Bruce Duncan, president and CEO of First Industrial Realty Trust (NYSE: FR), 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 First Industrial being listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Duncan discussed the significance of this milestone.
“For the REIT business, I think that the model works,” he said. “For First Industrial, we’ve been through a lot, and as we look back, I think it’s a tribute to our team. We’ve got a great team that is focused on doing the right thing for shareholders, and we’ve had some great success over the last four or five years.”
Duncan was asked to describe a transformative moment in the past 20 years. He noted that he joined the firm in early 2009 as it was caught in the market downturn.
“What we did, as a team, is deal with our issues,” Duncan said. “What we did was right size the organization. We went back to basics, we simplified our business model and we focused on getting our leverage back in order. It’s really a function of focusing on doing the right things for your shareholders, and doing the right thing for your tenants.”
First Industrial has seen 15 consecutive quarters of positive net absorption in the industrial sector. Duncan shared his thoughts with regard to what is driving the trend.
“I think it’s the economy. The economy is doing pretty well,” he said. “We’ve seen great demand for tenants, both large and small. I think that’s translated into occupancy growth throughout our industry, and we’re very bullish on that.“