Doug Robinson: From the Mailman to a businessman, Karl Malone still delivers the goods

Published: Tuesday, June 26 2012 8:58 p.m. MDT

Former NBA player Karl Malone does his radio show at ESPN 700 studios Wednesday, June 20, 2012.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Should we be surprised that Karl Malone, who once aspired to be a cop and a bodybuilder and governor and a hunting guide and a long-haul trucker and a radio personality and a pitchman and an actor and a pilot and a car salesman and a pro wrestler — and tried almost all of them while starring as a power forward for the Utah Jazz — has remade himself into a successful entrepreneur? Years ago, his late brother once told Malone, "If I had your money, I wouldn't do anything."

Instead, Malone does everything. Life is one big sampler box for The Mailman. Malone is still doing many of the things he dabbled with as a player except now they are connected to his growing collection of businesses, which focus largely on commercial development, restaurants and timberland operations, all under the umbrella of Malone Properties.

Are you sitting down? Malone will turn 50 next year and has been retired from basketball since 2004, but he's not exactly spending his retirement years on the golf course or lounging by the pool. If you ask him how he occupies his time these days, you'd better take a seat. This is going to take a while.

A list of Malone's businesses and properties:

A Texaco/Arby's in Ruston.

A Teriyaki Grill franchise in Ruston, purchased from founder Mike Keim, a Draper resident and former BYU/NFL football player.

A 230-acre cattle ranch.

Three Jiffy Lube franchises in Utah.

Two Burger King franchises (part owner), one in Utah, one in Idaho.

Karl Malone Used Car Outlet in Sandy, which includes 22 acres.

Karl Malone Toyota in Draper, which is undergoing a major expansion.

M&M Automotive, an accessories shop located in his used-car store in Sandy.

A body shop/collision center, which is being constructed adjacent to his car dealership.

Two condos at Green Valley Resort in St. George.

A "few thousand acres" of Louisiana timberland property, which he continues to acquire. He harvests trees on the property. He also owns the oil, gas and mineral rights. (Malone said he had spent the previous two days hauling timber with his truck. "He loves trucking," says one associate. "That's his way to do something he loves. He's in the truck by himself. It gives him time to think.")

A commercial development business whose current project is a 37-acre outdoor mall in Ruston — North Village Plaza. It includes "pad sites, restaurants, in-line retail and big box stores." Malone is selling sites to retail stores and businesses. He also built a 12,000-square-foot retail building on the property that he is trying to lease to as many as six businesses.

A deer-raising venture. For years Malone has raised white-tail and axis deer on 300 acres of fenced property. "It's fun to ride around with him looking at the deer," says friend and business partner Rob Ariotti. "He loves to watch these deer grow. He's not all hunter." Hold that thought because …

Malone recently created Malone Outfitters. As a licensed guide, he will take clients hunting on his deer property. He will guide his first hunt this year.

If that isn't enough, Malone says he is negotiating an outdoor show with a couple of TV networks — he says he can't say any more about it except, "I'm working on something pretty big" — and recently signed on as a radio host with ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City, but more on that later.

Malone peppers his conversation with talk of appreciating and depreciating assets, working capital and long-term value. He says he learned about business from Larry Miller, the late entrepreneur, car dealer and owner of the Jazz.

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