As an organization, IAMC fosters relationships that turn into both business partnerships and long-term friendships. The path to corporate real estate varies widely, and our members come from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds.
We thank Bill
Luttrell, Director, Corporate Real Estate, Werner Enterprises, Inc. for sharing
- Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am the Director of Corporate Real Estate at Werner Enterprises, a top-tier trucking and logistics company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. My background can best be described as an adventure. I grew up out west in beautiful Southwest Colorado and when I was eight, we moved to the remote Northwest desert area of New Mexico on the Navajo Indian Reservation. My dad was the Director of the Navajo Times tribal newspaper and my mom was a teacher. I saw the ocean for the first time when I was in high school and after one year of college, I joined the Navy to see the world, following my dad’s footsteps who had been in the Navy in WWII. It was the best decision of my life. The Navy sent me to Washington DC to study Russian and then Cryptology and I became a Russian Interpreter serving on nuclear attack submarines during the Cold War, stationed in Japan. Each sub mission was 90 days underwater, no surfacing, no sun, no liquor, no mermaids. When I got out I stayed in Japan, learned Japanese and graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo, then from the University of Texas in Austin.
- Tell us about your path to corporate real estate.
I initially worked at the Japan Bankers Association in Tokyo. I then worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland. In the mid-80s I opened and ran the Texas State Office in Tokyo, as well as Branch Offices in Seoul and Taipei. My international site selection career had begun. Other firms / organizations I have worked for over the next 30 years included John Brown Engineering and Construction (London, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur), Deloitte Fantus (Chicago, LA), the World Bank (Washington DC) and JLL (San Francisco) prior to joining Werner. I initially was doing site selection for Werner’s clients, but over three years ago I shifted to my present Corporate Real Estate position. So, this background has given me knowledge of both the pull side (Economic Development) and the push side (Site Selection) of capital investment on a global basis. I have managed over 200 site selection / economic development projects and have worked / traveled to 49 countries. The adventure continues.
- What is the scope of your responsibilities at your organization?
My primary responsibility is overseeing all aspects of real estate concerning Werner’s 200+ properties in the US, Canada, Mexico and China. That includes being involved in C-Suite strategies and leading the site selection, acquisition, portfolio management and disposition of properties.
- What is your favorite part of your role, or the industry as a whole?
At Werner our main internal company strategy is improving our own efficiency and performance. Doing this also leads to sustained profitability. This goes for real estate as well. We continue upgrading and fine tuning our real estate footprint to better serve our clients. We are using analytics to determine and verify our facility location sweet spots and we are land banking in those areas that offer superb logistics access. This gives us the future flexibility to either pull the trigger and build, or to move on while improving our ROI. We dispose of property when needed. Regarding the industry – in real estate (and I include site selection here) I have always enjoyed solving the puzzle - I’m a Cryptologist! The strategy, the complexity, even the hidden rattlesnakes, never a dull moment. One good thing is even during the current pandemic / economic crisis, industrial real estate and well positioned land has remained strong (Good for IAMC too!!!)
- What is one skill specific to your job could you share with the rest of the membership?
I have been in the business a long time. In my early years of site selection, we did not have computers or the Internet. Intelligence came from books, newspapers, magazines, but mostly through personal networking. I was interviewed by the WSJ in 1995 asking me if I thought Economic Development Agencies would benefit by posting their area’s investment info online. GIS mapping came about at this same time. One particular thing also came to light. Out of all the site selection criteria (real estate, labor, taxation, utilities, business climate, etc.), the one criteria I saw becoming increasingly important, yet the most complex and company specific, was logistics. The Supply Chain footprint and its importance to competitiveness in terms of time, cost, procurement and customer demand. It is the main reason I joined Werner – I wanted to learn logistics. What I share here with the rest of the membership is in industrial real estate (manufacturing and warehouse distribution), logistics should determine your location, and not location dictating your logistics. With analytics and 5G, companies are rapidly embracing that reality and it will have a big impact on industrial real estate location and economic development going forward.
- Tell us about your tenure in IAMC.
I joined IAMC in 2010, and my first Forum was the Spring Forum in Colorado Springs in April of that year. I have been to every IAMC Spring and Fall Forum since that time. It has been a true pleasure being a Service Provider, then a Corporate, a Fellow, an Ambassador and a Board Member of the IAMC organization.
- Fun Facts:
My first job at age eight was shining shoes at a barber shop in New Mexico. I later got paid in Boot Camp for custom spit-shining shoes for some desperate shipmates!
Thank you again to Bill Luttrell for
letting us know more about his path to corporate real estate and IAMC.