A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:


Title: President

Age: 51

Frances Odenthal is working to attract newcomers to the field of real estate appraisal as president of the North Star chapter of the Appraisal Institute, the global professional association for appraisers.

Odenthal said a primary goal of her yearlong term, which began in January, is to explain the benefits of a career as an appraiser and membership in the institute to students majoring in business and real estate. She said she planned to visit as many colleges and universities as possible in the chapter's territory, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, parts of South Dakota and Wisconsin and Manitoba.

"It's a really dynamic career," Odenthal said. "I've been in government work as well as small firms, large firms, lending and litigation. Depending on skills and interests, people can choose totally different career paths."

Odenthal, who has three decades of experience as a commercial appraiser, has a bachelor's degree in real estate from St. Cloud State University, which has the only accredited real estate major in Minnesota. She was a business major there when Steven P. Mooney, a St. Cloud State professor, persuaded her to go into the real estate program.

All states require appraisers to be licensed or certified to do appraisals for federally regulated lenders, Odenthal said. Those who become designated appraisers of the institute have had to meet educational and experience requirements, submit written reports and pass an exam. The North Star chapter has 400 members, including candidates and designated members.

Odenthal is director of the local office of Wells Fargo's Real Estate Technical Services group.

Q: What has appealed to you about your work as an appraiser?

A: It's a big puzzle with a lot of information. It's the appraiser's job to sift through and analyze what's pertinent and what's most applicable and come to their conclusion of the value and that always intrigued me. Every deal is a new deal.

Q: Were there many women when you were starting out in the field?

A: There was one other woman and myself in the program when I graduated. At my first Appraisal Institute chapter meeting, it was a room full of gentlemen and two designated female appraisers. It was rather intimidating. But the numbers have changed for the better for the industry as well as for the individuals pursuing the profession.

Q: How busy are appraisers now in your chapter's territory?

A: In general the market is positive. By and large we're seeing improvement in virtually all areas over 2008. The good new now is we're seeing construction start again. We've absorbed the vacant space and there is now demand for additional development.

Todd Nelson