Q/A With Geoffrey Kasselman: Industrial RE Specialist, Founder & CEO, Op2mize Energy

Name: Geoffrey Kasselman

Title & Accreditations: Executive Managing Director at NGKF; Former Global SIOR President 2017; CEO of Op2mize Energy

SIOR, LEED AP

Company: Newmark Knight Frank

Based: Chicago, IL

College: University of Michigan

Fun Fact: Was an extra in the crowd scenes of the movie “Slap Shot”

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What are the most notable changes in your work life as a result of new technology in recent years?

Great question! The internet as a productivity and research tool is hard to top. Mobility is also right up there, being able to be truly productive in real time for almost anywhere. Other things come to mind too like CRM and digital marketing. Hoping to harness 3D imaging and 3D printing in the very near future as well. And I’m betting on Augmented Reality over Virtual Reality for truly scalable business applications, but time will tell.

Which aspect of industrial real estate is most ripe for disruption?

Two main things (although there are several): 1) The physical brick & mortar aspects of construction of industrial buildings have yielded very little progression, seems like we are still building the very best of the horse buggies despite knowing that cars and jets are right around the corner (so to speak); and 2) utility infrastructure is aged and unreliable, especially for true e-commerce operations which more closely resemble mission-critical facilities than traditional warehouses… in this regard watch for service redundancy to become more typical, and for alternative energy sources and microgrids to help define the industrial building(s) of tomorrow.

As millennials are driving more and more of global consumption every day, how are supply chains being impacted? How is real estate the solution?

Until they figure out how to vaporize stuff, and transport it at the speed of light to the end user where it can be flawlessly and effortlessly reconstituted without worry or issue, then supply chains with industrial buildings figuring prominently in them are a given. Industrial is thriving based on the dynamic of e-commerce, instant gratification, and urban logistics (the last mile for the critical mass of consumers), coupled with increased transparency and efficiency of the overall supply chain. Plus food and beverage (everyone eats 3 meals/day in good times & bad). Plus cannabis (pardon the pun, experiencing explosive growth). Etc. If you want to bet on a single asset class to thrive for the foreseeable future, pick industrial! Runner up is data center/mission critical. All other assets classes have some oats to sow.

What technology are you most excited to see developed in the future or mature in the market right now?

Tracking several game-changers: Autonomous vehicles make so much sense for everyone everywhere that they are an inevitability. Blockchain is the real deal and will soon dominate all commercial transaction activity in every industry. We are already in transition from a petroleum-based global economy to a solar-based global economy, although it will not hit critical mass until scalable battery storage issues are solved. And to quote Sundar Pinchai, Google CEO: “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire.” Thus, AI has my attention too.

So what will become of the commercial real estate industry then?

The commercial real estate industry, like all industries in all places, is going through transformative disruption on multiple levels. Generally, this is for the best, and the interim turbulence is creating tremendous opportunities for those who understand and know how to traverse the terrain, but there will also a great deal of change and fallout too. Suffice it to say, if you are digitally enabled, progressive in your awareness and education, aligned with capital that “gets it”, and you have a trove of key relationships that cannot be automated anytime soon, then your commercial real estate future could be very bright!