Where did your life take you after graduating from Episcopal?
I attended UNC Chapel Hill and graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration at the Kenan Flagler Business School. I wanted to go into investment banking, but was not given the opportunity at that time. The other jobs I was offered did not fit my desire, so I elected to apply and attend UNC Chapel Hill’s Masters of Accounting program at the Kenan Flagler Business School. After that degree, I accepted a job with a regional investment bank specializing in healthcare mergers, acquisition, and capital raise transactions.
How did you make the switch from investment banking to starting your own wine company?
After three years as an investment banker I had spent nights working and sleeping under my desk and under the conference table many times. When my obligation with the firm was complete, I felt that I needed to strike out on my own. I started a venture capital firm with several connections I had met in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. At that time (March of 2001), capital markets dried up quickly with the demise of the internet boom to bust industry. One of the companies we looked at investing in was an import wine business. While I knew nothing about wine, I knew that given the internet crash, I needed a “bricks and mortar” business.
As the owner of Capital Properties, what kind of work do you do now?
Initially, I purchased properties from banks during the downturn. I purchased 1,500 residential lots in nine subdivisions, 10 commercial buildings, mobile home parks, and landfills. After that, I purchased the assets of a large homebuilder and started Shenandoah Homes last July (www.shenandoahhomes.us
). In 2016, Shenandoah will close on the sale of over 100 houses and is on pace to build and sell over 250 in 2017.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your career? The most challenging?
That I am a developer and homebuilder. I never thought that is what I would do.
Was there an EHS teacher or experience that you consider especially influential?
I think the experience of Episcopal as a whole. I love being a part of it. While challenging and difficult at the time, it was a rite of passage and there was a pride in success, and that stays with you.
What is the most important thing you've learned since graduating?
That great people have failed at many things. There is no difference between us and those that have accomplished great things before us. What made those people different is that they kept trying. Persistence will prevail.
What career advice would you give someone interested in becoming a real estate investor?
Timing means more in real estate than in most areas. If you stick with it, your time will come.