Ray Kivett, chief investment officer, Meritex

 

Ray Kivett is leading acquisition and development activity as the new chief investment officer at Meritex, a fourth-generation, family-owned real estate and investment company based in Minneapolis.

Kivett also will support investor interactions and seek potential new investment partners as the century-old company plans to expand its leasing and asset management platform throughout the country.

“One of my first charges here will also be adding a couple more target markets for us,” said Kivett, whose extensive industry experience includes work in Chicago and Dallas. “That’s an exciting thing for a guy coming on board, to add some target markets where I may have some depth and relationships that may be able to benefit us.”

Meritex has about 11 million square feet of commercial real estate in primarily multitenant industrial properties in the markets in which it historically has invested: Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbus, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Phoenix.

Kivett, who has worked with American Realty Advisors, Ridge Property Trust, Prudential Real Estate Investors among other companies, said he has closed about $5 billion worth of acquisitions in his career.

Meritex’s focus on relatively smaller multitenant buildings, from 50,000 to 250,000 square feet, was appealing, Kivett said.

“When you get to know those tenants, those tenants are doing real business,” Kivett said.

Kivett succeeds former Meritex CIO Dan Williams, who is retiring this month after 29 years with the company.

Q: How is Meritex different from other companies where you’ve worked?

A: They’ve stuck to a philosophy, they’ve stuck to a product type. They have a sincere belief that the buildings are assets but they focus on the true and most important asset being the tenants, the occupants in those spaces. They believe in being fair, straightforward and neighborly so there’s a win-win solution no matter which side of the deal you’re on. That’s a pretty refreshing overall attitude compared to the institutional world that I came out of.

Q: How does Meritex work with tenants?

A: There’s a real focus on trying to help them expand, to help them do their business better. If you can make that space more efficient while we take in a little less rent, they’re more likely to stay with you.

Q: What’s the market like now?

A: It’s a pretty frothy market now on the investment side. It’s getting close to peak pricing. This has been a 100-year process to get here, and to keep it going 100 years you act judiciously and wait for the right time. So if it’s not there on the investment side for existing buildings then we have the ability to do development, so we’re doing some of that.

 

Todd Nelson