James Cherney

Developer • Investor • Collaborator

Hands-on experience managing multiple lines of business and employees.



Jim Cherney’s career spans retail, real estate development, property management, self-storage and pizza. Lots of pizza.

Jim’s entrepreneurial trajectory began in his freshman year of college with the humble goal of supporting himself in school by selling advertising to local community businesses. His idea grew into a multi-campus operation, employing dozens of students.


Later, to put himself through grad school, Jim ran a modest pizza delivery business out of his garage. The rapid popularity of his pizza caught the eye of an astute professor at the University of Florida’s business school who made Jim a business proposition he couldn’t refuse. When he chose a career in business over science, a serial entrepreneur was born. The pizza business grew across three cities before he accepted a second business proposition to sell the company and see it eventually be folded into the Domino’s Pizza franchise.


After some research, Jim did it again, migrating north to Chapel Hill where he founded Pizza Transit Authority (PTA), while simultaneously laying the groundwork for what would become a real estate investment portfolio of 2,300 apartments in the region.


In empowering his PTA employees, he built the pizza business across 39 states with 172 well-established locations. After taking that company public, he eventually sold it to a franchise that was blended into Papa John’s Pizza during its national expansion.


Respected for his local success, Jim was recruited to share his knowledge with MBA students as an adjunct lecturer at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, teaching a course in New Venture Management and Entrepreneurship where he taught his personal key benchmarks to business success. Not surprisingly, he became his own best student as he refined his active passion for real estate development.


Launching his next venture, Jim devised an innovative approach to self-storage, creating the nation’s first-ever drive-thru self-storage facility, Fort Knox Storage. His company soon morphed across North Carolina, Maryland, DC and Virginia. Concurrently, he began to collaborate on revitalizing and managing various community real estate properties including multi-family housing.


In real estate development, Jim’s success has been founded on a history of collaboration, illustrating the value of making business decisions that benefit the local community as a whole. Jim has demonstrated that establishing healthy working relationships that enhance and improve the local community are good for the local economy, good for business partners and good for the bottom line.