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ARCHIVED  January 1, 1997

Wheeler’s Jorgensen excels at development, home sales

FORT COLLINS — While Charlotte Jorgensen’s parents run a bed and breakfast for bovines at their Lincoln, Kan., farm, Jorgensen oversees major residential projects for a real estate company in Fort Collins.

It’s a clear case of the offspring going off in a completely different direction, but for Jorgensen — who isn’t interested in small towns or farming — it couldn’t have been any other way.

Before retiring, Rex and Vera were wheat farmers for enough years to convince their daughter it wasn’t what she was going to do with her life. Now that they care for others’ cattle on their own land, Jorgensen’s wish is that her parents enjoy their lives and that when they die, they do it with only enough money to bury themselves.

She wants them to spend their money to enjoy their lives, and she doesn’t want to go back to the farm, she said.

This kind of quirky humor mixed with ambition peppers Jorgensen’s speech. Sheryl Cost, who has worked with Jorgensen for seven years at Wheeler Realty Better Homes and Gardens, said she is “demanding of herself and so demands a lot of others. She’s action-oriented.”

The project manager for Wheeler Realty, Jorgensen, 49, said she just wants to ski, to golf, to crack jokes – “I can’t wait to get to be 50,” she said. “Then I’ll get all the discounts,” — and to get buyers into the home of their dreams.

Jorgensen is exceptional at all of these, say friends and colleagues with whom Jorgensen has skied for 30 years. She takes top places in national and state women’s golf tournaments, and Wheeler Realty Better Homes and Gardens is within the top five in residential sales in Fort Collins.

Jorgensen helped to put them there, said long-time business partner and friend Bill Neal.

Jorgensen carries the distinction of being the first and only woman in Northern Colorado developing major projects, Neal said. Prior to that, she was the top producer at Wheeler Realtv in new-home sales.

“I’d not seen anyone better at selling new homes,” Neal said.

Jorgensen has worked for Wheeler Realty for 17 years. She began to concentrate on the technically oriented, male-dominated field of land development with Neal as her partner in 1991, Neal said.

Under the umbrella of Kingston Associates, Neal and Jorgensen completed the Kingston Wood development. Kingston’s second project is Fairbrooke, a 70-lot single-family project at Prospect Road and Cedar Wood Street currently under construction. Neal said land development is a tough business for everyone – and not just because of the expense. It’s high-risk because of all the variables, fire access, storm drainage, neighborhood opposition, expansive soils and government regulations concerning chemical fertilizers contaminating the potential development site.

But Jorgensen has always been a person to figure out one game and move on to the next. In the ’70s coaching a winning girl’s basketball team in Wray, Jorgensen became a local legend. She coached the team to the first four state championships held for girls in Colorado in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979, leaving after the fourth victory because her fame was too big and the town was too small.

The idea of sticking around for a fifth win left Jorgensen cold.

“It’s like eating four banana splits,” she said. “You can’t eat another. You feel like throwing up. I couldn’t even go out for a drink without someone giving advice on plays.”

Fort Collins Wheeler Realty Better Homes and Gardens happened upon Jorgensen in her post coaching years. Although she wasn’t interested in coaching or working in the school system at the time, Jorgensen moved from Wray to Fort Collins in May 1979 and finished her master’s degree in education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Jorgensen interviewed at Wheeler in November 1979. Rex Hallock, the broker, was a bit of a good old boy, she said. He liked to tell people that you train a bird dog by twisting their ears. Training real estate people wasn’t any different.

During Jorgensen’s interview with Hallock, “He reached across the desk and grabbed my ears,” she said. “He said, ‘Young lady, I’m going to teach you to hunt.'”

Jorgensen describes her career, when she’s being funny, as that of a “Jack of all trades” and “master of all.” What she does is actually three jobs. The first is day-to-day operations for Kingston Associates, the limited liability company under which Fairbrooke is being developed. The second is construction coordinator for Bronsert Homes. Her third job is assisting with sales of Bronsert Homes.

Although she’s not in the sales end of things much any more, Jorgensen said, one of the more rewarding parts of her job is helping people select a home and working out little details that are important to them.

She calms anxious buyers with her sense of humor. Recently, while talking to a buyer who reminded her repeatedly that he wanted to know about some detail of his house, Jorgensen replied, “I know, Doug. And God knows too.”

Neal appreciates Jorgensen’s sense of humor, “She’s a hoot. And she’s very competitive,” he said. Out on the links, “it would take me five years to catch up. I can’t beat her right now.”

FORT COLLINS — While Charlotte Jorgensen’s parents run a bed and breakfast for bovines at their Lincoln, Kan., farm, Jorgensen oversees major residential projects for a real estate company in Fort Collins.

It’s a clear case of the offspring going off in a completely different direction, but for Jorgensen — who isn’t interested in small towns or farming — it couldn’t have been any other way.

Before retiring, Rex and Vera were wheat farmers for enough years to convince their daughter it wasn’t what she was going to do with her life. Now that they care for others’ cattle on their own…

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