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Former Razorback QB Partners With Longtime Developer on Investment Firm

2 min read

A former University of Arkansas quarterback has teamed up with a longtime leader in the state’s commercial real estate industry to start a new investment firm.

Tyler Wilson, the Hogs’ all-time passing leader, will serve as the president of Cirrus Investments. John Flake, known for developing Simmons Tower and founding the real estate firm Flake & Kelley, will serve as partner and adviser. 

Flake said Cirrus will invest in real estate and any other asset that “needs some TLC and where we can offer financial resources.” He described the firm as “very strongly capitalized,” with he and Wilson both contributing.

The two met for the first time in the fall after a mutual friend told Flake that Wilson, who retired from the NFL in 2015, had started a new career in real estate and had “tremendous potential.” Wilson had been developing mainly single-tenant, build-to-suit net lease properties. Transactions in Arkansas and Oklahoma involved a national discount store chain, which Wilson preferred not to name in an interview with Arkansas Business. His other projects include developments for UAMS in Little Rock and Northwest Health in Fayetteville. 

Flake said he was impressed with Wilson. Not only did their business interests and philosophies align, their personalities clicked. “There was so much synergism there that I said we ought to figure out a way to work together,” Flake said.

The timing was also right. Both see opportunities in an environment with low interest rates and high demand. 

“Real estate is one of the only asset classes and opportunities for tax shelter that still exist out there,” Wilson said. “What you’re seeing is a large amount of people who are needing to park money to avoid capital gains.”

The two said their strengths complement each other. Wilson brings youthful energy and unique management skills to the partnership. “If you think about it,” Flake said, “what person in athletics is the biggest manager of anything? It’s the quarterback.”

Wilson, meanwhile, pointed to Flake’s 50 years of business experience. In addition to decades of real estate projects, Flake was a partner at Southwest Media, which was once the parent company of KARK-TV. He left Flake & Kelley in 2020 to join his daughter’s firm, Flake & Co. of Little Rock, as chief real estate adviser. 

He’s also an active community member with connections to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Big Brothers of Pulaski County, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership and more. 

“Real estate is about relationships … those people have to trust you and they have to know you’re going to follow through,” Wilson said. “And John’s got generations worth of equity in those relationships.”

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