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Being a serial entrepreneur isn’t just about making the right financial investments. It is very much mindset and a value-laden career. Brandon Fugal is the Chairman of Colliers International in Utah and one of the most prominent businessmen and real estate developers in the Intermountain West. He is also the owner of the infamous property, Skinwalker Ranch. In this chat with Dan Clark, Brandon shares his journey to entrepreneurship and the secret to his enduring success in commercial real estate despite the recent pandemic that shook up the economy. Also, hear about their fascinating discussion on Brandon’s purchase of the Skinwalker Ranch and how his investigation of strange phenomena that dates back 200 years was documented on the History Channel. Don’t miss out on this insightful look into the mindset of a serial entrepreneur and get valuable business and life advice by tuning in to this episode.
Brandon Fugal Gives Us A Glimpse Into The Mind And Heart Of A Serial Entrepreneur
In this episode, my friend and mentor Brandon Fugal, super successful real estate developer, prominent business leader, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and Chairman of Colliers International. He is a philanthropist, owner of the famous Skinwalker Ranch, and a collector of historical artifacts. He shares his life and story of co-founding Coldwell Banker Commercial Capital Advisors, being recognized for 14 years in a row as the number one operator internationally with 30 offices in 11 states and where he was recognized as the number one agent globally.
He’s giving us an insightful glimpse into the mind and heart of a serial entrepreneur. The most fascinating part of this episode is our discussion of Brandon’s purchase of Skinwalker Ranch, so he could investigate the strange and unexplainable phenomena that have been reported there for more than two centuries, documented on the popular history channel TV series Skinwalker Ranch.
I stand with Power Players, and obviously, as a host, I have access to almost anybody that I want to have on this program because of the influence of KUTV and Sinclair Broadcast Group. I’m very judicious in the guests that I tracked down. It’s so crazy how so many people continuously track me down, wanting to be on my show, staying true to the theme of Power Players with Dan Clark, and the promise that if you listen to the guests. If you think like they think, you get the conviction and the significance of their why which is always bigger than their why not, and then you’re willing to do what they do.
There’s a good chance, ladies and gentlemen, that you can do what they do because their secret sauce is not secret at all, or they would have never discovered it. What they discovered was that if they tune into the irrefutable truths of the universe and they always lead with integrity, service before self, and a commitment to excellence in all they do, only good things can happen. Having said that, he’s one of the greatest men I’ve ever met.
I get emotional thinking about Brandon Fugal because if you live in the Intermountain West and you’re driving on I-15, or you hang left and go down I-80 East or West towards Wyoming or California or Nevada, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a country road or one of the state highways, if there’s a significant commercial real estate development going on or a significant piece of raw ground that is now undeveloped, you will usually see a magnificent professionally designed and created real estate sign that says, “Contact Brandon Fugal.”
Of all the people that I’ve met in my life, he has this innate ability. This inherent quality to look at things and people. Not for who they are but for what they have the potential and power to become. In that introduction, you understand that Brandon Fugal is one of the most well-respected and significantly successful commercial real estate developer in the country. He is an Entrepreneur of the Year and all the things that we talked about. More importantly, he’s a man of integrity. He’s a devoted man to our community and to the world at large. Our conversation in this episode is not just going to be about real estate development but it’s going to be about personal development.
As promised, as the owner of the Skinwalker Ranch, the top-rated program on the History Channel, I want to delve back into his youth. The curiosity of why there were so many crazy, fascinating unexplainable phenomena going on at Skinwalker Ranch was reported for almost two centuries, and now he’s the owner. The pilot of a helicopter, so he can peruse it from 200 feet or 10,000 feet. Please welcome to my program one of the great human beings on our planet, a community activist, philanthropist extraordinaire, and a friend. I admire you so much, Brandon Fugal. Thanks for fitting me into your unbelievably busy life.
I’m humbled by your kind introduction. I’m not worthy, in the words of Wayne’s World from the old Saturday Night Live from the ‘80s. I feel quite unworthy of such a warm introduction, but it is such a privilege to be here. I’ve watched you for decades influence and elevate our community. Not just in Utah but also globally.
Don’t think that I haven’t seen all of your books and the motivational and inspirational content that you have put out there for decades. Now, it’s a fun day for me because I get to meet and visit with one of my heroes and real motivating forces and mentors from afar. It’s a great privilege to join you, Dan. I look forward to being an open book, answering any questions, doing a deep dive, and everything.
As you and I traveled the world, I think one of the most monumental causes of low self-esteem is not realizing that it’s not the size of fighting the dog, the town, or the dream. You grew up in a smaller town here in Utah, Pleasant Grove. I want to know at what stage in your life did you believe that your mission and purpose in life exceeded the outlying boundaries of Pleasant Grove, Utah?
I was very fortunate to grow up in a small town in Pleasant Grove. I’m a 5th generation of Pleasant Grove, which would make my children’s 6th generation. I’m the product of Scandinavian immigrants who came in the 1860s to this incredible country that we have the privilege of living in. I was inspired from a young age by a number of things. I grew up digging ditches.
The beautiful thing about the American dream is that there are opportunities for anyone, regardless of their station in life or background, their upbringing, to succeed and to contribute to the community and play a key role in the success of our economy.
A lot of people would be surprised to hear that I grew up on construction crews. From the time I was 15 until 18, it was simply expected that I would be shipped out of town and work out on construction crews, putting in gas lines and, at that time, the newest fiber optic lines that were being introduced in the Intermountain area. It taught me the value of hard work and independence. It also taught me how to work with people from a diversity of backgrounds and how to respect others that may not necessarily believe the same way you believe or live the same way you live.
I’m maybe on a different journey but I have an important voice and am part of a team that can make incredible things happen. When I was thirteen years old, my father received a book for Father’s Day called Iacocca, the great autobiography of the automotive icon Lee Iacocca. That book opened my eyes. I read it cover to cover in one weekend and it changed my worldview. From that point forward, I became obsessed with knowing not only who the key executives and entrepreneurs but leaders that helped shape our landscape, what put them in that position, what drove them, what was their background, and their driving force.
It wasn’t enough to know that Steve Jobs was the Founder and CEO of Apple. It was knowing what drove him and his story. I’m big on the origin story. My favorite movies happen to be more origin story movies like Batman Begins, Ironman, the original Spider-Man, etc. because, in those stories, you find these individuals that discover who they are and their mission in life.
Interesting that you’d bring Iacocca. I read that book as well. He almost single-handedly saved Ford Motor Company because he was the one that came up with the Mustang. Is that not true?
He’s the Father of the American Mustang and we can blame him for the Chrysler Minivan.
To be in a position where he had to take a risk or roll the dice and bet on one specific program, that being the Mustang, to not just resurrect the dignity, character, history, and profitability of Ford Motor Company but to save the day. As the book continues, he comes in and single-handedly saves the automobile industry with the government loans and all the things he orchestrated.
He turned around Chrysler Corporation after being summarily fired from Ford Motor Company at the peak of his popularity, the Father of the American Mustang. He ends up being hired by Chrysler when they are in deep trouble. They are on the brink of bankruptcy and failure. He engineers a turnaround that continues to be a key part of not only automotive history but business history. As a young teenager, that inspired me. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had my own subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and Business Week.
Don’t judge me for this, but my favorite movie in high school is I would rent on VHS. That’s how old I am. It was Wall Street with Michael Douglas, who won the Academy Award playing the character Gordon Gecko. That further drove me to understand business and identify a career path at age eighteen, where I would have the hopeful opportunity and privilege of working with the captains of the industry. Those individuals are both changing our landscape and also seeking to change our landscape in our world.
Brandon, is it somehow planted the seed in you that you can master the calculated risk? There are not a lot of folks who can do what you do who can roll the dice with millions of dollars at stake and believe that this project will be profitable, having not sold one lease yet and one property. Now, ladies and gentlemen, let’s amalgamate what Brandon has taught us so far.
He learns to roll the dice, take a calculated risk, do his due diligence, and figure out if it’s worth taking the risk. At the same time, you wanted to take that quality and team up with the industry leaders and those who were in a position to help you roll the dice and pay that price so that you can enjoy the prize forever. Let’s jump right then and there. Now you’re eighteen, unbeknownst to you. Maybe you didn’t take the time to quantify what you had learned but it was now part of who Brandon Fugal was. What did you do next?
One week out of high school, I jumped into commercial real estate. Within weeks, I had my license and started with a brokerage firm, a boutique firm in Salt Lake City that had spun off. In fact, the principal was the former top producer of what was then Coldwell Banker Commercial. He was the leading commercial broker at that time. That’s what inspired me to reach out to him. He turned me down four times.
He basically told me, “You seem like a good kid and you’re a driven young man but go on a mission. Go get your college degree and sell Xerox copy machines or whatever for a few years and then come back and talk to me.” I left dejected every time but I was relentless in coming back. As I was getting my license, I told them, “What is it going to take in order to have a desk in your office and launch my career with your firm?”
He reluctantly allowed me in. I cut a deal that was not in my best interest financially but I didn’t care at that time because I saw it as my Harvard MBA equivalent. As I was going to what is now UVU, at the same time, I had a leadership scholarship out of high school. I was student body president.
It’s the largest university in Utah.
They have 43,000 students.
In case we don’t get back to this, in his level of success, he donated $5 million to build a building to advance the education of other kids to take advantage of the path that you followed. Thank you so much for your big heart.
It’s my school.
I know it’s your school to give back. That’s so cool.
I bleed green, as they say, but it was interesting. It was a challenging time. During that first year in the business, many people didn’t realize I only made $500.
What year was that?
1991 to 1992. I made $500 working over 40 hours a week while carrying a full load in college. Still, I learned how to build a proprietary database and the power of information during that year as well as the ropes associated with the commercial real estate business and being a business infrastructure expert. That experience was invaluable. It was worth more than money could buy.
Did you read books? Did you take seminars? Did you interview experts who had done what you wanted to do?
I read a number of books. My father, who was my greatest mentor, turned me on to a number of books. The typical Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People and Og Mandino’s classics. At the end of the day, I spent most of my time reading all of the trades and periodicals. Business Week, Forbes, and Fortune were my staples. I read those cover to cover so I could understand at least be able to speak intelligently relative to every sector of our economy. The Economist is another publication that I’ve read since I was a teenager.
Relationships are key. At the end of the day, the most valuable thing that you can take with you in this life are relationships and the experience that is born out of those relationships.
People ask me how I prepare as a professional speaker. I have to read what my audience reads so that I can have an intelligent conversation and speak as one having authority as we know and communicate with them on their level. It’s never about us. It’s always about them. That’s interesting that because of your love of literature and learning exponentially catapulted you into an equality position with these industry leaders. It basically tore down the barricade of age, and no longer did you have to deal with, “I was a young kid.” I still don’t think you shave, but here’s this young guy, and you prove to them, to yourself, and to all of us that age has nothing to do with success and significance. It’s about preparation, passion, and purpose.
It is age, background, and where you grow up, although we are all products of our environment to a degree. The beautiful thing about the American dream and this incredible country that we live in is that there are opportunities for anyone regardless of their station in life, background, and upbringing. There are opportunities to succeed and contribute to the community and play a key role in the success of our economy.
Back to all of the publications you were reading that qualified you to have an intelligent conversation with industry leaders. What drew you to commercial real estate versus residential real estate?
I’ve never sold a house, so the residential market is a completely different beast. What drew me to commercial real estate, to be honest, was during my senior year in high school. I embarked on this research project to identify the career path that would afford me the opportunity to work with these captains of industry. Those are the people that were gracing the covers of Utah Business or even the Wall Street Journal.
As I went down the list, I met with the managing partner of a law firm Downtown who was kind enough to give me a few minutes then I met with a business banker. In fact, he was with Zions Bank at that time then I met with a securities broker. As I went out and conducted research, I found that there were either significant age educational or other barriers or prerequisites. I was fortunate to learn that as long as you have your 120 hours of education licensing to get your real estate license in Utah, you only have to be eighteen to qualify for your license.
You have to complete the hours, then you have to take the four-hour test, and then you have to affiliate. You have to hang your license with a firm that has the resources, hopefully, and the platform. I found that commercial real estate, at least, seemed to afford that opportunity to a young man like me. That’s the long and short of it. It was the path of least resistance, but it was a tough path because the sales cycle associated with commercial real estate and commercial real estate transactions is very long.
A lot of people don’t realize the time between engaging with a client or prospective client to transacting business and being paid can span years. Hence, during the starvation period of my first year, I’m only making $500. It was simply because it takes a long time to build your book of business and to be able to take clients through that process, which is very lengthy and complex. The commercial real estate business is quite unique. You’re dealing with hundreds of different types of contracts, properties, and deal structures. It requires not only a level of creativity but competence and the ability to work with a legal counsel or attorneys to try to help clients meet a win-win scenario.
The ability to take a blank canvas, and you alluded to this earlier, let’s say a 100-acre piece of property on I-15 and to be able to envision how to create value there, a world-class office park, mall, or mixed-use development that will transform a community. That’s part of the exciting opportunity that I found in commercial real estate. Commercial real estate provided a path for me to see a tangible manifestation of my labors, the results of my work, and my fingerprints on the landscape in a very literal way.
It’s like having a baby. It’s the conception.
I would say the biggest rush some days is seeing steel rise. I’ve seen steel rise in our communities and seen them transformed into places of employment, places where people can shop, be entertained, and be educated. There is a lot of privilege. Many days, I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Other days, it’s a slog. It has its character-building moments.
You’re chairman of Collier. Take us back to the Coldwell Banker days when you were a Founder and Co-owner. You’re more than a realtor. Talk about your national awards as the number one developer and producer. Talk to us about all those hats you wore in the same timeframe over a fourteen-year period.
By the time I was 25, an opportunity had come up to establish Coldwell Banker Commercial Bank in Utah. Non-competes had run out between the predecessor company, and I was excited to take it forward.
We launched in 1998 when I was 25 years old Coldwell Banker Commercial here in Utah. It was exciting. My first employee was my head of graphics who is still with me now. He’s been with me as my graphics director since I was 22 years old which is a blessing to have that continuity. Many of my mentors and partners have thankfully stayed with me, and they are in the same office to this day.
By 2013, I ended up taking the company private, and I launched an ambitious national expansion campaign with the help of my CEO, a gentleman named Lew Cramer, who I had recruited. One of the most important deals that I’ve closed in the last decade, hands down, was stealing Lew Cramer away from being President of World Trade Center Utah, the key confidant to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and making him CEO of what became the fastest-growing privately held commercial real estate firm in the country. We went from three offices in Utah to 30 offices nationally in 2 years’ time in 11 states from New York to LA.
It was an incredible ride. It was a humbling experience, though. We got over our skis a bit and it was a learning experience that I’ll never forget but coming out of that, we had the opportunity to merge with Colliers International. Colliers right now is 1 of the big 3 global players and the fastest-growing in the big three operating in 67 countries, 17,000 professionals, and 500 offices.
Having a truly global platform over the last few years has helped catapult us into a better position to serve our community and clients like never before. Still, not forgetting the roots of my practice which was built on proprietary market intelligence and information that can be leveraged in order to help people, companies, and organizations save money and be positioned for success.
The definition of sales, leadership, management, coaching, and parenting is the transference of trust. It’s no surprise that you still have some of these original employees as team members because you based your entire operation then and in a global sense on the same irrefutable qualities and core values of integrity, service before self-loyalty, and excellence in all you do. It’s such an honor to have you in this program because you’re the poster child.
Relationships are key. At the end of the day, the most valuable thing that you can take with you in this life are relationships and the experience that is born out of those relationships. I have been very fortunate to have mentors, partners, and important influences in my life. Even the mentor I had when I was 21 and 22 years old is still with our firm. He’s in our Downtown office and we still compare notes and work on transactions together, which is the case with some of my key staff. To have an environment where you have a family of people with a shared goal and objective of serving the community and producing results. It’s exciting.
Every building is another part of your posterity. It’s like a genealogy family history lesson every time you drive around. You’re like, “I birthed that building. I conceived and birth at that building.” How cool is that?
They’re all my children. It is so exciting to be able to go back. I know when I’m getting old because I can go back three decades from now. In June 2022 will be my 31st year in the business. For so many years, I was the young gun, a guy in his early twenties. I sold my first office park when I was nineteen years old. I was on my mission but that’s another story. To be transacting business and working with so many important institutions at a young age was an incredible opportunity. Now, I find myself being in the role of a more senior veteran. I’m a 17-year-old stuck in a 49-year-old body.
True to your vision and desire, almost your innate addiction to keep rolling the dice, I want to do something. You’re the consummate football star. You work 99 yards to get into the end zone. If you stay in the end zone and celebrate longer than fifteen seconds, you get flagged for excessive celebration. You have to say, “What now? What’s next? Now, what do we do? We can’t play.”
Too many times, I’ve been in the stance. You have momentum and then you stop playing to win. You start playing not to lose and you’ve never had that experience. That brings up another powerful question I have to ask you. When COVID hit, I did a huge regional training for Keller Williams down in Dallas.
No one wants to know values, no one cares what you did yesterday. They want to know what you have now, closing what results you’re producing.
The guy pulls me aside when I show up into town then we go to dinner. He said, “I want you to know that about 50% of the population of the State of Texas decided not to participate in COVID.” I laughed and I’m like, “I see what you’re saying,” but now let’s go to the reality piece. People are stuck at home. We are locked, loaded, and shut down. The government says no. You’re in the commercial real estate business and no one is allowed to come to work.
All of us seem to say, “Whoa me.” In the commercial real estate world, especially as a leader and one of the top three global firms in the world, how did you stay focused? Did you believe that every storm has an end and you’ve got to have a storm in order to have a rainbow? How did you sustain that in the continuing development? You did not slow down. I kept driving around saying, “A new building is coming up under Brandon Fugal.” How did you sustain the belief and the conviction that all will be well and stay true to what got you where you are?
I have always psyched myself out to feel perpetually unemployed. Some of the most frightening days of my life have been those days immediately following closing the biggest deals of my career because I literally feel unemployed. You’re only as good as your next deal is a very true saying.
No one wants to know values. No one cares what you did yesterday. They want to know what you have now and closing what results in you’re producing. I have always had that element of fear that pit in my stomach every morning and at the beginning of every week and year, feeling perpetually unemployed. Only as good as my next deal. When COVID hit, it was an interesting dynamic.
We’ve never seen, in the history of the world, a government-mandated shutdown where people have been forced to not go into their places of work. A few years ago, we were in apocalyptic zombie territory. I remember looking out over the Valley from my top floor office and seeing entire parking lots in the middle of the week and workday completely vacant. Hotels, restaurants, places of work, and office parks are completely vacant.
All of which are commercial real estate.
You’re talking about the foundational infrastructure of our communities. It was an interesting time. It was a time when I think everyone hit the reset to a degree and priority shifted. We went from being in hyper-drive as an economy to everyone huddling in their basements watching Netflix, Tiger King, and chasing down toilet paper. Talk about a twilight zone type of experience. It drove me to come in earlier in the day and work later because I felt like now was the time to position and be confident.
As the captain of my ship, I felt like it was my duty and responsibility, not only to my people in the firm but to my clients, to send a message of stability and confidence even in the midst of great uncertainty. If there’s one thing that has been constant in this world, it changes, whether it comes in the form of a Great Recession, a financial crisis, or a Black Swan event like this health crisis. The only thing we can plan on or at least anticipate is that things are to change. Nothing will stay the same.
By that same token, things are bound to swing back. I knew that this, too, shall pass. This moment in time would hopefully pass, and being ready and positioned to help my clients prevail in the midst of challenges and adversity is a key part of our value proposition. Not losing our heads when everyone else is either losing theirs or gone to sleep in a state of paralysis.
You have to go negotiate compassionate deals with the financial world with the banks to allow your restauranteurs not to pay your rent until the sun comes back up the next day.
There were deferments. It took a collaborative and cooperative effort in our business community and beyond to work through that storm and survive. I have a project in Hawaii. It’s a 1,250-acre assemblage on the North shore of Hawaii. It’s the crown jewel of the Dole foods empire. I had acquired that assemblage and began master planning with partners as this dynamic agricultural community would bring sustainability to Hawaii.
We were setting the stage to start transacting business and unveil our master plan, and then the pandemic hits. What happens? Quarantine. People can’t come. You can’t transact business. I’m thankful for the people who were patient with us, the lenders and the communities to support each other. That’s one thing I love about Utah. It’s our sense of community. Utah is a special place. People fly in literally almost every day to meet in our offices. They’re looking to invest in this market, expand into this market, or evaluate as a potential target. Everyone asks, “Why is Utah consistently at the top of every list?” Dynamism and business growth. We have the lowest unemployment and the second-fastest growing economy in the United States presently.
They say, “What is it that sets Utah apart?” I tell them, “Honestly, it’s not just one thing. It’s a host of factors. It is our young, highly educated workforce.” That pioneer spirit that established Utah is still alive and well in our community. You see it manifest in our venture capital community which is punching way above its weight class now. The level of M&A activity that is occurring in Utah is staggering.
Silicon slopes with high-tech investment and education are phenomenal.
You look at philanthropy in Utah. Utah has consistently ranked the most giving state in the country. People love the community and they’re there for their neighbors.
We still hold the record in the Olympic World. I served on the Olympic Committee in the 2002 Olympics, and I think Utah’s still logged more volunteer hours than any other Olympic games in the history of the Olympics because of our volunteer service.
It’s service. Dedication and commitment to the community set us apart. You see that in public-private engagement. Our governor’s office and state municipal officials are holding hands with the business community in order to come up with solutions and drive smart growth and prosperity, hopefully for all. It is a big part of our success and future.
Let’s use that as a pivot point and get into two very interesting parts of your life. A lot of us have been able to make a little bit of money. You’ve made so much more money than me, but it’s fun to at least have a checking account these days. To see what you’ve been able to do with the wealth that you’ve amassed, to share some of your loves and childlike wonderment with the rest of the world, one of which is the Skinwalker Ranch, which we’ll go to at the end. I want to get into your collection of historical artifacts. I love books. I’ve read one book a week for several years. My mother always tells the world that I think I’ve written more books than I ever read.
She doesn’t know about my love of literature and history. When I travel, I’ll listen to the oral arguments at the Supreme Court in our nation’s capital and spend the rest of the time in museums. That intrigues me so much about not only your collection. Not only you as a collector of it. I want to know a little bit more about your collectibles, Brandon. Talk to us about some of your more interesting collectibles and why you got into them. What drives you to continuously seek out the first additions, the historical clothing, and monumental artifacts that literally have changed our history or been part of our history?
As a child of the ‘80s, I was raised on a constant diet of Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, and James Cameron. You name it. I am a product of my environment to a degree and was inspired by a lot of those movies that formed my worldview, movies and television. As I’ve grown into adulthood, I had a dream to start collecting those items that had an impact on my worldview. I call it the Raiders of the Lost Ark or an Indiana Jones type of drive in me to try to locate those cultural artifacts that have shaped our world and inspired others.
What was your very first one?
I started with rare books to begin with. Some of my most valued artifacts are a very diverse collection. The King James Bible and Shakespeare’s Folio are two arguably most influential printed works in the history of the world. It has done more to influence English language, culture, our figures of speech, and our faith. One of my priorities, as I’ve developed the means to be able to acquire some of these special artifacts, was reaching out and being able to locate some of these items to have a physical representation of our world and what has shaped our world.
It’s service and a dedication and commitment to community that sets Utah apart.
The 1611 King James Bible that I have in my possession only had two owners. One is the Parish Church out of Cambridge, England which took delivery in 1611. It was their cherished pulpit copy and came to me the last couple of years as they needed to sell it to make some important repairs to a 1280 structure. The Shakespeare’s Folio, which has its original medieval binding in place looks like something right out of a movie, but it’s real.
They’re very well protected with security but do you have the Brandon Fugal museum that I’ve never heard about?
They are in my office. I typically keep most of my collection rotating through the offices. To go a polar opposite direction, Some of my other precious artifacts include Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fake blood and bullet hole, riddled jacket from the Terminator. His Terminator arm that he posed with. Those are incredible artifacts as I’m a big Sci-Fi fan. Wolverine’s claws fitted to Hugh Jackman for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. David Bowie’s crystal ball from the Jim Henson classic Labyrinth. It’s diversity.
Speaking of Indiana Jones, I have the miniature arc of the covenant lid that was shot in that final climactic scene where the lid came down after all of the Nazis were annihilated by the forces that were unleashed from opening the arc of the covenant in that movie. It’s so many things. The first motion picture film that I remember as a young boy was Superman, the movie.
Is that with Christopher Reeves?
Yes. Some of the most meaningful artifacts that I have come from that movie. The original green Krypton crystal, the young Clark Kent found in the barn and ultimately was thrown up into the North Pole to create the fortress of solitude and the houses the knowledge of Krypton. That’s an important piece of movie history. Christopher Reeve’s flying suit. Durell’s costume. Marlon Brando who opened the first minutes of Superman as Superman’s father on Krypton and those black judgment robes, the glowing silver ass. I have those in my collection. I look forward to sharing those with generations to come.
All of these things stand to inspire and help us remember which has influenced and driven us in all of our journeys to a degree. Mormon history is another. I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to Hawaii, and that triggered in me a love of history and a desire to understand my roots. What drove my ancestors to follow a religious movement at that time? That led me to ultimately acquire everything from all of our cadres’ Book of Mormon to the first Book of Mormon: 1830 Palmyra, 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, 1851 Pearl of Great Price that foundational printed works of the faith. I don’t care what your religious persuasion is.
In fact, I have dear friends that come from all denominations and some who don’t affiliate at all and honor them in their journey and respect that everyone has a different path. I find that my faith is if George Lucas were to come up with a Judeo-Christian religious equivalent of Star Wars, I think he’d find it in Mormonism. It’s funny I get questions all the time not to jump to the Skinwalker Ranch, but people ask me relative to my ownership of this very unique piece of property.
They said, “With the things that you’re encountering and studying, does that, in any way, conflict with the faith that you grew up in?” I say, “Absolutely not. I was raised to believe there are worlds of that number, we’re not alone in the universe, and we’re part of a divinely inspired existence. Everything we’re doing in a strange way attests to that.” I know it sounds strange but it’s faith-promoting if you want to call it that. It has been an important part of my journey and development.
Let’s go to Skinwalker Ranch. What we need to do is get everybody to tune in to the History Channel. It’s in its third season. A mutual friend of ours is the manager. They had Rancher at Skinwalker Ranch, Thomas Winterton. He’s a dear friend of mine.
He’s been our acting superintendent since the month I acquired it in April of 2016.
I don’t know if you would know this connection, but on October 23rd, 2010, I had a chance to be in the Edge of Space in U-2 Community aircraft. Since it’s a classified mission, I can only tell the world and the State of California that at 80,000 feet, you see mapped outlines of America. At 90,000 feet, you feel like you can reach out and touch the face of God. It was a spiritual experience that I wish everybody could have.
Bezos and Branson, to the tune of billions of dollars, launched to landing only were in space for eleven minutes. They only saw the curvature of the Earth for one minute. They were launched like a rock. For five and a half hours, I sat in the sounds of silence, gazing into the endless blackness of the universe, pondering eternity and my place in it. To that spiritual note, a mutual friend of ours, Mr. Uchtdorf, as we affectionately call him, Dieter Uchtdorf. I quote his words that we have to be more than mere mortal beings living on a small planet for a short season, and to your point, good brother.
I’m in the U-2 Community and I’ve been downrange eight times in Iraq and Afghanistan. I served as a Pentagon appointee for many years with the chief of staff of the Air Force. Many of the four-star gens, three-star generals, and all the pilots are dear friends of mine and I have flown every fighter jet and every bomber. I’ve interviewed so many pilots from the U-2 Community. When I was up in space with my commander on the Edge of Space, I said, “What’s the most significant thing that you can teach me now?” He says, “You and I are the highest human beings other than those cosmonauts and astronauts living on the space station.”
I got emotional. I teared up and fogged up my space helmet. He said, “I wish you could fly up here at night because we’re so close to the stars. You don’t need a light to read a book. It is so bright in the cockpit.” It’s illuminated in every single one of these U-2 pilots to the tune of about fifteen so far, all attest to having their own UFO experience.
They’ve seen things that they can’t explain that don’t match any conventional.
Only now, as the US government and the United States Air Force are coming forth and saying, “We’ve had these classified documents. Maybe there’s more to this than we’ve ever reported.” Every single one of these pilots, men of integrity who have no reason to exaggerate, said, “They’ve had legit UFO experiences.” Let’s get right to the Skinwalker Ranch.
Most of these men see it as a liability and, at great professional risk, admit to the reality of witnessing these things. It is not for the faint of heart. These topics are very unique.
Are you a helicopter pilot?
I own a helicopter. It’s an Airbus H130 Eurocopter. It’s state-of-the-art. I think it’s the most advanced civilian helicopter in the Intermountain West, and my brother, Cameron, who is my pilot and partner in our aviation company, has been my right hand in utilizing aviation. Not only in my business with commercial real estate site selection but also in being able to go back and forth from this very unique 512-acre property in Northeastern, Utah.
Animal mutilation, unexplained energy, and the Triangle, I’ve studied it. I’m so intrigued. Take us to where you want to begin. Begin with your curiosity about the unexplained phenomenon, how that led you to purchase and acquire the Skinwalker Ranch, and how it got its name. Once we go there, I’ll let you take a breath, then start getting into some of the unexplained phenomena that you’re an eyewitness to.
That’s a loaded series of questions, so I’ll try to tackle it quickly here. I had been funding an advanced Physics program as an entrepreneur several years ago. During that program, we had certain science advisors that held high-level security clearances with the aerospace and the intelligence community. That program ended up being shut down. It was a character-building experience for me, one where I lost money and some sanity.
The secret to success and this is going to sound somewhat trite and simple but it rings true. Follow the golden rule: As long as you treat others as you would want to be treated, incredible things happen.
I became very skeptical of anyone who would make bold claims relative to not only Advances Physics but a lot of other topics. These individuals who I came to find out where the science advisors to an elusive billionaire out of North Las Vegas named Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace, who had made his money in real estate. He is the developer of the Budget Suites of America extended hotel chain. He reached out to me and essentially invited me to meet with Mr. Bigelow and discuss a certain piece of property that he had been involved in Northeastern Utah that he had acquired in 1996 that came to be known as Skinwalker Ranch.
I had read a book back in 2006, I believe, that had been released relative to the scientific investigation that this elusive billionaire had been funding and conducting on the property. I honestly had read it over a weekend and dismissed it. I didn’t think anything more of it. These individuals reached out to me and invited me to take a meeting to discuss this property because apparently, Mr. Bigelow had been swept up, quite busy with his private aerospace program.
He had acquired the space habitats program from NASA, the inflatables program. He’s the only private entrepreneur on the planet that has two space stations in orbit. One of his modules is now up on the international space station. He’s focused most of his efforts and resources in that direction and the Utah Ranch project, which I learned had been part of a Pentagon-funded Black Budget program between 2008 and 2013. He had sunset it and was ready for new stewardship. Long story short, I flew down and took the meeting.
As I met with Mr. Bigelow, the former owner, I told him, “I’m a skeptic. I’ve never seen a UFO, a ghost, or anything like that in my life. If I were to purchase this property, I would install my own scientific professionals, scientists and security. I fully anticipate that there will be a natural prosaic explanation for all that has been reported on this property. I hope you don’t mind that. Please don’t take offense.” He chuckled along with his chief scientist and said, “Good luck with that.” They had a file full of reports on bizarre daylight cattle mutilations where prized cattle had been drained of their blood in broad daylight, surgically dissected. No trace of who came and performed the procedures, but it was indeed real.
It had all these reports from a veterinarian along with a host of other material dealing with the UFO phenomenon, the high-frequency apparently of activity out there. Anyway, we struck a deal secretly. I never intended to reveal my identity as the owner. I did not want my ownership of this very unique property with its storied history in any way under my professional endeavors and my obligations all day, every day in leading the commercial real estate market, servicing clients, and working with the captains of industry.
Those first several years, I had everyone sign confidentiality agreements and liability waivers. I’ve got to tell you, Dan. For the first six months of owning it, I didn’t see anything with my own eyes that would qualify as unusual. In fact, I found it to be a very peaceful place. It’s a very diverse, strikingly beautiful backdrop. You’ve got a red rock Mesa plateau that runs the expanse with cave systems. You have water that runs through the property, a dry Gulch Creek, and four old pioneer homesteads that are still barely standing.
You could shoot any number of Hollywood productions on this property with these. As I owned the property, I was traveling there via helicopter to inspect it on a monthly basis and meet with my team as we were starting to deploy security assets to see if there was anything going on of an unusual nature. At first, I was very skeptical. It was only after about six months, and in fact, I owned it from April of 2016 until October of that same year, before I had my own experience that defied all explanation and changed my worldview.
What was that?
I’ve told this quite often in interviews and in various publications. In the middle of the day, while entertaining a dignitary that had requested access to the ranch, we experienced all sorts of strange phenomena. It started off as electromagnetic anomalies, smartphones malfunctioning, to smartphones being drained. People are feeling strange sensations. We had one individual, a very large man security professional, that was there. He’s a 6’6 built like a tank that was rendered catatonic that was frozen.
Following all of these unusual events, as we are traveling back to the ranch house, back to base camp, if you will, in this open-air UTV, we saw what can only be described as a flying saucer. A 40 to 50-foot-long silver grayish dislike object that was right there above us in broad daylight, hovering over the Mesa, proceeded to maneuver, to dart back and forth, up and down with split-second speed, and was gone. Within 20 seconds, it was like a bullet and out of vision. It was undeniable. We had a combination of electromagnetic anomalies, acute medical episodes, battery drainage, and other events that attended this period of time, where we saw what can only be described as a UFO, an Unidentified Flying Object.
How many of you were in the open air?
There were three of us that witnessed it. All three of us had a sidebar discussion where we expressed that we were skeptics and weren’t the type that would believe that we’d see anything unusual and didn’t hold any stock in it. All three of us saw the same thing. We were sequestered and our testimonies were taken by my chief scientist in order to preserve the record, the data involving that incident, and others related.
It changed my view. I doubled down. From that day forward, the investment into the infrastructure and the technology platforms that are monitoring everything on that property has been a key priority. I think using science, technology, and service to understand the nature of what we’re dealing with has been job one. We’ve done a great job of pulling together a multidisciplinary team to collaborate on that. It ultimately caught the attention of the History Channel. I had still kept my identity secret.
In fact, I did not go public until March of 2020. I want everyone to know. Go back into the public domain. You’ll find that before March of 2020, I chose to remain confidential and private as the owner. I had no desire to go public. I was in no way looking to exploit this property. I still have yet to put a penny in my own pocket personally relative to the effort. It was only after executives that the History Channel and the production company flew out after persisting for a year with my people to get an audience that I finally at least opened my mind.
I half kiddingly say that they Jedi mind trick me into doing the deal, and the rest is history. We ended up bringing a team of production. 3 to 4 months of the year, we’ve had a full team of production professionals. We’re talking about 25 of the leading drone operators, cameramen, and audio technicians on the planet situated on this property in service to documenting a very real, unscripted investigation. There is no script. It is the absolute truth. That was my condition with the History Channel. Everything had to be 100% true fact. Nothing could be contrived, fabricated, and manipulated. I didn’t want to be any part of any ghost hunter-type effort that would be questioned. I wanted to keep our eye on the science.
What’s one of the most frightening experiences? In one of your episodes, you’re flying in your helicopter with your brother, and you experience this unbelievable whack-a-doodle interference with your navigation system with your instrumentation. Watching that, I was even afraid because I’ve been in helicopters before and wondered what I would have done in that situation. Talk to us.
My brother, Cameron, had been piloting the helicopter for a survey at 5,000 feet above what we call The Triangle, the infamous Triangle and the heart of Skinwalker Ranch. For whatever reason, there seems to be a concentration of strange activity, whether it be electromagnetic anomalies, even UFO sightings, or whatnot, that happened in the vicinity of this area of the ranch. I authorized using the helicopter in service to go above the ranch, conduct a survey, and use scientific equipment.
When my brother went above the ranch with Dr. Travis Taylor, who has multiple PhDs, very well-respected physicist along with my other physicist, our full-time physicist, and a scientific director, Eric Bard, they experienced something very strange and alarming. There was an object caught on essentially the altimeter that is supposed to monitor how close you are to the ground or any other object. They’re picking up an object that was tracking with them 40 feet below the helicopter. My brother tried to perform evasive maneuvers to get away from it or at least see if he could jostle the equipment, and it stuck with them.
Was he at 5,000?
About 5,000 feet. It was very concerning. They ended up calling it off. Within seconds of stating that he was calling it off and returning back to the heliport, the object was gone and the disruption ended up disappearing. As they later reviewed the surveillance footage or the camera footage tracking the helicopter. You can see something passing beneath the helicopter that was obviously cloaked but there was enough residual or trace of something under the helicopter simultaneous with when those alarms were going off when they were documenting that there was something below.
Using the scientific instrumentation in service to documenting the reality that our airspace is, I say, being violated. I know that sounds strong, but it is. We’re seeing things that are in our airspace that defy any conventional explanation that isn’t showing up on any of our avionics receiving platforms. They’re neither military that we know of, private or commercial aircraft. They’re utilizing Advanced Physics or propulsion technology. It’s definitely Advanced Physics.
They would have been with that.
The best response to adversity is to double down and go out and try to do good work.
In the blink of an eye and are 1 or 2 steps ahead of us at every stage of our investigation. We’re learning a lot. We’re we are preparing to unveil some compelling new discoveries and evidence. It’s been like Christmas Eve or, probably more appropriately stated, the day before Halloween, waiting for this season premiere that’s coming up on May 3rd. It’s going to turn a lot of heads. We bring a whole new level of government oversight to a degree as far as some interesting people to the table that will be involved in our investigation. What we end up revealing and showing on our docuseries is nothing short of jaw-dropping. It’s the best evidence presented in the public domain that we are not alone.
Now, I want to qualify for this. Not to be verbose, but people ask me all the time, “Brandon Fugal, do you believe that you’re seeing aliens? Are you experiencing interdimensional, multidimensional entities or time travelers? Are you dealing with angels and demons or spiritual phenomenon?” I take a moment and simply respond with, “Yes, we probably are dealing with all the above, a diversity.”
I have not made a definitive statement nor do I know what we’re dealing with. The origin and agenda associated with the phenomenon continue to be elusive. It eludes even our military. We’re all trying to find out what is happening. There’s no question now. It is reality. Anyone who does their due diligence and denies the reality is misguided.
As you said, the agenda. What a powerful word. Let’s consolidate our time in our interview. Here we have a disruptor, an investor, a risk-taker, a champion of industry, a captain of your own ship, a philanthropist, a family man of four beautiful children, and thousands of little building children that you’ve created in birth over the country and throughout the world, what’s your message to Power Player? Can anybody do what you do? If you had one hour to live, what’s your message to the world? Not what would you do like I’d go fishing more, spend more time with your beautiful wife, or whatever. I want to know what’s your message to the world as probably the epitome of the complete, consummate human being.
The older I get, I learn the less I know. If there’s one thing when asked, what is the secret to success that I only honestly can respond with, especially over decades of working with so many incredible human beings? The secret to success, and this is going to sound somewhat trite and simple, but it rings true, is to follow the golden rule. As long as you treat others as you would want to be treated, incredible things happen. You get back what you put out there in the universe. The nature and power of our consciousness, the ability for us to impact our environment and others, and see that come back visited upon ourselves is very real. I’ve found in my own travels and personal journey, and I’ve had so many humbling experiences.
I’ve had to learn so much. I’m still learning so much. I’ve found that the one thing that does hold true, as long as you treat others as you’d want to be treated and obey the golden rule, things work out. You’re led down paths that are incredible. The other thing to add an addendum to is to never underestimate the power of a relationship. Never let the relationship arrogance seep in. You never know who is going to be your next big billionaire client.
You never know where your next opportunity lies. Never look at a challenge or failure as a failure but merely an opportunity to grow, learn, and leverage that as jet fuel. That’s one thing I’ve been pretty good at. I am leveraging some of the seeming failures that I’ve had and using that to fuel my passion. The best response to adversity is to double down, go out, and try to do good work. That’s my long answer.
I’ll go on record that if we are dealing with entities, let’s not call them aliens, individuals, or life forces from another dimension. If we’re truly dealing with people who are investigating our society, the human being, there’s a real good chance that they’ve tapped you on the shoulder. There’s an interesting connection in my heart now that it’s more than serendipitous that you own Skinwalker Ranch because they want you. Remember, we have to trust the source of our truth. If you want to find out about Jesus stumbling towards the cross, you don’t ask Judas Iscariot. You go to Peter, James, John, or Mary, Jesus’s mother.
If you want to learn about one religious tradition, you don’t ask someone who’s anti-faith or anti-that particular religious tradition. We know that. You’re such a man of integrity. There’s a chance for whoever is trying to contact us and learn about our society and human being. They’ve decided to tap into Brandon Fugal because you’re the epitome of the human specimen that they want to be around. Why? It’s because of the golden rule. I believe they’re going to figure out a way to interact with humans based on the quality of character, the Brandon Fugal brings to the team.
That’s scary. That’s not what we thought.
You’re a conduit. You’re our ambassador. Go figure.
I don’t believe in coincidences at all. I used to, but I no longer think that things are coincidental. I believe that we truly are a part of a divinely inspired, guided if you will, existence, and putting ourselves in a position where we can be receptive and respond to that, and hopefully, contribute in a positive way to our world.
It’s a humbling opportunity with our team. I have to give so much credit to my partners and my team. You brought Thomas Winterton. Jim Morris was my first developer client when I was eighteen. He took a risk on a kid to market his six-story office building.
He’s the one that picked me up and told me about Skinwalker Ranch before we talked about taking me to be the keynote speaker to help Thomas Winter’s dad get elected in Vernal. I’ve known him forever.
He’s the real, most interesting man in the world with Eric Bard and Kaleb Bench, my caretakers. They go back to my high school years. I treasure the relationships that I have. I would be nowhere without them, without people that are incredible. Lew Cramer, I mentioned, my CEO. What an incredible man. I find myself inspired and driven to do better on a day-to-day basis. There are those special individuals that motivate not through guilt or fear but they motivate through the power of positivity. I’ve been very fortunate to have mentors like Lew Cramer, that have been part of my journey as partners. Dan, I’m so thankful for this opportunity to engage with you.
What a great interview with a great human being.
I appreciate this. We look forward to, hopefully, more to come. We’ll make some history in the process.
I’ll fly to Skinwalker Ranch on your helicopter. I’ll buy the fuel to have the experience.
We’ll look forward to providing an exclusive briefing and you helping us hopefully discover what it plays.
Ladies and gentlemen, share this episode, Brandon Fugal. You can bet on the fact that Utah is the number one place to invest, live, be educated, and raise your family because of Brandon Fugal’s influence as a commercial real estate developer, visionary extraordinaire, who’s a businessman. He’s a powerful force and influence in our community in the political framework and everything else. I love you. I honor you. I admire you. This has got to be the greatest and most interesting interview I’ve ever had on my show.
It’s a privilege. I look forward to more to come. Thank you, all.
- Colliers International
- Coldwell Banker Commercial Capital Advisors
- Sinclair Broadcast Group
- How to Win Friends & Influence People
- Lew Cramer – LinkedIn
- Keller Williams
- King James Bible
- Book of Mormon: 1830 Palmyra
- 1835 Doctrine and Covenants
- 1851 Pearl of Great Price
- Book of Mormon
- Bigelow Aerospace
- Budget Suites of America
About Brandon Fugal
Brandon Fugal is the owner of Skinwalker Ranch. As the Chairman of Colliers International in Utah, Brandon is one of the most prominent businessmen and real estate developers in the Intermountain West.