president of the Institute St. Onge, an investment advisor in
the logistics and manufacturing sectors. By providing strategic business analysis, site selection, labor supply studies, and
economic development assistance, they can position themselves as valuable partners in their clients' efforts to expand.
Onshoring: Bringing Production Back to the
Other business opportunities exist in expanding the manufacturing base in this country. Some companies are finding that
creating a supply chain and expanding locally or regionally is
more effective than sending production overseas. This movement toward "onshoring" is gaining steam as companies look
at the many factors involved in bringing products to market.
The labor rates in China are expected to increase by 15 to
20 percent each year, for example. This, coupled with rising
fuel costs and a desire to bring products to market faster, is
leading some companies to build new facilities or expand in
the United States. Some companies also are finding that logistics and time to market are key factors for their customers.
Danfoss, a $6 billion Denmark company with a production facility in Rockford, IL, recently expanded its
manufacturing operations in Rockford instead of adding
capacity to its Denmark or China operations. The company makes climate and energy controls, and variable
speed drives for a variety of industries around the world.
The Rockford facility makes customized drives tailored
to specific applications, so it was important to stay close to
the customers in North America. "Market research tells us
that our customers want proximity," according to David
Holmgren, the company's director of purchasing in North
Taking an Advisory Role
In this global marketplace, real estate professionals are
wise to focus on building business alliances and shifting their mindset away from a transaction based busi-
ness.Many companies today are looking to partner
with brokers who offer a wider range of services and
can evaluate the clients' entire business operations.
The trusted advisor should be well versed in a mix of business and real estate economics, focusing on helping clients
reduce operating expenses, think strategically about supply
chain logistics and how to retool the manufacturing process
for today's market. All of those factors are on the minds of the
C-Suite—today's CEO and CFO—as they make decisions
about where to expand operations, how to reconfigure space
for new technology and machinery, and whether to move all
or part of their production overseas.
Look for the Niches
In this new economy, business growth often is focused in
niche markets. Sectors such as healthcare continue to outperform other sectors and offers opportunities in the pharmaceutical, distribution, retail and physician space areas.
Another growing niche is consumer staples, particularly
those that cater to middle market shoppers who want lower
Marketing with Technology and Social
Technology also is a valuable tool and one that can set brokers apart from their competition. This is particularly true
in a global marketplace where the latest apps and software
can help bridge the physical distance between continents.
Whether using iPads and the latest video
capabilities to promote a renovated building or setting up a virtual deal room for
clients around the globe, brokers can distinguish themselves with the latest technology. Some apps even allow you to add voice
narration to floor plans and search through
virtual property databases with customized criteria, according to John Adams III,
SIOR, CCIM, a principal with Cornerstone
CRES, a Cushman & Wakefield Alliance.
Another valuable marketing tool is social
media, which provides a vast platform for
brokers to showcase their real estate holdings
and build a strong brand. The key with social
media is to maintain a regular schedule for
posts and updates; be consistent with your
branding; and use metrics to measure your
ROI, according to Geoffrey Kasselman,
SIOR, LEED AP, and president of Op2mize,
a Chicago commercial real estate technology services and consulting firm.
As brokers look ahead to 2012 and
beyond, they should stay focused on the age old fundamentals—providing strong customer service and targeted real
estate solutions for the changing business landscape. These
fundamentals, paired with state of the art technologies and
marketing tools will help commercial real estate professionals move clients into new markets, expanding their opportunities for the future.
John Adams III,
SIOR, LEED AP