As a teenager, Scott Crouch looked out from the top of Camelback Mountain at the East Valley and saw mostly vast and empty cotton and alfalfa fields.
Today, the 38-year-old real estate entrepreneur regularly climbs the mountain and, from the top, sees nothing but gated communities, commercial buildings and open space that will soon be covered with even more structures.
"The East Valley is experiencing explosive growth," said Crouch, owner of Keller Williams Southwest Realty, 10101 N. 92nd Street, Scottsdale.
Crouch likens the expansive Valley development to his own life.
He was an abandoned baby, raised by adoptive parents, Don and Marilyn Crouch in south Phoenix and, today, is directly involved with the sale of millions of dollars of real estate throughout the Valley and in both Northern California and Hawaii.
Crouch estimates his direct, annual revenue at about $5 million. He is also involved with sales through Keller Williams real estate franchises in the Valley, which last year totaled $1.5 billion.
"Yes, my life has been successful, but all I have today I owe to my Mom and Dad," Crouch said. "They set a wonderful example — they lived within their means, instilled good values and dared to dream."
Crouch and his wife, Lori, have two children, Tyler, 4 and Zach, 2. The family home in Ahwatukee Foothills is not far from two key locations in Crouch’s life —
Camelback Mountain, which he regularly climbs and his childhood home in South Phoenix, where his mother still lives.
His father died of a heart attack the night he delivered his eighth grade Salutatorian address at Valley View Elementary School. His mother, now 72, raised him as a single parent.
"I was adopted by my wonderful, blue-eyed Caucasian parents in 1966
during the upheaval of the Civil Rights movement in a small, very white community in Newcastle, Pennsylvania," Crouch said. "Out of the many babies that were available at the time for adoption, they chose the ‘tan baby’ — me."
Crouch admittedly is not white. His skin is dark and his facial features are unquestionably that of a person of color. But what color?
"I really don’t know," he answered. "My real parents may have been black, or Puerto Rican or maybe Italian. I never made my background an issue."
The Crouches moved to Phoenix when their adopted son was 3. He grew up in a relatively rough community.
"Unfortunately, I saw many of my peers make bad choices that had a negative impact on their lives," said Crouch. "It would have been easy to follow in their footsteps, but I was determined early on that I wanted to live a life that would make my father and mother proud."
Crouch, a graduate of South Mountain High School, eventually attended Arizona State University, where he studied business administration and, soon after graduation, began selling re-sale homes.
He switched to the sale of new homes and, in 1993, was named the New Home Sales Person of the Year in Arizona by the Home Builders Association.
In 1997, Crouch took a gamble. He accepted a lowerpaying position with the Austin, Texas-based Keller Williams Corp. and agreed to work for its co-founder Gary Keller, by coaching, training and consulting real estate agents in the Valley.
Since then, Crouch has started four Keller Williams franchises in Scottsdale, Tempe, Ahwatukee Foothills and Phoenix near the Arizona Biltmore. Collectively, the agencies employ more than 650 agents.
Crouch has trained thousands of real estate agents in the Valley, nationally and internationally. He now coaches other coaches and gives motivational speeches throughout the country for Keller Williams.
Later this year, Crouch plans to open agencies in Anthem and Tucson. He also co-owns 20 Keller Williams offices in Northern California and Hawaii staffed by 2,000 real estate agents with annual sales of more than $4 billion.
"Gary Keller is my mentor," Crouch said. "He inspires me through his words and actions."
Scott Crouch Age: 38
Family: Married, two children; Lori, wife and Tyler, 4 and Zach, 2.
Resides in: Ahwatukee
Business: Owner Keller Williams Southwest Realty
Key achievement: An adopted orphan who grew up in South Phoenix and created a multi-million dollar realty enterprise throughout the East Valley and in Northern California and Hawaii