Customer Requirements in Focus—The Prologis Customer Led Development Team
Prologis recently established customer led development teams in Europe aimed to focus more closely on customer requirements.
Stefan Olesch, director, lead customer led developments Germany, oversees the specialized team within capital deployment at Prologis throughout Germany and, among other things, assesses the feasibility of all customer requests. In addition to his technical expertise as an architect, his negotiation and team-building skills are essential.
Konstantin Braun, capital deployment manager, customer led developments, forms the commercial side and identifies potential property acquisitions that are suitable as development sites. In doing so, he supports the expansion of major national and international customers and manages all land and after-sales transactions.
In this interview, Stefan Olesch and Konstantin Braun explain how the customer led development team is bringing customer requirements into the spotlight at Prologis.
Why was the customer-led development team created?
Stefan Olesch: Customer led development teams have existed at Prologis in the USA for several years. They are well established there, and we have been able to achieve many successes with our customers in the U.S. Now we are following suit at Prologis in Europe to focus more strongly on customers and their requirements here. The goal of the customer led development teams is for our customers to know we are a reliable partner and the first choice for the development of new settlements or relocations. These focus customers are mostly from the food and e-commerce industries, as well as last-mile delivery. Just like our colleagues in the UK, France and Italy, we formed a national team, so we can respond to the individual demands and needs of our customers in Germany.
Konstantin Braun: One issue that has preoccupied our industry for some years now is the increasing scarcity of land. We are working closely with our key customers and selected brokers to develop an expansion strategy that meets the high demand for space and restructuring. Part of this strategy is to enter new markets. An example is our acquisition of a portfolio in Berlin in the summer of 2021, but we also believe locations in Central and Eastern Germany have great potential. In doing so, we are using our own existing resources. These include colleagues from departments, such as research, marketing, legal and procurement. We also benefit from long-standing relationships with municipalities, business development agencies, development companies, public authorities, brokers and strategic customers from our core markets, which include the regions of Munich, Hamburg, Rhine-Ruhr, Rhine-Main and now Berlin. This enables us to realize even the most ambitious customer requirements.
To what extent do you exchange information with other customer-led development teams in Europe or globally? In which areas can you learn from each other?
Stefan Olesch: There are individual legislations and network structures for each country, so the general conditions are different. Nevertheless, the basic approaches are almost identical. With our customer led development teams, we try to develop standardized systems and milestones across Europe as early as possible. We establish internal databases and exchange information about how we track projects. This ensures we can offer well-established processes to our customers, who often also operate across Europe. In all standardization and optimization measures, we maintain a close exchange with our customers—thus avoiding any friction and misunderstandings.
What benefits does the customer led development team provide to customers?
Konstantin Braun: Our customers benefit from a team consisting of highly qualified experts with extensive know-how in their respective fields. We support them, for example, in establishing contacts and coordinating with municipalities, as well as in urban land use planning. The municipalities also benefit because, in many cases, the settlement of our customers means that new jobs are created. With the customer led development team, we offer more opportunities to for them contribute ideas and develop ideal solutions for their region.
Stefan Olesch: Prologis operates worldwide and therefore has a good foundation, especially in the areas of financing, development and sustainability. Our long-term partnerships ensure a strong bond with our customers and other stakeholders. The customer led development team helps our customers learn about and take advantage of the resulting benefits and profit greatly from working with Prologis.
What challenges does the customer led development team face on a regular basis?
Stefan Olesch: Every new development has its own unique demands. In addition to the usual high quality of the facility, there are new individual requirements in the areas of intralogistics, automation, e-mobility and sustainability. Meeting customer requirements also means being able to act in difficult situations. The general scarcity of land inevitably means we have to rethink. In order to meet demand, revitalizing brownfield sites plays an important role. Although brownfield development is effective, it’s also costly. To meet deadlines and budgets, as well as the high standards of Prologis and our customers, more complex measures are required than just a few years ago. Added to this are challenges, such as the generally high level of demand in the construction sector, the shortage of raw materials and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can you talk a bit about a recent project you completed or an upcoming project for the customer led development team?
Konstantin Braun: In Germany, we have completed numerous build-to-suit projects for larger customers in our core markets over the last 10 years. These customized solutions are precisely tailored to the operational business in the respective sector and the individual needs of each customer. For example, in May 2021 we completed a logistics facility for Rhenus Home Delivery, from which the company handles its last-mile business for furniture, as well as household and electrical appliances, among other things. Together with the customer, we defined all the details from the design planning to the construction specifications.
Stefan Olesch: For our customers, the customer led development team goes one step further and moves its expertise into new territories, such as smaller towns and communities, if requested. We approach the communities and address their concerns seriously, such as new or increased traffic volumes and the issue of noise abatement. The customer led development team generates solutions for through studies and conceptual designs in workshops. In Prologis Park Kerpen, for example, we had a traffic circle built in front of our facility to optimize traffic routing and make it safer.
What role do sustainability and innovation play? Do you also work with external partners in these areas?
Stefan Olesch: Sustainability is an omnipresent topic for us. We work closely with energy consultants and auditors to keep our finger on the pulse and implement innovative sustainability measures in a meaningful way. In addition to environmental protection, the well-being of our customers' employees also plays an important role. In the fall of 2020, we completed the first facility in Germany certified according to the WELL Building Standard. The customer is the online retailer EUZIEL. The WELL Building Standard focuses on people. In our facility in Datteln, air and water quality are constantly monitored. In addition, the air quality is significantly improved by the plants in the hall. Employees can use several water dispensers in the building, and the offices and meeting rooms are equipped with upscale soundproofing. In addition, a total of six monitors are available throughout the building, where employees can find information about air and water quality, indoor and outdoor climate, electricity and gas consumption, as well as public transport departure times, among other things.
Innovation at Prologis is also driven by our own future labs. In test centers, our Prologis Ventures team works on solutions for the digital and sustainable logistics facility of the future. Operational topics, such as the Prologis Essentials Marketplace, have also moved into the customer focus in recent years. Based on proven customer-oriented criteria, Prologis Essentials Marketplace offers many important products and services to equip and maintain our customers’ logistics facilities—from solar systems and LED lighting to racking systems and forklifts.
How do you approach communities that are of interest to you as future sites?
Konstantin Braun: Every new settlement in a community involves political decisions. The economic well-being of the community and the ecological and social compatibility of the settlement are examined and weighed carefully. To create a constructive and trusting relationship, we support the communities in their decisions in a transparent and comprehensible way. Sustainability certificates help in the process. The certificates of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) or the international WELL Building Institute are well known.
In addition, we offer communities extra measures, such as our PARKlife concept, with which we far exceed the satisfaction of employees and improve external aesthetics in harmony with nature, compared to a commercial logistics site. In some cases, PARKlife also provides parking and sanitary facilities for truck drivers to reduce the impact on the community.
Would you like to get to know the Prologis Germany team better? Watch our video to learn more about us and how we work.