Phil Hawkins, CEO of DCT Industrial Trust (NYSE: DCT), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2012: NAREIT's Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.
Hawkins discussed his outlook for fundamentals in the industrial sector. He noted that, up to now, fundamentals measures have shown steady improvement, with a limited amount of new supply coming online and healthy demand for industrial space from the market.
"Despite a lot of things to worry about in our economy, decision-making has continued to happen. We've seen good leasing activity since the summer and had great first half of the year as well," Hawkins said.
He then turned to 2013.
"I see '13 happening much as we're seeing it now: good demand, good activity," Hawkins said. "Not necessarily great, we're in sort of a slow-growth economy. There may be months or a quarter here and there that are better than that or maybe a little slower than that. But, for the most part, companies are making decisions when they are able to find solutions to their distribution needs that save money, improve efficiency and reduce time to market. That's what is driving our business."
Hawkins offered insight into how he monitors the interplay between his company's business in the United States and the global economy. He pointed out that a number of DCT's customers do business abroad.
"What drives our business is what companies are doing in the U.S.," Hawkins said. "That, to me, is what we think about: Being the best, most successful U.S. operator of industrial real estate. Clearly, global factors matter. We see that, but, on the other hand, our focus is really on being a strong, responsive, effective U.S.-focused landlord."
Hawkins said his company has been active in developing and acquiring assets in the current market.
"Our focus has been as much on applying our operating platform as it is our capital, so we've been willing to take on assets with leasing or redevelopment risk—opportunities that we see to create value beyond just investing capital" Hawkins said.