WHY HE'S A TOP 40: He's a driven local lawyer who took an unlikely day job to build entire neighbourhoods in Edmonton: "It was like jumping into the deep end and hoping you could swim, but I knew that I could swim."
KEY TO HIS SUCCESS: Confidence: "Basically, I'm rather bright."
You don't often hear a kid say he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up, but David Benjestorf is no ordinary legal eagle.
The 39-year-old general manager and chief legal counsel of the Alldritt group of companies recalls his first "case" — defending a toothless old bottle picker from the relentless teasing of neighbourhood boys. Young David learned that "sometimes people are put into positions not by choice, and it's what you do with the hand you've been dealt that's important."
The lesson hit home again in college. While studying finance and playing football at Minot State University in North Dakota, he arranged a two-year diploma program in Russian studies, which included a six-month stint at the Stavropol State University in Russia. He was there during the height of the Chechen War and witnessed suspected Chechen sympathizers getting shot in the street or "taken away." He was inspired by the way the local citizens rose above war atrocities.
After returning to Edmonton and graduating from the University of Alberta law school in 2000, he did five years of corporate law with McLennan Ross while running his own home-building company. He racked up a slew of community service awards in the process, including Edmonton Junior Chamber Member of the Year 2003, Outstanding Young Edmontonian Award 2004 andAlberta Venture's Leader of Tomorrow 2005.
Then came an unexpected call from the Alldritt group, a local land developer that has been building Edmonton neighbourhoods since the '40s. They wanted him as general manager and legal counsel.
Benjestorf's latest challenge is Alldritt's new Granville development in west Edmonton — 206 lots with everything, right down to the paint colours, designed by him. In May 2010, stage one of the development went on sale to builders, who bought 164 of the 206 lots in three hours for about $23.4 million.
Benjestorf also owns two other companies, Urban Cleaning Solutions and ThinkTank Advertising & Design, which specializes in mobile billboard advertising. He founded the U of A Golden Bearrister Alumni Scholarship to show gratitude for the five academic scholarships he received. He spends his spare time volunteering on the boards of Edmonton's Food Bank and Northern Alberta Junior Achievement. He has his purple belt in tae kwon do, he's learning to fly and he was awarded a knighthood under the Order of the Noble Companion of the Swan — a group dedicated to fostering traditional chivalry in the modern day.