetteville. When not in class he was able to drive back to his hometown to help his father.
“My dad loved beauty,” Hanson says, “which also kept him from developing more than he did. We had the property around Sugarloaf Mountain, which ASU sits on now. On the other side of town, we had 800 acres that dad would never build more houses on. He said, ‘I don’t want to mess it up.’ We put in all the roads and infrastructure, then Fed Ex ended up buying the front half of it. It’s still beautiful.”
The Daily Record: So, working with your dad got you interested in the business?
Fletcher Hanson: I have always had an interest in the business but I actually wanted to be an investment banker as a kid. A few years after college I went to work for Crews First Security and later Powell and Satterfield. Back in those days the business was selling bonds. Then one day I thought I’d try and open my own firm. I had a really good investor in Houston. We were talking one day, and I told him I was thinking of leaving the firm I was with at the time. He asked me what I was going to do. Without any thought I said, ‘I may just open my own firm.’ He told me if I did he would invest in it. So, he backed me. I wrote a business plan, which I’d never done before, gave it to him and he told me it was awful and to write another one. I went to Barnes and Nobles and bought a book on how to raise venture capital, then sat down at my word processer and wrote another business plan. He said it was much better and ended up backing us. We were in business a couple of years before I realized I didn’t want to be in that business anymore.
DR: What came next?
FH: That’s kind of a funny story. I was living in midtown, and I was looking for a job. I read an ad in the paper that said, ‘Real Estate Specialist Wanted.’ That is all it said. I responded on a Sunday night. I sent a fax to the number and they called me back. I went to the interview and told them I didn’t even know why I was there. They seemed surprised that the ad didn’t explain what the job was. I told them it just said, ‘real estate specialist needed’ and I thought that sounded like me. They told me the company was Southwestern Bell and they needed someone in Arkansas to make acquisitions for them for towers. I got the job and then the market slowed and I ended up working for them in Tulsa and commuting back and forth to Little Rock. I learned a lot about zoning and towers and became pretty good at it.
Then I met Phyllis Glaze, who at the time was managing University Towers for Dickson Flake. For the next two years I negotiated with her to let us put our antennas on the top of the building. One day we were in her conference room and she said, ‘Fletcher, I know we have been talking for two years but we are just not going to do it.’ I said, ‘Well Ms. Glaze if I could have just ten more minutes of your time I think you may change your mind.’ She reluctantly gave me the ten minutes and we reached a deal. Two weeks later she called and offered me a job. I went to work for Dickson in 1997 and spent seven years there.
DR: Were those good years?
FH: Yes, I love Dickson. I consider him one of the deans of real estate, along with Jimmy Moses and Rhett Tucker. You can’t help but love Dickson. He was great. After seven years I moved on to Main St. with a guy named Paul Esterer. We ended up over on the north side of the river and developed Argenta, which I consider as an artistic development, kind of like a painting on a canvas.
DR: We grew up in North Little Rock and it’s definitely wonderful to see what you and others have done over there.
FH: We definitely had good support, from city officials to philanthropists. Harold Tenenbaum was very generous. There were six of us who would sit around and throw ideas back and forth on what it should be called. Silver City kept coming up until one day someone said, ‘What’s wrong with calling it the City of Argenta?’ We all agreed and started branding that, and of course it worked.
We are working on another project now, at the foot of the Clinton Bridge on the North Little Rock side that’s exciting, with some new buildings right off the bridge, very walkable and bike centric. There is a lot of activity on both sides of the river. It’s an exciting time to be down here.
DR: Well, it’s great to see so many out walking and biking, which makes it feel more like a community.
FH: It is. I remember when COVID hit. I wasn’t really a biker and I just walked into a bike shop one day and bought a mountain bike. Now I have like nine. It drives my wife crazy. I just love being outdoors. People will call and say to my wife, ‘Surely he’s not biking today, it’s sleeting outside. She’ll reply, ‘You don’t understand. This is year-round. He’s wearing earmuffs.’
DR: Where is your wife from?
FH: Denise is from North Little Rock. We met through work. It’s funny but I used to tell her I wouldn’t live north of the river. But I moved my business to Argenta, married a North Little Rock girl and now we live there. I just fell in love with it and love both sides of the river. I just love the downtown area. I’m an urban guy.
DR: How much longer will you serve as president of the Little Rock Realtor’s?
FH: I have the rest of 2023, after spending last year being president elect. I am traveling this year as president and bringing our next president up.
DR: Who is that?
FH: Matty Ross. We will be in Washington this month for our first trip this year. It is a great opportunity to meet legislators and understand Washington. As part of the Realtor’s association, we always talk about the three-way agreement, which I did not understand until I became a Realtor and then president elect, that it is local and then state and national. It all ties back together, and to watch that in action has been fun.
DR: We appreciate your time Fletcher. One last thing, any plans to slow down?
FH: Not really. I enjoy working. People ask me when I’m going to retire. I don’t think I ever will. This is something I think I could do my whole life.