In 1988, the founders of the corporation which would eventually become Lerato LLC  had the foresight to secure a pristine 1800-acre tree farm, with the vision that it would have a larger purpose in the future.  The future is now.

When Ben Marino and his investment partners John Chalsty and Doug Dittrick purchased an 1800-acre tree farm from International Paper in 1988, they had the vision that this land 10 miles outside of Charleston, SC would have a larger purpose someday in the future. That vision led to the formation of CDM LLC, a joint venture company created to develop the land into a mixed-use Master Planned Community now known as Carolina Park.

In 2011, CDM LLC Founding Member and Managing Partner Ben Marino passed away from leukemia, and his interest in the property was left to his family, Chalsty, and Dittrick. CDM LLC was transitioned into a new company that same year to manage and develop 180 acres of the original property. This new company was named Lerato, LLC.

Lerato means “love” in South African dialects. The name was chosen as the result of the partnership having deep roots in, and a strong connection to, South Africa.  Lerato's legacy partner John Chalsty made a considerable mark on the world of finance in the United States since leaving his hometown of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Equally impressive was the career trajectory of Ben Marino, who was a decorated war hero and U.S. patriot.  Ben loved the United States, but there was no place on earth he felt more at peace than being on safari in South Africa amongst the overwhelming beauty of the country's landscape.  South Africa is where he felt closest to God, and Lerato was named to honor Ben's lasting memory, legacy, and vision.

After Ben's death, his son Christopher was named the new Managing Partner of Lerato, LLC.  Chris is in charge of developing the remaining property and continuing his father's and CDM's vision of responsible land development for the benefit of future generations.