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Alumni Profile with George Kalnin '74

12/22/2004

An Unconventional Career Path
With Adventures Along the Way

In recalling favorite memories of his fraternity days, George Kalnin '74 mentions the great band parties on Saturday nights after home football games, and a particular "pledge raid."

"As a freshman, in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, my pledge brothers and I went to the house with ladders and removed all the furniture from the downstairs and stacked it all in the middle of the roof, without waking the brothers. Then we went back to our dorm," he says, laughing with the memory. "When the brothers came downstairs for breakfast, there was nothing to sit on."

 


Since then, George has gone from rambunctious freshman to mechanical engineer to corporate finance professional to lobbyist to commercial real estate professional to ambitious entrepreneur, with a stint at the Olympics thrown in along the way.

George, who lives in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, recounts the unconventional path his career has taken: "When I graduated from Tech with a mechanical engineering degree, I stayed in Atlanta and worked for Georgia Power Company in generating-plant engineering. While there, I went to Georgia State University in Atlanta for an MBA in finance. When I graduated in spring 1978 from Georgia State, I transferred to the corporate finance department at Georgia Power, where I mostly worked on regulatory issues in finance.

"About four years after that, I was asked to transfer to the governmental affairs department at Georgia Power, and I was part of the team of lobbyists at the Georgia State Capitol."

In 1985, he had been at Georgia Power for 11 years and felt it was time to move on and seek new challenges. "I went into the commercial real estate business," he says. "I started with First Fidelity Mortgage Corporation, which did commercial mortgage financing. In the early 1990s, I left and began working in commercial real estate appraisals."

Commercial real estate, he explains, includes properties such as office buildings, apartment complexes, shopping centers and hotels.

In 1996, George made an unusual decision. He left his job in the appraisal business and, for six weeks, volunteered full time for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), just prior to and during the time that the Olympics were in Atlanta.

"I was the envoy for Latvia," he says. It was the first time the envoy concept had been implemented at the Olympics. As envoy, his mission was to help the Latvian team with logistics and protocol. He trained for two years for the task, taking classes at night.

"There were 198 countries, and 198 envoys," he explains. "Depending on the size of the delegation from each country, each envoy had one or more associate envoys. The Latvian team contingent — including athletes, coaches, and team doctors — was more than 80 people. I had four associate envoys and four drivers. We were the liaisons between the team from Latvia and ACOG."

Of course, as a volunteer, George received no pay. He served as an envoy because he wanted to do it. "I had planned to quit the appraisal business anyway," he says. "I just timed that with the Olympics."

Afterward, he went back to work in commercial real estate, as an agent this time, with Richard Bowers & Company in Atlanta. After a few years, he went to work with HealthAmerica Realty Group, a specialty commercial real estate company dealing solely with medical office buildings.

His next career move, in February 2002, was to start his own company as a commercial real estate broker — Precision Associates, LLC. In this capacity, he was recently involved in purchasing a 20-year-old office complex with seven buildings, near Atlanta. The complex is owned by a special-purpose legal entity formed between his company and a realty company in Baltimore.

"Last year we did an extensive renovation of the buildings, including new roofs and new exteriors," George says. He is now seeking tenants to fill the renovated space, and for more properties to purchase.

"As a commercial real estate broker, I work on a lot of other projects, too," he adds. "It's general brokerage work."

George was married for the second time in December 2002. His wife, Kathy, has a daughter and George has a son. Both children are seniors in high school.

George treasures his memories of Zeta Beta Tau at Georgia Tech and, in the years since graduation, has helped out the chapter more than once. As an undergraduate, he played on the chapter's winning intramural football team. Shortly after graduation, he coached the team to another IM football championship.

In the early 1980s, he was involved in reactivating the alumni board of trustees for the house. He says he was the "point person" in getting it reorganized and served as the executive trustee.

George originally joined Zeta Beta Tau due to the outstanding rush efforts of a particular brother. "Steve Seiavitch '73 was the rush chairman, and he did such a good job of setting up dates for the rushes, and I thought that was wonderful," George says. "He made it his job to see that all the rushes had dates for functions. He had a system all organized. That was pretty impressive to a freshman."

George lived in the house for three years, rooming with Tom Sanders '74, Robert Sinsheimer '75 and Hudson Smith '76. He served as pledge master for a year.

Regarding what he learned from life in the chapter house, he says, "It was the first time I basically had to commit myself to working with a group of people I wasn't related to, and didn't really know, in order to accomplish things in a meaningful way."

He remains in touch with several of his brothers. "There's a fairly sizeable group of brothers in the Atlanta area that I still see on a regular basis, six or eight of them," he says.

When asked what he would like the current undergraduate members to achieve, he says, "I would like to see them continue to bring in new members over the next couple of years in great enough numbers to fill the house, and to enjoy all the aspects of fraternity life that I enjoyed as an undergraduate."

George's career goals for the future are to continue to grow his business and to accumulate a portfolio of investment properties for his company to manage. In his leisure time, he likes snow skiing, watching sports (particularly Georgia Tech sporting events) and an occasional round of golf.

 

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