Duke Realty CEO Reflects on Accomplishments as Retirement Nears

Denny Oklak, chairman and CEO of Duke Realty Corp. (NYSE: DRE), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2015: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Oklak, who is stepping down as CEO at the end of the year, reflected on his tenure at the helm of Duke.

Oklak pointed out that as CEO for almost 12 years, he has been able to accomplish many of the goals he set for the company.

He also expressed confidence that his successor, James Connor, is ready to take over the top spot. With 17 years of experience at Duke, Connor needs little in the way of advice as he assumes his new role, according to Oklak.

As for future plans, Oklak said he will try to relax a little bit, but will stay on Duke board as well as the board of Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: XHR).  “I’m sure I’m going to keep busy,” he said.

Looking back, Oklak reflected on the major repositioning of the Duke portfolio.

“I feel very good about what we’ve done over the last five or six years. We really repositioned the company to have the best industrial portfolio in the United States. Also, while smaller, the best medical office building portfolio,” Oklak said. “I think the company is very well-positioned for the future.”

Turning to broader developments in the real estate cycle, Oklak said the current economic recovery has taken longer than prior recoveries, but has nevertheless been solid.

“This point in the industrial space is about as good as we’ve seen it for a long time,” Oklak said. He said he expects to see continued restraint in terms of new supply, “so hopefully we’ve got a little bit more runway left.”