Collin Phillips: Meeting Today’s Challenges with Teamwork and Expertise

Collin Phillips, vice president of leasing and development

In another life, Duke Realty vice president of leasing and development Collin Phillips might have made his passion for the outdoors a career—maybe as a wilderness guide. “I have those crazy dreams that a lot of people have, of doing something outdoorsy. I like hunting, backpacking. You can turn those into careers, but they’re probably more hobbies for now.” He also considered Wall Street and the Navy SEALs. He loves a fast pace and a challenge.

Phillips came to Duke Realty in 2017 with seven years of prior experience in commercial real estate, much of it on the transactional and development side. One of the things he appreciated right out of the gate was the level of trust and the latitude to do the work in his own way. 

“The development process is a pretty complicated, convoluted one,” Phillips said. “It’s definitely not a straight path. There are hundreds of steps to get from when we start to when we deliver a finished product. It helps to have a lot of autonomy. Obviously, when we need to, we go up the ladder and ask questions and get approvals for things, but it’s good to be able to be flexible and nimble. There are so many moving pieces, it’s easier if you’re able to make a lot of your own decisions.”

That quickness and flexibility are even more important in the highly competitive Southern California market. “The demand is high, and the supply is kept in check by geographic constraints—you have the mountains, the ocean, the desert—and the amount of time it takes to entitle a new project means you can’t just create new opportunities out of thin air.”

As important as that autonomy is to keeping projects moving, Phillips credits a team approach with making sure all the pieces are working in concert. 

“One of the best things about Duke Realty is that everyone’s an expert in their field,” said Phillips. “I can reach out to the legal department, and they’re amazing at what they do. I can reach out to construction, and they’ll have answers on that. Property management, development services—everyone is very good at their craft, and when you put them all together it turns into a pretty incredible product.”

At the moment, the biggest challenges Phillips faces are the same ones everyone in the market faces: higher rent prices that drive up the cost of land and cascading supply chain issues that threaten to slow the construction phase. 

“Our teams have done a great job of being proactive and getting in front of those supply chain issues,” he said. “As far as land prices, I’m just trying to seek out new opportunities for us that are appropriately priced, based on the risk associated with them.”

Challenges like these are what brought Phillips to industrial real estate in the first place, but it’s the people he works with that keep him at Duke Realty. 

“Everyone I work with on a day-to-day basis I consider a friend, and I have a good relationship with them,” he said. “If you’re going to come to work every day and work as hard as we do, you have to have that. I also get to talk with a lot of talented individuals who work in businesses that are completely different than ours, and I really enjoy understanding how they manage their businesses.”

Our tenants face a variety of supply chain and logistics challenges. They have to factor in growth as well as fluctuations in demand. And choice of location is critical.

“At the end of the day, if they don’t have their product, they can’t sell it, and they don’t receive any revenue,” Phillips said. “I think it’s pretty fascinating to get to see, in each industry, a different part of it. And it’s exciting to be a big part of making sure it all works.”

For Phillips, that excitement is what keeps him going through every one of those hundreds of steps from the beginning of development through the last signature on the deal. That, and the solidity of the work itself.

“I’ve always loved business. I love finance, real estate; I grew up in that world. But I also love the physical—the tangible aspect of buildings. That’s why I went into real estate, versus Wall Street. If you go the Wall Street route, it’s a bit more staring at a spreadsheet all day.”

Phillips’ work at Duke Realty couldn’t be more different. “In this job, complex problem-solving in the physical world is a daily thing for me. They are fascinating, really—the things I learn every day at Duke Realty.”

Working with tenants who are experts in their fields of business, we demand nothing less from our associates. Understanding other businesses as well as we do our own is just one of the ways we deliver excellence in logistics real estate for our customers.