Industrial N Illinois

CenterPoint's CIO reveals what advice helped him succeed in Chicago's industrial market

CenterPoint's CIO reveals what advice helped him succeed,ph01

At CenterPoint, if you're looking for advice it's well-known that Jim Clewlow is the guy to find. Throughout his career he's taken note of the lessons he's learned and turned them into what folks around the office have dubbed "CenterPoint-isms."

They aren't strict rules, Clewlow told RE Journals, but more like lessons he and his team have collected over the years. Clewlow rattled off—"The world is round, what goes around comes around," and another "Deals have a shelf life of eggs," meaning if you don't make something happen it'll disappear. Being trustworthy and acting with a sense of urgency is important in the real estate business, said Clewlow who will be at RE Journals' Transportation and Logistics Conference on Oct. 20.

Clewlow, an Illinois native, started at CenterPoint in 1997 and became the Chief Investment Officer in 2005. Now he oversees a team that engages in acquisitions and dispositions for CenterPoint on a national level. But before spending more than 20 years of his career at CenterPoint, Clewlow got his first job at CBRE. He went through training and began leasing and selling industrial real estate for a little over 10 years.

At the time, the market wasn't as expansive as it is now, O'Hare was the only real active area. Clewlow had the opportunity to see Chicago's industrial market grow while being on the front lines. And in 1997, CenterPoint was still a relatively young, fresh company so he was involved in many aspects of the transactions.

"There was lots of energy, we did deals that were really relevant and I enjoyed learning. You were part of everything and that was good exposure for me," Clewlow said. "I was growing up alongside a developing company."

CenterPoint's main business is investing in major coastal and inland port logistics markets that anchor North America's most important freight lines. Most recently, CenterPoint sold a 21-building portfolio in the Chicago market that consisted of nearly 2.4 million square feet and 110 acres of land. And after the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, CenterPoint made a 137,368-square-foot warehouse available to the Houston Food bank for the next six months.

Clewlow said it's been humbling to see the company grow into a sturdy, vibrant business that's a part of the community. An aspect of his job Clewlow really values, is his relationships within the company. He said it's a group that really loves working together and is excited to expand the company. There's still as much good energy as when Clewlow started.

Now that the firm has grown far beyond the Chicago market, Clewlow said his quippy "Clewlow-isms" help guide new brokers. The sayings he's collected over the years hit specific core values and ensures the team doesn't forget past mistakes. That's important for Clewlow because it's the small things that differentiate you from the competition.

"You ask, 'What made CenterPoint the right choice?' And there isn't a huge difference between you and another company. You're winning by inches. That phrase, that's about knowing that the little things get you in the door and get you selected," Clewlow said.

Want more insight from Clewlow? He'll be at RE Journals' Transportation and Logistics Conference with other key players to discuss how the sector is evolving amidst advancing technology and industry disruption. Get your tickets for the Oct. 20 networking event.