Frank and Shapiro Real Estate, Inc.: The biggest little real estate company

Beside the Point

Frank and Shapiro Real Estate staff with portraits of their firm’s founders (left to right): partner Leonard Frank, partner Tom Doherty, Chris Doherty, Russell Skidmore, Janie Perkins and David Whitney. (Photo by Cathy Welch)

We are like a family here,” says Leonard Frank, owner and president of Frank and Shapiro (pronounced shuh-pie-roe) Real Estate Inc. The 10 employees have a combined total of 150 years of experience in the property management business. “We are the biggest little real estate company no one has ever heard of,” says Frank. The company does not have an operational website. “We are linked to all the major sites, such as Zillow. We’d be lost on our own,” Franks adds.

The company was founded in 1954 by Frank’s grandfather, Louis Frank, and uncle, Max Shapiro. The original office was in downtown Newport News. The founders built and moved into their current location in 1987. “I grew up in the business,” says Frank. “At the age of 12, I was helping with maintenance. There was always something I could do.” Frank graduated from Virginia Tech in 1983 with a degree in economics. “I was the only kid in the dorm getting the Wall Street Journal. I had been buying stocks since I was 13.” He was licensed as a real estate salesman in 1979 and as a broker in 1983.

Frank’s father, Jules, was killed in an automobile accident while Frank was still in school. His mother Norma, vice president, and Tom Doherty, principal broker, continued to run the business. Frank eventually joined the firm and his mother became president of the firm until her retirement in 2016.

Frank’s first big project was developing a subdivision of 100 houses called Menchville Meadows. “I participated in all phases, including selling the completed homes,” he adds.

The firm was involved in building, selling, renting, property management and insurance. The firm’s principals bought property (to build on) and managed and maintained single-family homes, apartments and commercial properties. Eventually they moved away from insurance. They earned a good reputation as landlords/property managers.

Frank was successful in property management and continued his professional education. He sought the Certified Property Management (CPM) designation, which required completing a series of advanced courses offered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). These courses were offered in Maryland, New York and Illinois. In 1992, he earned his designation and in 1995, he qualified as a Certified Ethics Instructor (CEI) for the Virginia Association of Realtors and taught courses in the later 1990s.

Frank has maintained his professional involvement through the years. He has been active in the Tidewater Chapter of IREM, receiving the Certified Property Manager (CPM) of the Year award in 1996. His other activities include membership on the Virginia Peninsula Association of Realtors Professional Standards and Grievance Committee and the Business and Industry Committee of the City of Newport News.

The company portfolio includes single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes and apartments. It also manages offices and retail businesses.

“I am not involved in home sales unless it is for a friend or a long-time client. Resale real estate involves weekend work. I like that property management is a 9-to-5 job with no weekend work. I might work overtime in a special situation but I have control over that,” says Frank.

Frank has three children. His wife Michelle is not in the real estate business. “I don’t take my work home,” says Frank. “There is no email on my phone.” His children so far have different interests and are not pursuing a career in real estate.

Frank is known as “Mr. Fix It” at home. “I do enjoy being a handyman,” he says. “I like to repair and repurpose furniture. I have also done minor repairs on some properties we manage when I discover them during a routine inspection. I have accumulated quite a tool collection.”

Known as a “broker’s broker,” Frank manages property for other REALTORS®. His company has acquired properties for companies leaving the business. “We have clients who have been with us for 30 years,” says Frank. Another client base is the military. “When someone in the military is transferred but hopes to return to the area, we can handle renting their home for them,” Frank says.

Janie Perkins is the office administrator of Frank and Shapiro . She serves as a manager or “catch all,” as she says. She has been with the company for nine years. “I love that it is a family organization,” she says. “My bosses are brilliant. They know their stuff.” Perkins was born in Florida, a military “brat.” She has lived in Hawaii and Germany, with retirement at Langley. “I’m a Virginian by choice,” she says with a smile.

Doherty has been with the company since its early days. Originally from Boston, he served in the USAF. He is Irish and is called “the tough guy” at the office. He still works full time. “I like coming to the office and handling complaints,” he says.

Frank enjoys visiting family. “Michelle would like to travel more,” he says. “Our last big trip was to Hawaii.” Other interests include biking, skiing and Virginia Tech football.

With no retirement plans at hand, Frank will continue enjoying his business.

Frank and Shapiro Real Estate, Inc.
Address: 525 Oyster Point Rd., Ste. B, Newport News VA 23602
Phone: 757-595-1122
Contact: Leonard Frank, owner, president

About Nancy P. Sykes 87 Articles
Nancy was a devoted writer and friend of Oyster Pointer for more than 25 years. She wrote more than 250 features during those years. She always said she met some fascinating people during her many interviews. Her sparkling personality and joyful conversations could be felt in her writing. Nancy will be greatly missed by all who knew her, especially her Oyster Pointer family.

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