CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust is rolling out initiatives this summer ranging from $50 fines for employees who don’t return telephone calls within two hours to nearly $2 billion in four separate joint venture funds. The national industrial REIT already has launched a $425-million net-lease fund, but is seeking partners for an $800-million stabilized asset fund, a $300-million development fund and $400-million corporate repositioning fund.

The stabilized asset fund will promise investors moderate returns from income and appreciation, while higher returns could be achieved in the development and corporate repositioning ventures. The funds were outlined during the company’s recent presentation to investors and analysts.p>Company officials hope to sign up joint venture partners by the end of the year. They also predict the funds will deploy their capital over a two-year period.

The joint ventures are part of a strategy aimed at capitalizing on First Industrial’s size-—73.2 million sf in a portfolio worth $3.4 billion—-and serving “corporate America” that prefers to focus on its business rather than manage real estate. “This is sort of the unveiling of the car we’ve been working on the last couple of years,” says president and chief executive officer Michael Brennan.

Meanwhile, the company rolls out its “two-hour rule” this week, which fines employees $50 for failure to return calls to tenants and brokers within that time limit. The money will be donated to charity.

First Industrial already receives high marks for customer service, according to a recent Kingsley & Associates survey that put the company in the upper 8% of all subscribing real estate firms. That includes a customer service strategy that eschews voicemail, says senior regional director Richard S. Czerwinski. “When you sum it up, it all comes down to continuous customer contact,” he adds.

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