Crumley Roberts – Moving Forward Q & A

by Richmond Williams | September 1, 2009
Bob Crumley, Chris Roberts

Bob Crumley and Chris Roberts

When you’ve built a firm from the ground up, it’s hard to know when to step away from the day-to-day activities of the organization. Bob Crumley tells One Shot how he realized it was time for Crumley & Associates to become Crumley Roberts.

Q: Following the election, what were the top three decisions you had to make regarding the direction of the firm?

A: In 2007, I decided not to return full time, and the decision was communicated to the firm in an e-mail. I decided, win or lose, I was moving on to other things that I wanted to do. There were no other major decisions to make after the election. Chris Roberts was, and had been, in charge of the firm, but I retained the CEO title. After the election, and contemporaneously with the sale of a significant portion of the firm to Chris and some other lawyers in the firm, Chris was given the CEO title. I am the Chairman with no executive day-to-day role in the firm.

“Don’t build a monument to yourself. Build up a team that can run the firm better than you.”

Q: What was the initial prompt or impetus behind rebranding Crumley & Associates to Crumley Roberts?

A: The rebranding was Arnie’s idea as a way to cozy up to Chris so cj could stay the firm’s agency after I left!!!

Seriously, changing the name from “Associates” to “Roberts” was the right move to let our staff, our clients, and the general public know that the firm goes beyond Bob.

Q: How was the change announced and accepted internally?

A: We did an extensive in-house education program with a bullet point FAQ so our staff could answer client questions about the name change. We sent direct mail to existing clients and then announced the change on air with our new commercials. We focused on “our name is changing, but our values and client commitments are not.”

Q: How has your daily role in the firm changed since the restructuring, renaming, and Chris’s ascension to the role of President?

A: I have no day-to-day involvement. I do special projects, recently centered on real estate (new or expanded offices for us), and I am there to give Chris and his team advice and counsel when they want it. As Chairman, I help oversee the executive team’s performance to ensure great customer service, to make sure we are effectively utilizing our company’s assets, and to be a part of thinking through the next five to 10 years.

Q: Do you have a timeline for how long you plan to remain the face of Crumley Roberts?

A: My current timeline is five years. We have taken steps to ensure an orderly succession occurs should my time on this earth be limited – as we also have in the untimely demise of Chris. Outside of those bad events, I have told the firm that in 2013 we will discuss if they want and need me or if it is time for me to move on.

Q: What advice would you give to others about building a firm with long-term success?

A: One: Don’t build a monument to yourself. Build up a team that can run the firm better than you.

Two: Leave some money in the firm to build it up and sustain it – you might not take home as much today, but you will tomorrow.

Three: Know when it is time to go. Easy to say – difficult to do.