When David Henry gave a loan in the 1980s to Milton Cooper, founder of Kimco Realty Corp., he was making a critical career connection. Ten years ago, Henry left G.E. Capital Real Estate and, in 2009, became chief executive of Kimco, a 50-year-old real estate investment trust that buys about $500 million worth of shopping centers a year, primarily in the west and Canada.
New Hyde Park-based Kimco has some 15,000 leases with 8,000 tenants, ranging from major retailers such as Home Depot, TJ Maxx and Walmart to mom-and-pop stores such as beauty salons, pizza parlors and coffee shops. Real estate has had a tough three years, but Henry, 62, is seeing uneven signs of recovery as people head toward hard asset investments.
What are you seeing in the changing real estate markets?
The recovery of every commercial real estate cycle has always started with people buying the best properties at relatively high prices. So that's what we're seeing today. Low-quality real estate is still a very tough market out there and prices are still low. So it's almost a tale of two cities.
What do you look for when you buy?
We look obviously for a well-priced, high-quality shopping center in a market where we like the demographics. Long Island, we love . . . it's under-retailed in a sense that retail per capita on Long Island is about half of the retail per capita of the rest of the United States. As a result, our shopping centers here have stayed fuller and we get better rent than other parts of the country where they built too much retail space. Arizona, Nevada and Florida have had a tougher time these last couple years.
What emerging trends do you see?
Store sizes are shrinking a bit. Casual dining and fast food are growing rapidly because people are simply eating out more than they used to. Fitness clubs are growing dramatically; we're signing a ton of health club leases. The other thing that's growing is the showroom space; look at the Apple stores -- the amount of sales that an Apple store generates is just amazing.
What's your favorite gadget?
My wife accuses me of being wedded to my BlackBerry . . . and I happen to like being able to sit in the passenger seat and do my emails.
How do you replenish?
Every year I try to go to Canada to one of the many lakes up there, where the fishing is wonderful and your biggest worry is getting the right bait for your fish. I have eight kids, so I'm not allowed to go fishing very often.
Name. David Henry, chief executive and president of Kimco Realty Corp. of New Hyde Park
What it does. Kimco is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that "owns and operates North America's largest portfolio of neighborhood and community shopping centers and "has specialized in shopping center acquisitions, development and management for 50 years."
Staff. About 675
The roles they play. Overseeing leasing activities, property management, regional construction and redevelopment, as well as back-office personnel for accounting, IT, HR, etc.
Revenues. $850 million to $900 million