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Sunday, May 22, 2022
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Local businessman has the Midas Touch but likes to keep life simple

🕐 6 min read

If you happen to catch a glimpse of a vintage Volkswagen bus cruising around Fort Worth, don’t be alarmed. There’s no throwback Flower Children inside doing anything illicit.

Instead, you’ll find Fort Worth businessman Paun Peters, his wife, their children and grandchildren bopping along, waving at passersby and singing along to the score of the Power Rangers movie or Prince’s Little Red Corvette.

“This is us, this is what we like to do, spend time together,” said Peters, the 61-year-old patriarch of this close-knit clan of Greek descent.

Family ranks tops on Peters’ list of priorities, but he finds delight in nearly every aspect of his life. Life has been good to Peters, a man who seemingly has been blessed with the Midas Touch.

Ever since he was a young man, Peters has found a way to turn a successful deal. But there’s nothing mythical about the success he has achieved through multiple stints in commercial real estate and more than 30 years in the oil and gas industry.

Instead, it has come from a combination of diligence, a strong work ethic and an instinctive ability to foresee an opportunity and seize it.

Peters grew up in the Euless area, the son of Dan and Elpis Peters. As a youth, when other boys were out messing around and shooting BB guns, Peters kept busy by being industrious.

“I would go to people’s houses and offer to mow their yards or clean out their garage,” Peters recalled. “If they offered me money, I would accept it.”

If not, so be it. “I was doing productive things, trying to keep busy,” he said.

His wife, Magdaline “Lynn,” who he did not meet until he was a grownup, told him he was “a weird kid” when she heard that story, he said.

After graduating from L.D. Bell High School, Peters started college at Texas A&M but quit to return home and develop some industrial land his family owned. His father owned some property in the vicinity of the recently opened Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

With no experience, Peters put himself on a learn-as-you-go track that required him to intersect with engineers, acquire permits, create specs, read blueprints and take other steps involved in building industrial warehouse buildings.

One lesson he learned quickly: don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“I relied on other people’s experience a lot,” he said. “When you’re a kid, people want to help you. I was fortunate to find folks kind enough to steer me in the right direction.”

Besides developing the buildings, Peters acted as property manager and leasing agent.

By 1978, he realized that he needed to go back to school and found the perfect fit at Texas Christian University with a program in finance with a concentration in real estate. He attended classes at night and in the summer so he could concentrate on his real estate ventures during the day. He graduated in 1980.

With his father as a partner, Peters continued to work in real estate until 1982 when he joined Western Production Co. as a production manager.

By 1986, he became president and co-owner, with his wife, of this family-owned business that was a small producer at the time, operating in the west-central Texas area in Eastland County and Abilene.

That year, Peters sold his real estate holdings in Tarrant County and used the proceeds to invest in oil and gas resources at rock-bottom prices during a bust cycle.

In 1997, he bought Anadarko’s holdings in the Barnett Shale.

“It was a very fortuitous acquisition,” Peters said. “I didn’t know how good it would be but I knew that I had to have it.”

As it turned out, Peters owned two producing wells on 1,400 acres in northwest Tarrant County, right in the sweet spot of the Barnett Shale play. In 2006, Peters used some of his fortune to form Corinth Land Co. as a Western affiliate to acquire drill sites in the Barnett play.

In 2007, Western sold its urban oil and gas acreage to grow its producing assets with additional acquisitions. In 2016, Western sold its holdings and Peters bowed out of the oil and gas business.

Since then, Corinth Land Co. has circled back to commercial real estate ventures in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

The company, along with business partner Prattco Creekway, closed on two joint ventures in 2017. The first was the acquisition of the Digital Building, a light industrial building along Great Southwest Parkway in Arlington.

The second venture was the purchase of Heartland Cabinet building, also light industrial warehouse space in Arlington.

Peters plan is to continue focusing on industrial and light industrial commercial real estate through joint venture acquisitions.

Peters strongly believes that the best deals are alongside trusted partners, a lesson he learned long ago as he was just getting started in real estate.

He is admired and respected by many who have done business with him over the years, including Ben Loughry, a partner in Panther FW Investments who called him “a good guy” and principled businessman, who carefully does his homework.

Now comfortably in an office in the Fort Worth Club building, Peters is ready to stay put.

“I’ve worked on one end of Seventh Street or another since 1994,” he said. “This is my last stop. I’m ready to grow old with the Fort Worth legends in this building.”

Now, if he could just sell his Fort Worth mansion so he and Lynn could move to Colleyville to be closer to children and grandchildren. The Peters’ have three children: Elise Jones, Tina Bond and Danny Peters, and four grandchildren.

Peters’ historic home on Crestline Road, The Baldridge House, is still on the market after nearly a year. The house was built by cattleman, rancher and banker Earl Baldridge around 1910 and has an asking price of about $8 million.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Place, the home had fallen into disrepair and was foreclosed when Peters and his wife bought it in 2007. They spent $4.5 million renovating the 14,0000-sqare-foot home that contains a secret vault, two garages and many luxurious amenities.

Designed by the legendary and prominent architecture firm of Sanguinet and Staats, the home is considered one of the grandest remaining estates from the turn-of-the-20th century.

Peters built the garages to accommodate part of his collection of vintage automobiles, which includes vehicles as old as a 1933 Rolls Royce as well as that VW bus, nicknamed “The Monkey Mobile.”

“We use it to take our monkeys for a ride,” Peters said.

Peters, whose philanthropy has included the University of North Texas Health Science Center, said he ready to dial back, concentrate on what’s really important to him and mostly “keep it simple.”

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