Eyeing the Industrial Market: Martin’s Expert Team Predicts Bright Days Ahead

By Ann Kammerer / 02.03.22 / 3 min read

Confidence is rising in the industrial submarket of commercial real estate despite the pandemic that has reshaped all aspects of life. All signs point to growth as companies shift to e-commerce, resulting in an increased demand for small to mid-sized logistic facilities as well as new or renovated facilities for expanding tech services. 

Christopher Miller, SIOR sees the cautious optimism in the market, day-in and day-out. As the Senior Associate, Industrial & Investment Advisor at Martin Commercial Properties, he’s familiar with the history of the industrial real estate market and is keenly aware of the present-day trends and circumstances that will drive the future.

“We saw a slowdown for a couple months right after March 2020,” Miller said. “No one was quite sure what was going on, and we were uncertain of what was on the other side. But we’ve seen a good bounce back in the industrial market as businesses began operating and discovering ways to distribute through e-commerce.”

Miller is one of two commercial real estate professionals in Mid-Michigan accredited by the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors—a leading global professional office and industrial real estate association. Martin President & CEO Van W. Martin is the other who holds the coveted SIOR credential. It’s a designation awarded to just 3,460 brokerage practitioners in 42 countries by the 80-year-old association. Those with the SIOR credential are considered the most capable and experienced commercial real estate brokers in any market.

“The SIOR accreditation shows you are committed to maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards in your field,” said Miller. “It demonstrates to clients that you’ve achieved a level of expertise, and that you’re ready to apply your insights and knowledge to their success.”

Staying Rooted

Miller grew up in Delta Township and attended Waverly High School. While earning his bachelor’s in economics at Michigan State University, he interned for Martin, then took a position with Marcus & Millichap. He relocated to Detroit, then to North Carolina. In between, he married his high school sweetheart, Brooke. Family drew him back to Lansing. So did Martin.

“Van and my mentors Blair Moore and Bob Collum always stressed to me the importance of being involved in the markets, industries and regions we serve,” he said. “Even as an intern, and later as a new associate, I saw how incredibly respected Martin is and how they value education and community.”

Since coming on board with Martin in 2012, Miller has taken his place alongside the most knowledgeable and successful industrial brokers in the Mid-Michigan market. He was involved in 90% of the top 10 industrial deals in 2020. During the pandemic, he transacted deals that supported companies needing warehouse and distribution space to support online sales.

Miller admits he has seen a lot in the last decade, ranging from the economic recovery after the Great Recession of 2008 to a global pandemic. He’s worked in conditions that test availability and demand, and the limits of the market. At times, construction was up. At other times, it was down, driven by cost and expense. The pandemic brought unprecedented changes, and further challenged the resolve of the Martin team to work toward the common good.

Post-pandemic, Miller believes Mid-Michigan will continue to be a viable industrial market for commercial real estate. Lower level of speculative development kept the market healthy—and didn’t result in a glut of space when conditions slowed. In the short and long-term, he sees an industrial real estate market more responsive to location, accessibility, and smaller spaces for technology and e-commerce enterprises.

“Generally speaking, industrial will be the leader in terms of commercial real estate in Greater Lansing,” Miller said. “Rental rates are stronger, vacancies are tighter and we’re going to see more e-commerce. Automotive will keep on rolling. We have a strong track record and we’re well-positioned for continued success.”