Chicago industrial icon Jim Dieter, who was lured out ofretirement to take over industrial brokerage at Cushman &Wakefield early this year, says he picked a great company and agreat time to come back into the market. The former head of CBRichard Ellis’ industrial practice says he’s having the time of hislife, with energy and passion of getting involved in theoperational side again.

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Recently, Dieter spoke with GlobeSt.com about the coming year,how movement has begun to pick up for industrial tenantsnationwide, vacancy rates are stabilizing and absorption hasincreased substantially since late 2009. The US industrial marketis ending the year on a positive-but-cautiously optimistic note,Dieter says.

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GlobeSt.com: You’ve been at your new position sinceJanuary, how have you adapted to un-retirement and the newjob?

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Dieter: It’s going great. We’re recruitingaround the country, including here, and we’re institutingcutting-edge practices that I’ve learned in my experiences. Thisreally includes collaboration – all large companies, including thisone, are challenged by pushing to the edge of a oneness culture.I’m able to take everything we’re doing in the industrial platformand connect the dots, throughout the division and with the companyas a whole. This communication includes a series webinars on allfacets of the industry, both internal and inviting clients toparticipate. We just held a transportation webinar that cut acrossour industrial platform. We’re also conducting conferencesthroughout the industry, and geographically, one-to-two dayconferences for brokers and clients. Finally, we have regionalconference calls, with the single mission being collaboration,leveraging the great enterprise of Cushman & Wakefield. This iswhat clients expect of us, they want the national and globalplatform, but catered to their local need.

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GlobeSt.com: What do you think of the current stateof the industrial market?

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Dieter: If you look at absolutes, look at theyear to date, there’s overall nationwide negative absorption of 6.1million square feet, significantly better than the negative 118million square feet of absorption that we recorded at the same timein 2009. We’re starting to absorb space. If we want the rents tocreep up, the number one way is to chip away at absorption, and thenumber two way is to not building anything anymore. We’ve got newconstruction at about nil, that’s great news, there’s reallynothing that’s been added to the supply of any consequence. If thistrend continues, we’ll see rents increase.

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GlobeSt.com: What about the fundamentals of theindustrial market? Moving forward, or not?

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Dieter: Well, look at the trend inmanufacturing. According to the Institute of Supply Management,there’s been a slowdown in manufacturing up until the past 12months, where there’s been improvement and increased output. Thatis a huge factor. Also, look at the ports – with a few exceptions,US ports are reporting a year over year gain in container traffic,and a gain in exports by 15%. Intermodal business is up 17%.However, jobs still trump everything. If there’s a weight oneveryone’s shoulder it’s the job market.

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What drives the current activity now is that companies have beenconsistently looking over the last few years, nonstop, atefficiencies, how to do things better but more efficient. When acompany is looking at efficiencies, whether in production or indistribution, the end result is usually a real estate transaction.The company goes through a study, and the end result is that theyhave too many buildings, or not enough buildings, or there’smodernization issues, or outsourcing to third-party logisticscompanies that allows the firm to take less space. The end resultmay be a real estate transaction, but not necessarilyabsorption.

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GlobeSt.com: Do you think we’ve seen the end of theone-million-square-foot-plus distribution building, at least for afew years?

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Dieter: I think we will see continued largebuilding development. You’re always more efficient under one roofvs. having multiple smaller buildings. When the world gets back tonormal, I think you’ll see that trend again. There will be newdevelopment coming, but it’s going to be very targeted and finitedevelopment.

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GlobeSt.com: What do you see as the state of theindustrial market next year?

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Dieter: I’m cautiously optimistic. There’s beenpositive trends, exports and manufacturing continue to show growth,railroad shipments show growth, and companies appear to show growthin income statements. They appear to have cash in their companies.If there’s a confidence level that comes across nationally,companies will expand and move forward, and I see confidencewritten all over the state of affairs now.

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