Soon after starting as Link CEO in September 2020, I set out touring hundreds of properties and meeting many of our customers. Talking with the people who use our space, everyone from e-commerce pros to HVAC repair shops, delivered an epiphany: This is the U.S. economy happening in real time.
Logistics real estate is essential to everything from delivering groceries to building rocket ships. With more than five percent of U.S. GDP flowing through the businesses that use Link’s space, we are humbled by the responsibility that comes with owning the largest U.S.-only portfolio of its kind. But I believe the transactional way this industry has operated for decades is starting to end. Customers are going to need more partnership from their real estate providers—in fact, they are already seeking it.
That is why we are building Link differently from the ground up as a reimagined logistics real estate firm. We are not just focused on customers when we sign leases, but also on anticipating and servicing their needs as they grow. Two-plus years after that first tour and as 2023 begins with our foundation at Link firmly set, here is what redefining an industry looks like—from the big picture to the day-to-day.
It starts with people
My primary job is simple: Hire the best talent and empower them to do the best work in the business. That includes recruiting people from outside our industry to help us think with fresh eyes. We support our exceptional people not just by encouraging them to think big, but also by fostering an inclusive culture in which they are free to be their authentic selves. This is what the modern generation of workers wants, and what tomorrow’s successful leaders will provide.
I am inspired daily by how customer-centric Link’s people are. One example: a recent survey in which Link property managers met with more than 9,300 of our customers, visiting 89 percent of our portfolio’s square footage. The survey yielded some fascinating insights, and many customers said they had never experienced such personalized attention from a real estate firm. This is just the very beginning, and we are excited to expand all sorts of person-to-person connections this year.
Data-driven, top to bottom
As we build Link, data and analytics inform everything we do. Proprietary data collection and analysis guide all our key capital allocation and operating decisions and help us identify the best locations for customers to move products more efficiently. Input from our team further increases our understanding of customers’ businesses and improves our own forecasting. Human acumen coupled with our innovative research programs delivers informed solutions. Who those humans are is important, too—we have hired people from places like quantitative trading businesses and private equity data science teams to mesh their experiences with our many logistics veterans.
Data from our national portfolio also drives Link’s sustainability initiatives, from where we prioritize EV infrastructure to how we approach energy management. Last year, we were honored to become the first company in the industrial real estate sector to be named ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year, a federal recognition that distinguishes top corporate energy management programs. More recently, our focus on energy management earned us Executive Member status in the ENERGY STAR® Certification Nation program.
In short, research and data enable us to make better decisions for our people, our investors, and even the environment and the communities where we operate.
Good business includes doing good in our communities
Going beyond the walls of our buildings to improve our communities is essential. That is why I am proud Link launched our community grants program in 2022, supporting everything from outfitting community centers with LED lighting to expanding youth entrepreneurship programs. We are looking for opportunities to invest in both physical and social infrastructure to aid communities enhance their economic prosperity.
We are particularly passionate about addressing childhood hunger. In a single day this October, nearly 900 Link team members volunteered 7,000 hours of their time through the nonprofit CoreGiving, where I am a co-founder and board member, to combat food insecurity in our communities. In tandem with colleagues from other Blackstone portfolio companies, we provided over 650,000 meals to people in need that day. It is moving how fully our people have embraced this cause that is so close to my heart, one which in 2022 raised over $3 million and funded more than 14.5 million meals.
Blackstone behind us
Our community work is another testament to the enthusiasm of Link employees. But—like everything we do—it wouldn’t be possible without Blackstone’s backing as well. Having a capital partner that is simultaneously forward-leaning and patient empowers us. Their conviction in our sector and investment in our success has set us up for years’ worth of benefits.
Every day, I am thankful for both Link’s startup mentality and Blackstone’s support. It is because of Blackstone that Link is the firm we are today with the future I believe we have in front of us.
Much work yet to do
I often think back to my first tour of customers’ businesses after I started as Link CEO and remain in awe of how they propel the U.S. economy. And I am so impressed by everything our team has accomplished to reimagine logistics real estate in the two-plus years since. We always seek improvement, but as the new year begins, I believe the foundation for long-term success is now in place.
Even amid bigger-picture economic uncertainty, I believe the importance of supply chain and logistics will grow whether through continued adoption of e-commerce, supply chain resiliency or increased onshoring and nearshoring. Remember the customer survey I mentioned earlier? More than half the businesses that use Link space reported doing better than they were a year prior, and one in six said they need more space to grow. Those numbers mean we have much work yet to do, and much partnership yet to provide.
Serving customers from e-commerce giants to family businesses is an honor. I am thrilled to continue the journey in 2023—and cannot imagine a better group to redefine logistics real estate with than Link’s phenomenal team.