- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

Don Peebles, author, political enthusiast and owner of the Peebles Corp., the largest black-owned real estate development company in the country, challenges his readers to realize that anything is possible.

“We live in a great country full of tremendous opportunities,” Mr. Peebles said. “There are no limitations.”

“He’s a great Washington, D.C., success story,” said Mark Ein, chief executive officer of Venturehouse Group. “He became a true Renaissance man on his own, and I think the best is still yet to come [for him].”

A native of the District, Mr. Peebles was raised by a single mother who worked on her own as a real estate broker and appraiser and also served as a mortgage analyst for Fannie Mae.

“Growing up in D.C. was a great opportunity to develop a great world view and outlook,” Mr. Peebles said. “I watched the city develop under construction right from my window. It was a tremendous time to grow up there.”

During his high school years in the 1970s, Mr. Peebles attended the United States Capitol Page School. While on Capitol Hill, he served as a page, a legislative intern and a staff aid. When Mr. Peebles enrolled at Rutgers University, his initial plans were to become a doctor. Those plans changed at the end of his freshman year when he realized his calling was in real estate.

“Because of my mother’s work, I had a knowledge of the business,” Mr. Peebles said. “She really encouraged me to think like an entrepreneur, and I read about real estate as a teenager.”

Mr. Peebles left Rutgers University in 1979. Four years later, at age 23, he founded RDP Corp., which functioned as a residential and commercial real estate appraisal firm.

In 1984, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry appointed Mr. Peebles as chairman to Washington’s Board of Equalization and Review, a real estate tax appeals board that is now known as the Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals. He served on the board for four years. When Mr. Barry was in campaign debt from his re-election, Mr. Peebles paid the difference, hosting a breakfast that raised $100,000.

After his resignation from the Board of Equalization and Review, Mr. Peebles opened Appeals Services Inc., a District-based commercial tax assessment appeals firm. Within three years, his business flourished, having the highest rate of successful appeals. It was also the District’s second largest appeals firm of its kind.

Throughout the 1990s, Mr. Peebles’ interests continued to grow. In 1996, he opened a Miami office of his company. The subsequent year, he renamed the company Peebles Atlantic Development Corp., which by that point had acquired or developed more than 1 million square feet of commercial space. In 1998, Mr. Peebles moved his headquarters to Miami Beach, Fla.

By 2005, his company had added an international focus to the company’s real estate ventures. To reflect this change, Mr. Peebles again renamed the company, which has since been known as the Peebles Corp.

In 2007, Mr. Peebles published his first book, “The Peebles Principles: Tales and Tactics from an Entrepreneur’s Life of Winning Deals, Succeeding in Business, and Creating a Fortune from Scratch.”Mr. Peebles shares the lessons he learned as he gained wealth and personal success. He also published, in 2008, “The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth: How to Make Money in Any Market,” in which he reveals the tools used in real estate investing, as well as how to be lucrative in any economic situation.

Reflecting on his nearly 30 years of success, Mr. Peebles said he wants Americans to know that anyone, regardless of his or her background, can be just as successful.

“The best way to prove your case is by example,” Mr. Peebles said. “I wasn’t off the fast track to becoming an entrepreneur. My grandfather worked at a Marriott hotel for 40 years, and today I own a Marriott [hotel].”

Mr. Peebles is a firm believer in the value of entrepreneurship. He travels the country as a speaker and mentor, encouraging students to pursue business careers. He has won several awards for his community service involvement and leadership, and has received several accolades for his development abilities.

“He’s a great guy and a great businessman and is still young with a lot to offer,” said Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television. “In times of economic hardship, he’s still willing to take risks.”

Mr. Peebles lives in Miami with his wife, Katrina, and their two children.

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