Kelly Doran’s name is all over town these days on apartment construction sites across the Twin Cities. Yet when he started Bloomington–based Doran Cos. in 2007, he’d never built a single unit of housing. Now he’s become one of the most prolific multifamily developers in the metro.

“I actually got into real estate by accident,” Doran says. After leaving the University of Minnesota with an MBA in 1982, he went to work for Bank of America in California and was later transferred back to his home state. A friend turned down a headhunter for the Vantage Cos., a Texas–based real estate developer, but referred him to Doran. He interviewed and got the job as a leasing agent for office and industrial space in 1986 and started to get involved with development projects.

Sometimes the deal that doesn’t work out turns out to be the best deal.