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B'more's CRE pros weren't always so glamorous. Before they knew how to rock a title insurance policy or play lease limbo, the folks below had to start lower. Today we take a look at where they began.
Hotel Jerome
In 1990, this would have been Continental Realty CEO JM Schapiro. In college, he worked at Aspen's Hotel Jerome, one summer in the purchasing office and the next as a bellman. He says he learned teamwork (making sure the chef gets the fresh food he needs, for example—no one wants to face an angry Gordon Ramsay),reciprocity (tip well and you get better service), and relationships(get to know the bartenders and kitchen staff). JM still heads back to Aspen (summers are best, he says) and runs into his old bosses. His old GM, who has just returned to that post, tells him a $35M renovation will deliver Dec. 15.

Cole Schnorf
Manekin development director Cole Schnorf got his first taste of professional responsibility as a janitor's assistant at Camp Zama's US Army Hospital, 25 miles southwest of Tokyo, during Vietnam. His dad was a Lt. Colonel there, and Cole vacuumed, dusted, and mowed the grass around the officer's club. Back in Northern Virginia, he spent his summers doing construction work and then went into the Army himself for four years after college (he hasn't changed a bit). Life has become a bit more stable since then, as Cole celebrates his 26th year at Manekin.

Mustang II Ghia
Brown Craig Turner Architects principal Bryce Turner spent his junior and senior years of high school in Roanoke getting up when most kids go to sleep, sorting mail at the Post Office from 4:30 to 6:30am. Why on earth? The job paid $5/hour, big bucks in the '70s. He used the winnings to buy one of these babies, a Mustang II Ghia.
Bill Bonstra and Margaret McFarland Jan. 31, 2012
University of Maryland Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development's Margaret McFarland (with Bonstra | Haresign Architects' Bill Bonstra at a Bisnow event this year)—who's actually in Lima right now—started out on the cafeteria line at a summer camp and is trying to forget her current financial advisor's point that if she'd invested that first $300, she'd be a millionaire now. Her best friend Betty convinced her to take extra hours scrubbing the dining hall wooden floor on their hands and knees for extra cash. She doesn't remember what she spent that $300 on, but she remembers scrubbing on her hands and knees. (There's a life lesson buried in there somewhere.)
Richard Alter, April 24, 2012
Manekin CEO Richard Alter went from crab mallet to gavel to hammer. While a 15-year-old high school student at Baltimore City College, he was a crab cook at Mr. K's Crab House at Reisterstown Road and Belvedere Avenue. Like Cole, he also did a military stint. A law school grad, he also did welfare-eligibility screening for Maryland. His start in real estate: property management.
Jon Carpenter and Jay Wellschlager
Cassidy Turley's Jon Carpenter (right, with colleague Jay Wellschlager) tells us his first real estate gig was an analyst in Trammell Crow's DC investment sales group. The office was within walking distance of his Georgetown apartment, so he cold called the director at the office. It was a learn-on-the-job experience he says, considering his political science major at the liberal arts-focused Dickinson College.