Benjamin Nichols (2009)

Sales associate
Nichols & Associates Real Estate
12430 Tesson Ferry Road
St. Louis, MO 63128
United States
Missouri US

Career shift: Nichols found his calling in real estate after a career in journalism that including editing an automotive magazine. (He also owned an auto-parts distribution warehouse.) He entered real estate two years ago and decided to focus on bank-owned properties, a large portion of business in his market. This year he expects to close 250 transactions, up from 100 in 2008.

Passion for preservation: Nichols is enthusiastic about home renovation and architectural preservation, which prompted him to organize Saturday workshops to help new home owners learn everything from changing light fixtures to laying tile. He holds the sessions at his home, which he is rehabbing.

History buff: Nichols has made a name for himself as the go-to guy for information on local historic districts. "It really keeps the conversation flowing with clients. I live and breathe this stuff," he says.