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It’s no secret we are living in the Amazon age, and last-mile logistics is the name of the game. As distribution centers and other industrial hubs become increasingly important to a global economy, Foundry’s David Blount and Ted Elam have been successfully navigating a microcosm of this industrial development trend in South Florida.
Since 2016, 8.6 million square feet of logistics product has been delivered in Miami. Of that total, Foundry has delivered approximately 3.6 million square feet – 42% of all logistics product in Miami over that span. Additionally, the team has more than 1.7 million square feet of product scheduled to deliver over the next few years. Foundry’s Development & Investment team has quickly become one of the hottest players in South Florida, so we sat down with David Blount and Ted Elam to get an inside look into what they believe contributes to their success in the region.
David and Ted both agree that it’s the effective division of their roles and skill sets that has led them to so much recent success in South Florida. Coupled with the door-opening that Ford Gibson brings to the table, David and Ted each understand the strengths that the other brings to the equation and work closely with Foundry’s Deal Hub to move developments forward.
“My role is to own the numbers portion of the development and acquisition process,” says Ted Elam, who has been with Foundry since mid-2017.
“When an opportunity comes through the Deal Hub, we make sure our financial and market analysis is in place, so we can then capitalize on the opportunity and take it through our investment committee process.”
Foundry’s Deal Hub is based in Boca Raton, Florida, where it is home to eight full-time real estate financial analysts who provide all of the market underwriting and analysis for all of Foundry’s investments across its entire platform. Ted joined the Deal Hub after graduating with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago. He quickly moved through the Hub before joining the South Florida Team. In analyzing potential developments and investments, the Deal Hub relies on information supplied by one of Foundry’s 11 offices across the Southeast and Texas. For developments in South Florida, the Deal Hub relies entirely on a project management and development plan generated by David Blount and his team.
“My role is to own the development,” says David Blount, who has also been with Foundry since 2016. “I work with our local service team and outside brokers to identify development opportunities and figure them out by creating the layout and design and building the development plan and budget.”
David came over to Foundry with Ford Gibson, where Ford had meticulously trained him for years to be a top developer. David assembles the development plan for each of the projects Foundry considers. Under the direction of Ford Gibson, they put it all together: David providing the development plan and Ted providing the market and financial analysis. And together this Team has completed 11 developments and investments in South Florida over the past four years totaling more than six million square feet of space worth more than $892 million.
As one might expect, David and Ted find themselves in almost constant contact. “I keep telling Ted we need to get long-range walkie talkies because we call each other so often. I think our average time between calls is about 28 minutes,” laughs David.
Their consistent communication is crucial when the goal is to source opportunities quickly and efficiently. “We have found a good groove in both maximizing efficiency and letting the machine work effectively,” adds David.
Foundry’s South Florida team must be doing something right, having recently been recognized as Developer of the Year by both the South Florida Business Journal as well as the South Florida NAIOP chapter. While no easy feat, this team’s rhythm and knack for efficiency has driven them toward success and well-deserved recognition.
Both David and Ted will tell you that the foundation for this success has been laid by Ford Gibson, who is celebrating 40+ years of experience and impact on South Florida’s industrial development landscape.
“Ford Gibson’s track record in South Florida is second to none,” David notes. “He has developed over 20 million square feet; you really can’t throw a rock without hitting something Ford developed in west Miami-Dade.”
As industrial development trends continue to change, Ted and David pride themselves on their ability to anticipate the needs of today’s industrial tenants. Last-mile delivery has become increasingly important; so much so that consumers now expect delivery within just a few days (or hours in some cases).
“Our smaller tenants are using technology more than they used to, and larger tenants are starting to incorporate robotics similar to Amazon facilities,” David says. “Today’s tenants have to include technology in their operations or else they won’t be able to keep up.”
Another trend starting to hit U.S. markets is multi-story industrial developments.
“Multi-story industrial, from a global perspective, has actually been around for a long time in Asia and some other select markets, but it’s very new in the U.S. The first true multi-story warehouse to come to fruition in the U.S. is in Seattle, and that hit the market about a year-and-half ago. Now, this type of industrial facility is becoming more and more prevalent,” adds David. “Until recently, the strategy for many companies has been to build distribution facilities in the middle of nowhere. However, with ‘last-mile’ delivery needs, it’s become increasingly clear that distributors can’t be in the middle of the state of Florida and deliver to Miami in two hours. This phenomenon has created a huge demand, which is creating a potential to go vertical. Just like you see residential go vertical, we think warehousing will get to that same point, it is just a matter of when. We are excited about it and we want to be on that cutting edge to maximize an opportunity that may have been overlooked because people may have only been looking at it through a traditional lens.”
It is clear that David and Ted are passionate about what they do on behalf of Foundry, and that passion is evident in all the success the company has experienced in South Florida during the past five years. We asked each what they believe drives this passion.
“Growing up, my favorite toys were LEGOS, but I wouldn’t build what the instructions said. I would build what I wanted to build,” said David, “Now, I think that we get to do that in real life.
I wake up thinking about building things and go to sleep thinking about it. That is always what I have wanted to do in life, and I am fortunate to have that opportunity.”
Ted laughs as he echoes much of what David said. “I wasn’t all that into LEGOS, but I was always excited by problem-solving, and I get to do that all the time now. I was an English minor and business major in college, which some people thought made an odd combination. However, I possess both a creative side and a logical side, and I can channel my energy in two different ways. In my role with Foundry, there is always a complex problem to solve, but I enjoy working with others to combine our talents and resources to overcome those challenges. Each opportunity requires a new set of tools, so I’m always learning something new, and I get excited about that.”
Whether LEGOs, logic, or multi-story industrial projects, there’s plenty to learn from this dynamic duo. Their ability to inspire and build up teams; their propensity for identifying successful D&I projects; and their knack for doing so efficiently have made David and Ted a force to be reckoned with in South Florida.
We could all take a page out of their playbook and approach new projects or challenges with a healthy dose of research, optimism and camaraderie.