DCT® Featured on Denver Business Journal: Thought Leader: Hawkins’ DCT Industrial works under two competing theories (video)
January 13, 2016
Thought Leader: Hawkins’ DCT Industrial works under two competing theories
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DENVER— Philip Hawkins is CEO of DCT Industrial, which holds more than 74 million square feet of real estate in markets from southern California to Baltimore.
Real estate watchers in metro Denver know that the Mile High City has notched record numbers in vacancy and rental rates in recent years, but DCT Industrial Trust, a real estate investment trust with nearly $500 million in capital deployment in 2015, pre-dates the area’s fast-growing industrial market by several years.
Denver is home base for DCT Industrial (NYSE: DCT), with 55 of the company’s 135 employees, including CEO Philip Hawkins.
For Hawkins, the market in Denver isn’t the only focus. DCT holds more than 74 million square feet of real estate in markets from southern California to Baltimore.
After national real estate figure Tom Wattles founded DCT Industrial in 2003, he appointed Hawkins, who was fresh off the sale of an office REIT for which he was working, as CEO.
Hawkins led DCT through an initial public offering in 2006 and in late 2016 was invited back to the New York Stock Exchange to ring the closing bell for the company’s 10th anniversary of being publicly traded.
The public model is one Hawkins firmly believes in, he said, because it creates an alignment of interests for all of those involved. The end goal in a publicly traded model is making money for the shareholders, and everyone in the company is united in working toward that goal, because when the shareholders make money, the executives and employees make money.
“(The shareholders’) interests are our interests and there’s no need to somehow create an incentive system to make that happen,” he said.
In the 10 years since the company went public, Hawkins has worked to reposition its portfolio and make the company’s branches work under two competing theories.
When DCT went public, it was in 30 U.S. markets and in Mexico. But in 2007 and 2008, DCT sold about $700 million worth of assets and paid down debt with the proceeds. In 2013, DCT exited Mexico and reduced its number of domestic markets to fewer than 20.
“I’ve been in the business 35 years and I feel very strongly in two opposing concepts,” Hawkins said about his management style of the various branches around the country. “One is individual, market-based autonomy and accountability. But at the same time, it’s a one-company company. It’s hard to achieve both…There are a number of names in our history of real estate that no longer exist because they went one way or the other. Too institutional, too central, too corporate, or way too autonomous and then they end up in a civil war.”
And in DCT’s offices, teams are meant to take complete ownership of what they do, Hawkins said.
“In the old model we had an acquisitions group, an asset management group and an accounting group. Today we have market teams. So instead of organizing by function, we organize by markets. And that market owns what they do. They’re held accountable for delivering results. They own their pro forma,” Hawkins said.
In 2015, DCT deployed $343 million for development and $153 million for acquisitions, for a total of $496 million in total, while selling another $274 million worth of properties.
Still, 10 years out from its IPO, Hawkins feels like the company is just getting started.
“My view was it’s nice to look back, we did a great job, but let’s look forward. And it’s not really a commemoration but a commencement. I feel like we’re still in the early stages of building a company that can make a big difference in our business.”
Company: DCT Industrial Trust Inc.
Industry: Industrial real estate development, acquisitions and property management.
Education: Hamilton College, bachelor of arts, 1978; University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, masters of business administration, 1980.
Favorite book: “I’m not sure it is possible to have just one favorite book. But if I have to pick one now, it would be Hamilton.”