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Duke Realty’s Oklak Cites Merger as Transformative Event for Company

06/06/2014 | By Sarah Borchersen-Keto

Denny Oklak, chairman and CEO of Duke Realty Corp. (NYSE: DRE), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview during REITWeek 2014: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Duke Realty’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Oklak discussed the significance of this milestone.

“It’s just been a great run for Duke Realty… We spent 20 years as a private company and now 20 years as a public company, and we’re very, very proud of that track record of growth, serving our customers and taking care of our people,” Oklak said. “We’ve seen significant changes and growth in the industry during our time as a public company.”

Oklak was asked to pick the most transformative events of the last two decades. He pointed to the 1999 merger with Weeks Corp. as a major turning point for the company. Prior to the merger, Duke Realty was a Midwestern industrial and suburban office company. The merger, however, “really put us all throughout the Southeast and put us on course to becoming a national company.”

A second transformative event, according to Oklak, was Duke Realty’s decision a few years ago to make the company more of an industrial REIT. Today more than 60 percent of the company’s portfolio consists of industrial assets.

Meanwhile, Oklak also noted that Duke Realty is currently focused on the development side of its business.

“Most of that is in bulk industrial. We’ve got great land positions around the country. We’re seeing great demand there. A lot of it is build-to-suit activity with just a few speculative projects. We’re also doing some development in medical office building and some suburban office development on some of the sites we have left,” Oklak said.

Oklak offered a more subdued picture on the acquisitions front.

“We’ve slowed down a little bit. Pricing has gotten fairly steep, especially on the industrial side for us, so we’ve been more active in the disposition market, selling some additional suburban office buildings and redeploying those proceeds back into the development pipeline,” Oklak noted.