Meet The Next Generation of Leaders in MAREJ's 30 Under 30
Alex Kouwenhoven | Leasing Manager | Prologis
Years with company/firm: 1
Years in field: 4
Years in real estate industry: 4
Real estate organizations/ affiliations: NAIOP Member & Developing Leader
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
The defining professional accomplishment of my career to date occurred over the course of about six months in 2021. I was working as an office and industrial leasing broker in the boroughs of NYC and was closely observing the impact of the pandemic on the urban leasing markets. During this period of skyrocketing vacancy rates and depleting transactional volume, I saw my growth opportunities diminishing, so I began researching other markets and asset classes with the goal of discovering an area the pandemic was impacting differently. Through this process, I identified and eventually secured an opportunity to join the Prologis NJ team where, conversely, the NJ industrial markets were experiencing historic growth. Since joining the team in August 2021, I have been involved in lease transactions totaling over 1 million s/f in a submarket where the average building size is 65,000 s/f. I view this successful pivot and my ongoing adaptation to this new market as the biggest accomplishment of my career to date.
How do you contribute to your company and/or the industry?
I strive to contribute to the industry by embodying Prologis’ core traits, the “Three C’s” – change through innovation, customer centricity and culture & talent. Managing the leasing and asset management of nearly 7 million feet of industrial product in Northern NJ creates an abundance of opportunities for innovation as I am constantly encountering unique situations and exploring ways to improve processes with new approaches. Customer centricity is another critical part of my role as we have over 100 customers in my submarket. Managing our relationships with these customers both large and small to ensure they have the resources and services they need to operate at maximum efficiency is critical to our company, the industry, and the economy as a whole. Lastly, I strive to impact the culture and talent of my company and the general industrial real estate industry by doing what I can to make the field a more welcoming and inclusive environment for anyone considering a career in commercial real estate. I am involved with several industry organizations, the local Meadowlands Chamber and enjoy networking.
Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in, about your current position and why you choose the field/profession you are in today?
I began my career in real estate as a research analyst at a global brokerage firm with the responsibility of tracking and analyzing the office, retail and industrial markets in NYC’s outer boroughs. Having had a summer internship at an industrial REIT during college, I took a strong interest with industrial and was tasked with building out the firm’s NYC industrial database and conducted early reporting as a result. From there, I was promoted into a client-facing role as a broker and presented with the opportunity to get my hands dirty in the markets I had analyzed, working on lease and sales transactions with landlord and tenants. Industrial quickly became my primary focus as demand in the office markets tapered off during the pandemic and I was able to join Prologis as a result. Prologis was actually one of my landlord clients. I choose to work in the industrial space because I find it endlessly interesting. Industrial real estate enables the movement of goods, making it a great catalyst for interacting with the broader economy.
What unique qualities and or personality trait do you feel makes you most successful in your profession?
One core personality trait that makes me well suited to the commercial real estate industry is my insatiable desire to learn. Purchasing, owning, and operating industrial real estate assets presents constant opportunities to learn as each market, building, tenant and transaction is completely unique. The opportunity to work alongside and learn from industry veterans with enormous amounts of experience here at Prologis and our third-party brokers essentially provides a master class in the field. At the end of the day everyone who sets out to build a career in the commercial real estate industry is a student of the business. I hope to retain this quality as I progress throughout my career and eventually impart my own wealth of knowledge onto the next generation of professionals.
What outside activities do you enjoy during you free time?
I am a life-long outdoorsman. When given the opportunity to escape the confines of my apartment and neighborhood in Manhattan, I enjoy getting out in nature and unplugging whenever possible. My primary pursuit in the outdoors is fly fishing, which I enjoy because it’s meditative while also complex, challenging and often a bit frustrating. Exploring the natural world on the weekends also provides an excellent contrast against my weekdays spent on the highways and in the warehouses of the NYC metropolitan area. One time those two worlds collided when I ran into a broker, with whom I just completed a lease deal, on a trout stream in the Catskills.
What inspiring word of advice would you give to a young executive graduating from college?
Be persistent, resilient, and gracious when you set out to establish a career in commercial real estate. There’s no rule that says a closed door isn’t going to open again at some point in the future.