CREdible Talk | Episode 3: The Power of Relationships
Some people are happy to run with the herd or even lag behind it. And then there are people like Ab Atkins—those who identify trends and rush in front of the herd.
Ab has been identifying trends for nearly 40 years, which helps him lead KDC’s Mission Critical Data Center practice. In his current role, he oversees site acquisition, development, financial analysis, asset management, leasing and disposition of projects. Since he joined the firm in 2007, he’s been involved in 15 ground up greenfield data center projects in Kansas, Texas, and Virginia in addition to office and industrial build-to-suits projects in Texas and Nebraska.
My practice represents KDC’s desire to be ahead of the herd—at the cutting edge of real estate opportunities. I search for areas that are less commoditized than the traditional real estate sectors.
KDC’s newest data center project is a 130,000-square-foot powered shell data center in Richardson’s Telecom Corridor®, just south of KDC’s CityLine development. It represents the firm’s fifth ground up data center development in the city.
Ab, a native of Louisiana, moved to Texas after graduating from Ole Miss with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Accounting. With his new degree in hand, he took a position as a management consultant in Arthur Andersen’s Houston office. As a member of the firm’s business automation group, he was part of the original team involved in early systems installation development—well before personal computers and the Internet.
“My career has come full circle,” Ab notes. “I started off in the IT world, and now I’m back in it, only on the real estate side.”
At the age of 25 when Ab realized he wasn’t cut out for the life of a computer programmer—he’s more of a people person—he signed on with London-based commercial property developer MEPC PLC. “All my friends were in real estate. It was the thing to do in the ‘80s,” he recalls. “I had no long-term aspirations for the business until I got into it.”
Ab spent 12 years with MEPC, focusing on industrial real estate. He bought bank-owned land lost though the S&L crisis, developed and leased warehouses, and then sold them off.
In the late 1990s, Ab struck out on his own and launched his own industrial development firm. During that time while he and KDC were “friendly competitors” Ab noticed a transition in the warehousing sector away from the traditional focus on the storage of goods toward the logistical movement of inventory. At that same time the leadership of KDC were noticing similar trends in the data storage sector. Soon thereafter Ab and KDC decided it was time to team up to take on a new opportunity to build data centers, which he calls “warehouses of the future.”
“The data center space has evolved in a similar way as the warehouse industry,” Ab notes. “Both industries are no longer about the mere storage of goods and data but much more so about the efficient and reliable movement of goods and data.”
Ab has four adult children—two daughters and two sons—and he spends as much time as possible with them. His hobbies include playing the guitar and exercising, and he also manages his family business, which involves timber, oil, and gas production in Louisiana and West Texas.