ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STEVE
LEWIS is President of Wordman,
Inc., a marketing communications
firm based in Loudon, Tenn. He
has been representing real estate
clients and covering the commercial
real estate industry for more than
30 years, and he continues to write
freelance articles about the real
The SIOR Foundation is a 501 (c) ( 3) not-for-profit organization.
All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.
Promoting and supporting initiatives that educate, expand,
and enhance the commercial real estate community.
John Robbins, SIOR, FRICS
2014 Northern California
John Robbins, SIOR, FRICS
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Meanwhile, Hillis continues, he is seeing more interest in build
to suit opportunities because “We just can’t find a facility. I get
inquiries all the time – send me an inventory of existing 400,000
square foot facilities – and that’s easy; there aren’t any. We’re also
having problems with a dozen different distribution opportunities
talking about new products versus fitting new technology into an
CHANGING WITH THE TIMES
SIORs say they have adapted their strategies and also increased
their knowledge in several areas in order to reap the benefits of
these new opportunities. “I started getting involved in third-party
logistics back in the early 90s,” says Liebman. “I had to learn a
new language, but over the years it keeps on transitioning to a
higher efficiency. Now we have a whole new set of vocabulary to
learn, so we have to learn it to adapt to needs and requirements.”
“When we work with a manufacturing company, our first
question is, ‘Have you had your manufacturing process examined
to improve flow and productivity?’” says Robbins. “If the answer
is no, we insist on bringing an industrial engineering firm in to
make sure we are getting the correct building for their future.”
“You need to develop an understanding of the internal operations
of these buildings — not just bricks and mortar, not just square
feet and clear height,” adds Hillis. “You have to know if it has,
for example, added electrical capacity to handle the demand of
materials handling equipment. Is it located where employees can
get to it? Are there amenities for employees around the facility?
If a lot of people work there you need restaurants, dry cleaners,
etc., nearby. There are a whole bunch of nuances with these
Robbins cautions others to keep their expectations realistic when
it comes to predicting an immediate boom-let due to technology
and logistics. “From announcement until implementation,
technology takes time and capital,” he observes. “Look at the
personal computer; predictions were that it would revolutionize
the administrative world when it was introduced, but we are just
now seeing in the past decade the real impact on information and
middle management. Any change takes time. The predictors were
correct, but just not about when.”