Being a lawyer is difficult. It is a huge responsibility since their arguments can determine the fate of large amounts of money, and who goes to jail or goes free. It requires dedication, hard work, and endless hours. Few have achieved the highest ranks of the profession, but Craig Steven O’Dear is among those few who have done so.
An American lawyer, Craig Steven O’Dear, is a corporate litigator and legal advisor who has managed to establish himself as one of the finest corporate trial lawyers in the country. Due to his passion and hard work, he has been consistently recognized for his efforts in The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers since 2006.
STORY OF AN ATHLETE
Born on June 26, 1957, in Northeast Missouri, Craig S. O’Dear is the son of H.C. O’Dear and Martha Lou O’Dear. His father was a farmer while his mother was a school teacher. He spent his childhood on a hog farm south of Lewistown, where he completed his high school education.
Craig was an accomplished athlete in high school. He was a prominent basketball player and track athlete and played quarterback on the first-ever Highland High School football team. His parents were very proud and kept records of his athletic years. His father drove him to play basketball with the Quincy Herald-Whig publisher’s kids on a YMCA team, beginning in the fourth grade, every Saturday.
When Craig was a student, the school only offered a basketball program, and there was no football program. Craig’s father was a member of the school board. He, along with other local leaders, decided to start a football program. Coach Pat Wozniak was hired as the first football coach.
Coach Wozniak formed the first football team of the school comprising the school’s star basketball players and farm boys who had never played organized sports. Wozniak led the team to a 9-0 record in their first year, acknowledging the efforts of the young and confident athlete, Craig O’Dear. The coach said, “Without the quarterback, that wouldn’t have been possible to have that record. That was a big, strong, smart kid.” He graduated from Highland High School in Ewing, Missouri.
Craig’s success in football, basketball, and track in high school landed him a football scholarship at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. O’Dear played football and ran track at the university while pursuing an engineering education. He graduated with an engineering degree in 1979.
Apart from having a stellar background in sports, his father paid for Craig’s flight lessons, and also encouraged him to learn to fly. As of today, Craig has been a private pilot for 30 years!
STORY OF A HIGH PROFILE LAWYER
Upon realizing that he had a keen interest in law, he skipped continuing the engineering field and attended Vanderbilt University Law School on scholarship. In 1982, he graduated with a law degree.
The same year he graduated, Craig went to Stinson Mag & Fizzell. He was recruited by David Everson, who praised Craig’s confidence. In a year, Craig was given the opportunity of defending Hallmark Cards Inc. and other defendants in the Hyatt Skywalk Collapse. Craig had to defend his clients against a $1.5 million claim of post-traumatic stress disorder from the opposing party. The trial gave Craig’s career the boost it needed, and he had successfully started paving his way to a thriving career.
1988 brought Craig to a law firm headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, where he became a partner in 1990. Craig supported the non-profit organization that exonerates wrongfully convicted people, the Midwest Innocence Project, where he has been serving on the advisory board.
Mr. O’Dear’s accomplishments have been recognized in many publications. He was recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal as “Best of the Bar” in business and product liability litigation multiple times. He was also featured in the ‘Best Lawyers in America,’ Chambers USA, Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyer numerous times since 2006. Benchmark Litigation, named Craig, a ‘Missouri Litigation Star’ and the Lawdragon magazine named O’Dear, one of the Top 500 Leading Litigators in America in 2006.
In January 2018, Craig ran for Senate against Democrat incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. He stood in the elections as an independent candidate, and a part of a Denver-based national movement of independents called Unite America and refused to caucus with either party if he would be elected. Even though O’Dear lost the election, he gained recognition by various notable personalities as an American politician because of his determination.
Today, Craig S. O’Dear lives with his family, his wife, Stephanie, in Kansas City. They have three children, daughter Sydney, and sons Cullen and Cormac.
The Perfect Investment: RAD Diversified and Income-Producing Farms
Amidst the global lockdown of 2020, Dutch Mendenhall, founder of RADD America, began looking for an alternative to standard residential real-estate investments. So, he turned his analysis to farms and was blown away by the immense potential he saw. After going public in late 2019, RADD America purchased US farmland and made slices of the real estate available at minimum investments of $10,000.
Income-producing farms vs. other real estate asset classes
According to Mendenhall, an apartment complex in today’s US real estate market commands approximately a 4% or 5% cap rate. Farms offer somewhere around a 15% to 20% cap rate.
“When I first began looking at investing in farms, I compared each acre to an apartment or housing unit,” Mendenhall recalls. “The variety that income-producing farms provide is what I really love about them as an opportunity. With one season producing wheat and corn the next, you can double tap — you can raise livestock on top of agriculture. Putting money into the farm only pays off in time. Everything from improving soil to increasing irrigation makes a major impact on potential income, and so much of America’s farmland has fallen into disrepair during the last 20 years.”
When Mendenhall began investing during the early days of the pandemic, sustainable acres of producing farmland sold anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000. Today, he finds that income-producing acres of farmland easily sell for $9,500 to $10,000.
“I’ve seen farmland values almost double during the last couple of years,” Mendenhall says. “Currently, we’re in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Idaho, but we are analyzing land all over America. What reports don’t show is the difference between a properly maintained acre of farmland and an acre that is in disarray. There’s only so much workable farmland on the market today. We’ve hit the tipping point, and now, there’s a scarcity of land for people to buy. If you have the opportunity to purchase amazing agricultural land, you have to pull the trigger quickly.”
Income-producing farms as an asset class
Mendenhall is no stranger to investors. Since 2006, he’s connected them to deals in short sales, wholesaling, residential properties, and storage units, though he admits that every asset class has caused the same excitement as farmland. “At this point, we can’t find enough bargains for our investors,” he says. “They take real pride in their investments and keep asking us for more.”
RADD America takes a true grassroots approach when connecting its investors to farmland. “The farming world is different from any other in real estate,” explains Mendenhall. “We start by having our acquisitions and agricultural teams meet with farmers. When we get ready to brand cattle or plant, all the local farmers come and help. In the same spirit, our teams go out and help the local farmers when it’s their turn to brand and plant. To do it right, you have to build a relationship and a connection that’s quite different than other types of investing.”
RADD America is composed of expert investors and expert farmers. The company offers its investments through fractionalized ownership. In other words, the company purchases one farm and then allows a joint pool of investors to own it together.
“If you don’t have a team that knows how to farm and maximize income, you’re not going to get the best possible return for investors,” warns Mendenhall. “Thankfully, our team isn’t so big for this type of investing that we forget who we are, and we have the economy to scale at a great pace.”
The impact of global competition on income-producing farm investments
RADD America closely monitors global trends. In Mendenhall’s experience, investors win when they move before the market. However, when they move after the market, they lose.
“When Russian first invaded and sparked its war with Ukraine, for example, we kept a close eye on its global impact,” he says. “As one of the largest producers of wheat in the world, we knew that Ukraine — now in the midst of a war — wasn’t going to be able to produce wheat at the same scale, so someone else needs to step in and fill the gap. We’re constantly monitoring what’s happening in the world to stay on top of evolving trends.”
In terms of global competition, Mendenhall is frustrated by foreign entities staking ownership of American farmland and agriculture. In this area, China has positioned itself as the number one threat to the sovereignty of the United States.
“When foreign powers have ownership of agricultural land in the US, it puts us all at risk as Americans,” remarks Mendenhall. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen soil quality erode, closures of meatpacking plants, and numerous fires. The likelihood of nuclear war in this age is very small. The quiet war of buying American agriculture and unsettling the American dollar is the threat we face today.”
Clearly, RADD America has a lot to pay attention to at home and abroad. “We’re monitoring weather patterns and making one-year, three-year, and five-year predictions,” Mendenhall explains. “We’re also paying close attention to interest rates to see where this shifting economy is headed. The up-and-down cycles are faster than they’ve ever been. Monitoring the industry is critical. With expert investors and agricultural specialists from RADD America on your team, farmland can be one of your most promising and rewarding investment opportunities.”
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