Eric Johnson recently joined Industrial Outdoor Ventures as vice president of development and acquisitions. Having worked in the past on a variety of complex rail-, port- and infrastructure-related industrial development projects, he oversee the firm’s development activity, from land acquisition through the construction phase straight through to tenant move-in.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I’m the thirrd of four kids that grew up in a tight knit family on the southwest side of Chicago. I went to Providence Catholic High School, received an undergraduate degree in construction management from Purdue University and an MBA from the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola Chicago. I’m a builder turned investor/developer.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
I had originally thought architecture was the route I wanted to go. I pivoted when I learned about Purdue’s building construction management program and there has been no looking back since. That’s a top-notch program.
How did you get your start in the industry?
As a little kid, Sundays after church my dad used to take us to the industrial buildings he had listings on. I should have paid closer attention in hindsight especially now being an industrial real estate developer, but I guess that is when it all started. Through college I had internships with the best Chicago general contractors. I spent all my time on-site learning from experienced superintendents and PMs how site logistics came together, buildings went up and budgets were managed. This continued after college graduation until I made the switch to development. I’m lucky to say I have learned from the best in the business.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
Easy question…my parents were instrumental role models in my life. I cannot count the number of sacrifices they made in their life to ensure I (and my siblings) received the best education and were afforded every opportunity to exceed in life. It was watching their tireless work ethic that keeps pushing me to this day. It also doesn’t hurt that my dad is a 35-year+ real estate veteran. He’s the most ethical guy I know. At a young age I learned that reputation is everything. My sister is also a 15-year+ veteran. She’s an excellent soundboard when bouncing ideas off of.
What does a day in the life of Eric Johnson look like?
My alarm clock goes off…I mean my daughter lets me know it’s time to get up at 5:30. My wife works evenings so mornings are our catch-up time over coffee. CNBC podcasts on the way in to work followed by calls to contractors on the sites we are currently working on. Jump in to analyzing a handful of promising deals that came through via email. Touch base with local municipalities/community development departments, brokers, engineers and consultants to confirm my thought process. Start underwriting and site planning new projects. Another meeting or two. Then head to daycare to get my daughter. Work the nighttime routine and then have some me-time (with the dog).
What do you like most about your job?
IOV’s platform is on a national basis. No two days are alike. I’m able to see and work in markets that I’ve never been in before. While challenging, I am seeing more in my career now than I ever have before. It amazes me how different submarkets operate across the country. Having Tom and Joe at the helm has been a great—they’re awesome to work alongside of.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
I am fortunate enough to play a large part in executing IOV’s business plan and assist in building up the portfolio. Down the road I’d like to show my child(ren) the ins and outs of the business and get them started just as I was taught.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
I’m a family man. My 10-month-old is learning to walk which keeps me on my toes. My sister may say I live too close to her, but I enjoy hanging out with her family down the street from where we live. Also, I’m a huge Sox and Hawks fan as well.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
Napa Valley is my heaven on earth. I was recently there with my wife, sister and brother-in-law and headed there again this fall. Currently mulling over which wine club I am going to join this go-around!
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Brian Sheehan and Chris Moore.