Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Power List 2023: Real Estate & Construction

Brian Allen
Andy Andrews
Rob Barnhill
Kirk Bradley
Andrea Bushnell
Tommy Camp 
Roy Carroll II
Walker Collier
Pat Dean
Lili Dunn
Brett Gray
Clay Grubb

Neal Hanks
Johno Harris III
Greg Hatem
Sam Hunter
Mark Johnnie
David Jones
Johnathan Kane
Greg Keith, Jr.
Fred Klein
Ted Klinck
Mike Lancaster
Pete Lash


Steve McClure
Tino McFarland
Tim Minton
Chase Monroe
Compie Newman
Greg Peele
Gregory Poole, III
Bob Portman
Gary Rabon
David Ravin
Pat Riley
Pat Rodgers


Edwin Rose
Arthur Samet
Greg Sanchez
Dave Simpson
Tim Smith
Thomas Taft Jr.
Robin Team
Aaron Thomas*
Eddie Vannoy
Ed Weisiger Jr.
Paul Zarian


CEO | Metcon

Aaron Thomas credits his late grandfather, Curt Locklear, with teaching him what it takes to be successful.

The Lumbee Indian businessman started a one- room hardware store in Pembroke after serving in World War II. That small business would grow to become one of the largest True Value-franchised retail centers and lumber yards in the eastern U.S., Thomas says. “He made sure that any minute I was not in school, I was at work with him,” says Thomas.

Sparked by his grandfather’s mentoring starting at age 10, Thomas started his general contracting firm at age 24 in 1999. It has completed more than 700 projects and become one of the state’s fastest-
growing major contractors. It’s the largest minority-owned construction company in the Carolinas with offices in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Pembroke and Raleigh, along with Columbia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and National Harbor, Maryland.

Thomas has forged close relationships with state political leaders and serves on the executive board of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“[My grandfather] taught me the value in a hard day’s work and how to always take care of your customers and your community, which he did, and is at the heart of our mission at Metcon.” Thomas has a bachelor’s degree from UNC Pembroke and a master’s in construction management from East Carolina University.

Favorite family tradition: Lumbee homecoming
Favorite N.C. place to visit: Whether in a duck blind, fishing, or toes in the sand with family and friends, the Carolina coastline is my favorite place to visit.

What do you listen to on your commute: Calls on my iPhone.

Career highlight: The many amazing landmark buildings our team has been able to construct across the Carolinas. The great thing about the building business is we are able to take a blank canvas and partner with stakeholders to paint a masterpiece that can be admired and utilized throughout a lifetime of service.

Favorite hobby: Big game hunting across the U.S. and world.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Learn to be the best builder you can be first. After that, you will have a skill that can take you to whichever part of the industry you want to go to. True builders are a dying breed.

Key industry change in next five years: Shortages in global and regional supply chains as well as trained manpower will cause the industry as a whole to create new approaches to both.


president | Precision Walls

The Cary native and Campbell University graduate joined the family business after graduating in 1996. The now-employee stock owned business has more than 1,000 employees and 11 offices in four states.


chairman, CEO | Dominion Realty Partners

Andrews leads the company in its commercial and residential projects throughout three states. Since inception, Dominion Realty Partners has acquired and developed more than $3.5 billion worth of Certified Green projects. A former World Professional Tennis Tour pro for
five years, he has raised more than $9 million to bring tennis programs to underserved communities.

Favorite family tradition: Playing golf together.  

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Atlantic Beach

What do you listen to on your commute: Music 

Career highlight: Playing in all four grand slams in singles and doubles and creating Dominion Realty Partners. 

Favorite hobby: Golf 

Best advice for industry newcomers: Work hard,
know your product better than anyone and know
your competition. 

Key industry change in next five years: Rising interest rates must level off and lower for our industry to keep up with demand.


president | Barnhill Contracting

He’s the third generation of his family to lead the contracting company. The company’s work on the Greg Poole Jr. All Faiths Chapel at Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park was named a “Best Building Project” by the Carolinas Association of General Contractors last year.


CEO | Lee-Moore Capital

The Duke University graduate’s career has been spent in convenience retail and motor fuels distribution, venture capital and real estate development. The member of the UNC Board of Governors also developed the Governor’s Club golf course and real estate project. He’s helped attract key investments to Lee and Chatham counties.

Favorite family tradition: Holiday meals with extended family.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Too many to pick a favorite. It’s the variety of great places I love about N.C.

What do you listen to on your commute: Audiobooks, news or music. 

Major inspiration: Abraham Lincoln was constantly underestimated, yet had a grasp of how to navigate the most complex and challenging political situation of our nation if not ever, then certainly since the founding itself.  He was brilliant yet accessible and, most importantly, humble.  He was a Level 5 Leader in “Good to Great” parlance. 

Career highlight: Assisting in the positive economic development trajectory of the city of Sanford along with Chatham and Lee counties.

Favorite hobby: Reading

Best advice for industry newcomers: Network, network, network. Understanding every stakeholder in your industry and how they approach the market and problem-solving is essential.


CEO | NC Realtors

Bushnell is at the helm of the state’s largest trade association, with more than 57,000 members. The Montana State University graduate worked at Oregon’s Realtors association for 14 years before joining the
N.C. group in 2010.

Favorite family tradition: Traveling as a family. Hawaii has been our favorite destination.

Favorite N.C. place to visit:
Anywhere in the mountains. Blowing Rock, Boone,
Banner Elk — you name it.

What do you listen to on your commute: NPR 

Major inspiration: Jacqueline du Pre was my idol as a young cellist growing up in Montana. She was a young woman who reached the pinnacles of music performance as a solo cellist. I learned from her that persistence, practice and determination would allow me to accomplish whatever I wanted to accomplish in my life. Additionally, I had amazing parents who taught me those same lessons and who supported my early music career and subsequently, my legal and executive careers.

Favorite hobby: Tennis.
It is the best stress relief imaginable.

Best advice for industry newcomers: First, listen and learn your organization inside and out. Know your customers and the challenges they face and be empathetic! Then, don’t be afraid to innovate and bring new ideas to the table. There is nothing more valuable or exciting for an organization than new, fresh insights, perspectives and ideas.

Key industry change in next five years: Changes to how the Multiple Listing Service operates is likely to cause volatility in the industry.


president, CEO | Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Carolinas Realty

Camp is responsible for more than 900 agents across
15 offices, which cover residential real estate across the Carolinas. The firm previously operated as Prudential Carolinas Realty before it was purchased by Warren Buffet’s company in 2015.


founder, CEO | The Carroll Companies

The Greensboro native either owns or has under development 19,000 apartments, about 30 self-storage facilities and other real estate valued at more than $5.2 billion. In December, Forbes estimated his net
worth at $2.9 billion. Carroll, 60, serves on multiple nonprofit and civic boards while enjoying racing Ferraris.


managing partner | Trinity Capital Partners

Collier has led the acquisition of about $2.3 billion  in assets in multiple markets. He joined Trinity Capital in 2008. Prior to joining his current team, the MIT and UNC Chapel Hill grad previously led acquisitions for Boston’s BayNorth Capital. He is an Urban Land Institute member.

Favorite family tradition: Gathering with extended family from Tennessee and Alabama to celebrate Thanksgiving and honor our grandparents, who instilled in us the family values that we all live by today. The real highlights are two competitions: an intense game of charades and a barbeque-rib cooking contest to honor my late grandfather, who always cooked ribs on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Concord, where I grew up.

Major inspiration: My father, Chuck. I’m grateful to learn life’s important lessons by his example, not just his words. His strong work ethic, empathy, and accountability can be seen every day in his commitment to his family and community.

Career highlight: Working with our team to acquire the Duke Realty suburban office portfolio. This set Trinity Capital on the path to where we are now, and opened the door for us to bring on my partner, Jeff Sheehan, a critical component of our success.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Meet and develop genuine relationships with the most active participants in the market. A keen understanding of the business along with strong relationships will set you up
for success.


senior vice president, national operations |
Balfour Beatty

This Kansas State University graduate is responsible for
all U.S. operations of the London-based contractor. The company has worked on office towers for SPX, MetLife, Bank of America and other N.C. employers and reported about $10 billion in revenue in 2022.


CEO | Bell Partners 

After seven years as the company’s president, Dunn
was named CEO of the Bell family-owned real estate company last year. She helps lead all aspects of the business, with a focus on transaction activity, capital raising and overall company strategy. She’s a University
of Michigan graduate.


managing principal | Cushman & Wakefield

Gray has had his post at the real estate services company since 2017 after joining the business five years earlier. He was president of the Charlotte Regional Commercial Board of REALTORS last year. The UNC Chapel Hill grad serves on Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s International Advisory Council. 

Favorite family tradition:  A trip to the beach with my entire family.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: I always have a soft spot for Chapel Hill and anywhere on the coast.

What do you listen to on your commute: Varies based on my mood but always some kind of music to get the day started.

Major inspiration: My grandfather. He taught me about hard work, investing and helping others

Career highlight: Being selected to my current role, expanding my coverage to include the majority of the Carolinas and significantly scaling our business.

Favorite hobby: Eating dinner with my family and playing a game together.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Find someone to be your mentor and educate yourself through courses and internal company offerings.

Key industry change in next five years: The implementation of more advanced technology to better inform our clients to quicker and more data rich solutions.


CEO, chair | Grubb Properties 

The Tulane University and UNC School of Law graduate took over the family business 30 years ago, leading the company’s overall strategic vision. Grubb Properties was founded by Grubb’s father more than 50 years ago and now focuses on multi-family housing and commercial properties. His book, “Creating the Urban Dream” analyzes affordable-housing solutions.


principal owner, president |
Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks, Realtors

The Alabama native was named president in 1999, after joining the company 12 years earlier. Charlotte-based Allen Tate, which operates about 70 offices, acquired Beverly-Hanks last year. The Appalachian State grad speaks at real estate conferences and participates in real estate forums and CEO groups. 

Favorite family tradition: Breakfast with my kids on their birthdays. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: North Mills River. 

What do you listen to on your commute: News radio. 

Major inspiration: My wife demonstrates daily what it looks like to live with a servant’s heart.

Career highlight: Building a team of people I admire
and respect. 

Favorite hobby: Get outside. I am an avid outdoorsman and enjoy hunting, fishing, skiing, shooting and most anything outdoors. 

Best advice for industry newcomers:
Never stop learning.


president | Lincoln Harris 

Harris took over as president of the company in 2015 after serving as chief operating officer and working for Fortress Investment Group. His father, Johnny, chairs
the Lincoln Harris partnership with Dallas-based Lincoln Property Group. It has developed the Legacy Union complex in downtown Charlotte that includes
Honeywell’s headquarters.


founder, managing partner | Empire Properties

The N.C. State University graduate has led the company to own 70 plus buildings with more than 1 million square feet of office and retail space in downtown Durham and Raleigh. Hatem’s efforts to revitalize downtown Raleigh have received national recognition. He also founded the Empire Eats restaurant group. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Fort Macon. I have been going there since I was 2 years old. It’s amazing how it is still as captivating as it ever was. It’s just gotten better through the years. I love that we’ve been taking our children there since they were babies and I hope they will do the same.

What do you listen to on your commute:
Birds. I usually walk to work.

Major inspiration: My family. Remembering how hard our family had to work as immigrants in the early 1900s. I even remember my grandparents and parents talking about life during the last pandemic, The Great Depression, and world wars. It gives me confidence that we can adapt to the future and even influence it. I’m excited to see how our children make a difference.

Top career highlight: Our next project, The Orson.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Work hard and give back to your community. No matter where you are in life, you can make things better for someone else.


chairman, CEO | T.A. Loving Company

A Virginia Tech graduate, Hunter became CEO of the contracting company in 1990 and chair in 2014. He’s a staunch advocate of the construction industry, having previously been president of both Carolinas AGC and
AGC of America.


senior vice president, civils southeast region | Balfour Beatty 

The Oregon State University graduate joined Balfour Beatty in 1998 after several years of experience at other construction and development companies in Oregon.
He’s been a key player in securing the $242 million design build contract from the N.C. Department of Transportation to update Interstate U.S. 70 in Craven County.


CEO | Coldwell Banker Howard Perry Walston

Jones, 63, has more than 30 years of experience with
the agency, starting in the company’s accounting department in 1987. He took his current role in 2019.
The Wake Forest University graduate also serves on the HPW Foundation, which provides financial support to the company’s agents’ and employees’ charitable giving
and outreach efforts.


CEO | Kane Realty

The Wake Forest University graduate started his company in 1978 and has become Raleigh’s best-known developer with his North Hills and Downtown South projects. Earlier this year, he withdrew a request for a zoning change that would have allowed for towers of more than 37 stories.


president, CEO | The Keith Corp.

With more than 40 years of real estate experience, Keith has helped develop 450-plus projects totaling more than $4.5 billion and 50 million square feet. He founded his business with his father, Graeme, in 1989. It is working with JLL on a 104-acre project at Research Triangle Park.


senior managing partner | Childress Klein 

This Navy veteran formed his real estate business in 1988 with Atlanta’s Don Childress. Since then, it’s grown to more than 250 employees and has developed over 450 projects, including several large Charlotte towers. The newest one, 40-story Duke Energy Plaza, houses the utility’s headquarters.


CEO, president | Highwoods Properties

A University of Georgia graduate, Klinck, 57, assumed his role in 2018 after joining the publicly traded REIT in 2012. During the past decade, he has overseen the closing of more than $15 billion of transactions. He is the chair of the First Tee of the Triangle and a member of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce board.

Favorite family tradition: Spending summers at the lake boating, wake surfing and relaxing.  We have been going to Lake Oconee in Georgia for about 20 years and have made a lot of family memories there.

What do you listen to on your commute: CNBC during the morning commute and country music (The Highway) on my way home.

Career highlight: Becoming CEO of Highwoods. I became CEO six months before the pandemic began
and while it has been a challenging time, our team and company became stronger and more resilient.  

Best advice for industry newcomers: Do something you enjoy and make you happy. Work hard and have a great attitude.  These are two things that are within your control. Focus on building relationships. Real estate is a relationship business. 

Key industry change in next five years: The pandemic changed the way office space will be used in the future.  While almost all companies believe being together in the office is critical to their success, flexible working arrangements and space utilization will continue to evolve over the next several years.


CEO | Frank L. Blum Construction 

The Lexington native joined the construction company in 2003 after earning a degree in construction engineering and management from N.C. State University. He became CEO in 2018. Last August, the 100-year-old company, which has grown rapidly in recent years, announced a $3.8 million expansion of its Winston-Salem headquarters.

Favorite family tradition: Candlelight Christmas Service

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Mountains

What do you listen to on your commute: On most days my commute is only 15 minutes  – one of the great quality of life things about living in Triad. But lately, Chris Stapleton has been on my playlist.

Major inspiration: My parents. They always kept life simple and modeled love, kindness, faithfulness, and humility.

Career highlight: Everyday is a new highlight. It’s never as good as it is right now. I do like to celebrate the successes of the past and there are lots of highlights. Most of my personal ones are not a singular moment, but more a reflection on the journey and the teamwork along the way.

Favorite hobby after work: I have three young kids so most days after work center around them, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of watching them get joy out of playing a sport, learning an instrument, or being in the school play. Aside from that, I like playing racquet sports with my wife.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Outwork the next person and over-prepare for the task at hand.

Key industry change in next five years: There has been a labor shortage in construction for decades. In the next five years, we will see big steps in prefabrication to alleviate the labor shortage.


managing partner | Beacon Partners

Lash co-founded Beacon Partners in 1989 alongside Ed Weisiger, and has since helped grow the business to 30.4 million square feet of space developed and acquired. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy.


CEO | The Spectrum Cos.

McClure, 42, has led the company since 2017, implementing strategy, overseeing operations and guiding team leaders. The graduate of Wake Forest and Duke universities is president of the Charlotte chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and a past president of the N.C. Board of Architecture. 

Favorite family tradition: Spending Thanksgiving with my family at the beach every year.

What do you listen to on your commute: Audiobooks 

Career highlight: Developing Vantage, our 633,000-square-foot mixed-use project in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte. 

Favorite hobby: My favorite hobby is exercising and challenging myself to stay healthy.


CEO | McFarland Construction 

McFarland has more than 20 years experience in business, planning and project management. The Indiana University MBA graduate started his business in 2010. He’s been involved with the Charlotte Arts and Science Council, National Black MBA Association and Leadership Charlotte.

Favorite family tradition: Traveling with family. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Pinehurst. 

What do you listen to on your commute: Hip-hop 

Major inspiration: Family because of the history, possibilities and legacy. 

Career highlight: Seeing my daughter work at
McFarland Construction.  

Favorite hobby: Golf. 

Best advice for industry newcomers: Your name
is your most important asset. Protect it with everything you have. 

Key industry change in next five years: The labor/talent constraints will require further diversification of the industry’s candidate pool.


executive vice president |
N.C. Home Builders Association

Minton, 58, has held his current role since 2021. He oversees legislative programs and advocacy. The Elon University and UNC Chapel Hill grad previously served as the assistant executive vice president. 

Favorite family tradition: Prime rib at Christmas. 

What do you listen to on your commute: Sports

Major inspiration: Many people including Freddie Bazen Sr., Jim Bichsel, Jack Hawke and Mike Carpenter.  They all taught me the value of working hard and being the best at what you do. 

Career highlight: Helping others including
1) Founder of Operation Coming Home that builds houses for injured combat veterans and 2) Annual scholarships in the total amount of $300,000 for Beyond Academics and other like programs which is two- or four-year university level program for young adults with special needs and finally 3) Be Pro Be Proud – two semi-tractor trailers with virtual reality and simulators that participate with middle and high schools to educate them about the trades.

Favorite hobby: Collecting old comics. 

Best advice for industry newcomers:
Always do your best.


Carolinas market director,
Charlotte brokerage lead | JLL

Monroe was a founding member of Keystone Partners, which was acquired by JLL in 2011. He oversees JLL’s Carolinas business and works on office transactions related to tenant representation, strategic initiatives, acquisition and disposition. He’s a University of
Virginia graduate.


managing director | CBRE

Newman, 62, oversees the company’s service offerings with a focus on integrating departments to ensure comprehensive real estate solutions are provided. The Charlotte native has almost 30 years of industry experience and has placed more than $3.5 billion in real estate capital during that time. He was previously a naval aviator flying P-3C Orions. 

What do you listen to on your commute:
Goose and Yes 

Career highlight: Working with nonprofits who serve our community. 

Key industry change in next five years: Workplace will be a hybrid of home/office environment and workers/ employers will move toward smarter mobility options.


general manager, executive vice president | Skanska USA Building 

Peele, 57, joined the Sweden-based contractor in 2000 and now leads the North Carolina and Virginia regions. He has a bachelor’s from N.C. State University and an MBA from UNC Greensboro. In fall 2022 the company completed a science building expansion and renovation
at Western Carolina University. 

Favorite family tradition: We have a long-running tradition of the entire family converging on the Outer Banks for the week of Thanksgiving.  It is a great opportunity to catch up with extended family, cook great meals and laugh a lot!

Favorite N.C. place to visit: This one is a toss up between the beach and the mountains.  We take a vacation to both each year as they are ideal for getting our fix of the great outdoors. 

What do you listen to on your commute:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame channel is usually on during my commute.

Major inspiration: Too many but they all revolve around seeing a vision, believing in that vision and working hard to accomplish that vision.

Career highlight: Being named executive vice president of Skanska and running both the North Carolina and Virginia regions. It has allowed me to do two of the
things I love and that is strategy and growing our people. We have worked hard to make our region the second largest in all of Skanska U.S. Building – and had fun
along the journey. 

Favorite hobby: Anything outdoors — golf, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, etc.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Be honest, work hard and respect others. 

Key industry change in next five years:
The continued increase in technology and data. We are just scratching the surface on how powerful these tools are in creating a safer, more efficient process from inception, design and construction.


chairman, president, CEO |
Gregory Poole Equipment 

This family-owned Caterpillar franchise has grown from 40 people in Raleigh to 1,250 employees across five states. Poole purchased the company from his father in 1999 to become the third Poole generation to run it.


president, CEO | Southern Industrial Contractors 

Portman is responsible for the company’s range of industrial construction services. He is a Boise State University alumnus and Army veteran. Norwalk, Connecticut-based Emcor Group bought Southern Industrial in 2011.


president, CEO | Coldwell Banker Advantage 

The Raleigh native and East Carolina University graduate started his business in 1995 with nine agents and has built it into one of the region’s biggest agencies with 1,700 agents and 55 offices across the Carolinas.


president, CEO | Northwood Ravin

Ravin formed his business in 2011 with New York-based Northwood Investors and now leads more than 400 employees and oversees development projects across the southeast and southwest. The architectural graduate of UNC Charlotte and the University of Michigan has developed more than 75 multi-family communities with a market value exceeding $6 billion.


president, CEO | Allen Tate

Riley has been in his current role since 1992. In 2020, the company had more than $6.15 billion in transactions through 70 offices. It partners with Pittsburgh-based Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the largest privately held U.S. retail real estate broker. Riley has raised more than $5.5 million for the Tate Cares philanthropy
over two decades.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Highlands/Cashiers. 

What do you listen to on your commute: I love Kenny Chesney.

Career highlight: Bringing together so many North and South Carolina family-owned real estate businesses under one roof.

Favorite hobby: Walking, boating, and playing tennis. At the end of the day, it’s relaxing to sit and enjoy a view from the porch.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Be the most knowledgeable Realtor in your particular market. Stay active with clients throughout the 10-year homeownership journey between the purchase and the sale of their home with annual insurance reviews, market trends, and decorating and remodeling advice to help their home retain maximum value.

Key industry change in next five years: The next five years will see normalization for residential real estate. We will get back to interest rates in the 6-8% range, with annual appreciation of 3-5%. The Carolinas will always perform better than most markets because of in-migration of business and individuals.


president, CEO | Rodgers Builders

Rodgers Builders was formed by Rodgers’ late husband in 1963. She started as an administrative assistant before working her way up to president and CEO in 1987 after obtaining her general contractor’s license. She’s been among Charlotte’s major civic leaders for decades. 


president, CEO | Shelco

This N.C. State University graduate has been CEO of the contractor company since 2000. He’s managed more than 6.5 million square feet of construction and oversees the Shelco’s three offices in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh. He’s an advisory board member of the UNC Charlotte Center for Real Estate.


chair, CEO | Samet Corp.

Since Samet took control of the family-owned business in 2000, he’s become one of the most well-known CEOs in the Triad and expanded aggressively across the state. Samet is a University of Georgia graduate with a UNC Chapel Hill MBA.


CEO | TRI Properties 

The UNC Chapel Hill graduate and world-class master’s-level swimmer has helped develop more than 5 million square feet of Triangle office, lab/R&D, industrial and retail space while leading the business since 1994. In 2021, NAI Carolantic Realty and TRI Properties merged after a couple years of discussion.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: UNC’s Dean Dome. 

Career highlight: The 4.7 million-square-foot development of Imperial Center, one of the largest mixed-use business parks in the Southeast.


president, CEO | Carolinas AGC

The former journalist has been with the trade association for more than 30 years and has served as president since 2014. He’s a University of Missouri graduate who has received the James J. Lowry Award for Outstanding CEO from the Association Executives of North Carolina. 

Favorite family tradition: Eating meals together. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: The beach. 

What do you listen to on your commute: The phone, tunes, news, business, talk shows and sports.

Major inspiration: My wife, Denise, is my better half for good reason.

Favorite hobby: Wordle, crossword puzzles, guitar, music and sports. 

Best advice for industry newcomers: “When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking about what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe.”  – Ernest Hemingway 

Key industry change in next five years: Getting young leaders into the construction industry who are good and want challenging and rewarding careers.


owner | Preston Development

Smith, 74, and his co-owner Bubba Rawl are veteran N.C. developers now focused on the massive Chatham Park project near Pittsboro. Previous projects include The Arboretum at Weston in Cary. He grew up in Salisbury, where his father, Wilson, was a co-founder of Food Lion.

Favorite family tradition: Christmas Eve church 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Figure Eight Island 

What do you listen to on your commute: Talk radio 


principal | Taft Family Ventures

Taft oversees the five divisions that make up the
family-owned and operated business and assists in
the negotiation of all financial transactions. His father
is the chairman and CEO of the company. Recent plans underway include an affordable housing development
in Greenville. 


managing partner | Front Street Capital 

The Lexington native is a Wake Forest University
graduate who has acquired more than $850 million in income-producing assets and holds a current portfolio
of active ownership and/or management of over $450 million in assets. Most of its projects have occurred
across the Triad.


co-owner, CEO | Vannoy Construction

The East Carolina University grad became president in 1976 and CEO in 1985, succeeding his father. He and
his brother, Mark, have built one of the state’s biggest contractors. He got national attention for auctioning
off his huge collection of muscle cars and memorabilia
in 2020.

Favorite family tradition: Family trips and Christmas holidays. Spending the day with family and eating a
big meal together is something to look forward to.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: The mountains and Southport for the beach.

What do you listen to on your commute:
Willie’s Roadhouse. 

Major inspiration: My father, James R. Vannoy, because he taught me a lot in life about right from wrong. He taught me that respect must be earned.

Career highlight: My father started our company building a few single-family homes a year, and it has been a highlight that my brother Mark and I, along with my father, grew the company into a large firm. All of this happened only by having good people.

Favorite hobby after work: Collecting cars

Best advice for industry newcomers: Treat people like you want to be treated. Moving up in the ranks takes time and hard work.

Key industry change in next five years: Aging out of the baby boomers, and the wealth of knowledge that will disappear as this age group retires.



Weisiger has been president of the owner of Charlotte’s Caterpillar dealership since 1991, succeeding his father. He’s diversified the company into other businesses and been a major real estate investor. The Harvard University and N.C. State University grad is an elder at Myers Park Presbyterian Church and a director of the Charlotte
Sports Foundation.

Favorite family tradition: Bringing extended family together for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Asheville, Cashiers, Smoky Mountains, Linville/Grandfather, Roaring Gap.

What do you listen to on your commute: NPR, occasionally a podcast or a business related book.

Major inspiration: My father – who I am comes from observing who he is and what he did. My high school teacher Richard MacKenzie told me I needed to focus on some personal traits. I paid attention. He started me on my path to personal growth.

Favorite hobby after work: A hike, a bike ride or golf.

Best advice to industry newcomer: If you don’t understand the customer’s needs and expectations, you will never be truly successful.

Key industry change in next five years: Electrification.


managing director | Hines

Zarian came to North Carolina to lead the development
of the Houston-based development company’s Fenton project in Cary. He became a managing director last year. The University of Pennsylvania and Duke University grad was previously the director and has been with the company for about seven years.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Highlands, with Topsail Beach a close runner-up.

Career highlight: Watching thousands of people enjoy the first Christmas Tree Lighting at Fenton. After working on the project for years, it was gratifying to see the community embrace it.  

Favorite hobby after work: We have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, so when I’m not working, I try to spend as much time with them as possible.

Best advice for industry newcomers: Gerald Hines once told me, “Ask a lot of questions, no matter how dumb you think they make you sound.” I might have mastered the latter part of that statement. But it’s
great advice because that’s how you learn, and the amount of knowledge you gain will allow you to make
a greater impact.

Key industry change in next five years: The real estate industry is becoming more consumer-focused. Utilitarian places “to do something” are being replaced by aspirational places “that give something.” In the office world, that involves amenities, programming, and environments that are healthier and more sustainable. 

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