John E. Huguenard is on a roll. He's got $1 billion in active industrial listings and is on track to top his $700 million deal volume from last year.
The low-key super-broker for the local office of commercial real estate powerhouse Colliers Turley Martin Tucker has closed 17 deals worth a total of $250 million already this year.
And that's no fluke: Huguenard, 45, has sold or leased more than 100 million square feet of industrial property in more than $3 billion of deals since 1994.
His name is as synonymous with the world of commercial real estate as Bif Ward's is with residential.
"John definitely understands the value of a brand and the value of focus," said Jeremy Woods, senior director of industrial real estate for locally based Summit Realty Group. "He's very well-respected in the industry; you can't help but respect someone who has carved out the type of success that he has."
Huguenard has a reputation as a hard worker, arriving to work by 6 a.m. He's a serious guy, not much of a glad-hander, and colleagues say he always makes an effort to show appre- ciation and stay humble despite his success.
"He's the go-to guy for large institutional deals," said Daniel C. Marr, principal of locally based Veritas Realty LLC and founder of what is now NAI Olympia Partners. "He knows who the players are and has been able to do a fascinating job of putting the parties together."
Huguenard, a principal and senior vice president for CTMT, recently sat down with IBJ to discuss his career and market outlook. Here's some of what he had to say:
Where the market stands
Huguenard expects credit-market troubles will take another year or so to work themselves out, but the market should return to some semblance of normal by the end of 2009.
For now, buyers need a lot more money to do deals. So cash is king. For instance, a buyer would have to bring $40 million cash to the table instead of $20 million for a $100 million deal. And the big deals have to be "stacked" with multiple banks to spread around the risk.
Higher gas prices also are changing the model for the distribution market. Tenants are opting for more centers of a smaller size so they don't have to truck their products as far. That means demand is highest for newer midsize warehousing space, while older and larger properties stagnate.
The deal process
The Huguenard team's method for selling commercial properties basically is an auction. After snagging a listing, they send out a dossier to clients within 30 days, call for offers for four to five weeks, and complete the process in 90 to 120 days.
Only about half of Huguenard's deals occur in central Indiana, so he relies on assistance from regional brokers for market-specific information.
Top clients include locally based Browning Investments, private-equityowned CEVA Logistics, Chicago-based First Industrial Realty Trust, Sacramentobased Panattoni and Denver-based ProLogis Trust.
Recent blockbuster deals include a $150 million medical office portfolio in the Carolinas, a $75 million Park 100 portfolio sale for Prudential, and a $50 million deal for Panattoni properties in Plainfield.
His group doesn't need to be involved in every deal, Huguenard said, just the right ones.
"Deals are tough," he said. "You're a marriage counselor. You're a negotiator."
Busting onto the scene
Huguenard got his first taste of the rush of real estate deals in 1988. He was 24 and swooped in to represent Duke Realty Corp. tenant Dana Corp. in a major lease renewal at Park 100. His dad, who owned a paper manufacturer, "just about crapped" when he heard about his son's six-figure commission, Huguenard recalled.
He started brokering investment deals in 1994 and added his first full-time staff member in 1997. Now, he has a staff of eight.
Huguenard, who graduated from Lawrence Central High School and Indiana University, has been a top annual producer for CTMT 11 times and serves on the company's board.
He lives in Zionsville with his wife and four children, ages 4 to 17.
A few indulgences of his success: Huguenard has owned more than 45 cars since he began in the business. (He's now driving a Lexus.) And he enjoys getting away to a lake home in Columbus that once was owned by former Eli Lilly and Co. CEO Randall Tobias.
He said he'll consider retirement in 10 to 15 years.
"One deal won't make or break me," Huguenard said. "I do this because I love what I do."