In a Period of Rapid Change: A NAIOP Chairman Retrospective
Throughout 50 years of up and down cycles, the commercial real estate industry has evolved from individual or family-run local development companies to strong regional, and even international, publicly traded companies. The latter is the perspective that Gene Reilly brought to NAIOP during his 2013 chairmanship. Reilly, CEO of the Americas for Prologis (NYSE:PLD), oversees all aspects of business performance in Prologis’ operations in the United State, Canada and Latin America.
As of December 31, 2016, the San Francisco-based company owned or had investment in approximately 676 million square feet in 20 countries, with a focus on modern logistics facilities.
Becoming NAIOP chair in 2013 allowed Reilly to combine his leadership experience at the NAIOP Massachusetts chapter with the challenges of running a national organization, comprising a strong network of local chapters. He brought a corporate worldview to a dispersed NAIOP organization, and focused on using technology to improve “communications to chapters, and from chapter leaders who come to board meetings, bringing the information back to their chapters.”
As he told GlobeSt.com in March 2013, “Our membership uses technology in very different ways than it did just five years ago. We communicate differently, and at the same time, we are overscheduled and time constrained.”
Reilly also points to NAIOP’s launch of online courses, as a cost-effective way to deliver education to members, keeping them ahead of the curve without requiring them to travel.
“Our business is in a constant state of change, and the rate of change is accelerating. Relevant research and education are becoming more important every day – and NAIOP members are lucky to have immediate access to some of the industry’s best thought-leadership and research studies.
Traveling 50 percent of the time for Prologis provides Reilly with extensive knowledge of scores of markets. However, during his tenure as NAIOP chairman, he noted in his quarterly Development magazine column that chapter visits gave him unique new insights into the industry.
“[Prologis is] very broad geographically, but within the property type, we’re very narrow. It really helps to talk with chapter leaders in various cities about the office market or the retail environment. It’s very helpful to me to get a different perspective than I usually get,” he said in a 2013 GlobeSt.com interview.
Reilly predicts that global forces and technology will continue to increase the speed at which commercial real estate must anticipate and respond to market changes and tenant needs. “The value proposition for a trade association – like any other business – changes over time. I believe we are in a period of rapid change right now for NAIOP. Our members need to do more, with fewer resources, in less time.”
This interview is part of a four-part series recognizing past NAIOP chairmen and their experiences in leading the organization, all in recognition of NAIOP’s 50th anniversary as a predominant association for commercial real estate. Join us at CRE.Converge, October 10-12 in Chicago, to celebrate NAIOP and 50 years of leadership.
Sheila Vertino is former vice president for information and research, NAIOP Corporate.