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Colliers' China Connection

Los Angeles

Colliers EVP Kevin McKenna says changes happening on the other side of the Pacific have a direct impact on our global supply chain. So last month, he took a group to China to see what's going on first-hand. (We want our honeymoon to be a tour of the global supply chain.)

Kevin (front row center in light blue shirt and khakis), who works out of Colliers' Ontario office, tells us the 25-person group included industrial developer and investor clients as well as brokers from Colliers' Logistics and Transportation Group from across the country. In 10 days, they toured two of China's biggest ports—one just outside Beijing that's comparable to our Ports of LA/Long Beach, where $5B in infrastructure upgrades are underway. Also toured: a new deep-water port in Shanghai accommodating the largest container ships in the world, built on a converted island and connected to land via a 24-mile-long bridge. (They couldn't get the extra 2.2 miles to make it a full marathon bridge.)

Additionally, the group visited a pencil manufacturing factory to see inexpensive Chinese labor and got a load of China's amazing real estate development. "We must have seen a thousand buildings 20 stories or higher under construction in our travels." One development site they toured, the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower, is nearing completion and will be the world's second-tallest building. Half the trip was devoted to the usual tourist attractions like Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall (the group's camera was broken that day, so we took this from the Bisnow spy plane) and the Forbidden City (which is pretty easy to access for a place called "forbidden"), as well as canal-laden Suzhou, known as the Venice of China.

Kevin recently repped Alere Property Group in the purchase of a newly built 593k SF logistics facility in San Bernardino (above). He notes the national government owns all the land in China. You have to go to the government and ask permission to lease the land, and "they'll select the location of the construction based on availability of the land, labor and services including utilities." Despite the challenges, he sees huge opportunities for foreign developers and logistics clients. There's a severe shortage of warehouse buildings, and the vast majority are old buildings with low clearance and limited functionality. But rents are strong and there's little to no vacancy.

It takes a lot to put the trip like this together. Kevin says the ports are owned by the government; to set up meetings, he had to send lists of the people in his group, their companies and contact info. Likewise, getting into many buildings required advance approval. Last year, he organized a trip (above) to see the Panama Canal expansion; next year, he's leading a group to Hong Kong and Vietnam. It all comes back to understanding the global logistics industry. He and his colleagues gain knowledge on these trips that they apply back home in their local markets. By now, you can tell that Kevin loves to travel; he also likes Burgundy wine. (Maybe a trip to the logistics industry in France is in order?)