From Tennis Scholarship to Asset Management, Kevin Apel Brings his A Game Every Day
As senior vice president and market officer for Prologis’ Inland Empire division, Kevin Apel and his team oversee a sizable portion of the company’s portfolio. Kevin talked to us about how his time as a competitive athlete and his experience in the brokerage community have been instrumental in landing him his dream job at Prologis.
Corporate Communications: Please tell us about your background.
Kevin: I studied kinesiology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. I attended college on a tennis scholarship and spent a lot of time in the training room, so I thought I wanted to be an athletic trainer. Eventually, I realized I loved negotiating and working with all kinds people, traits necessary for this business. After college, a family friend introduced me to real estate, and I was sold. I started as a broker at Lee & Associates (Los Angeles–Central Submarket), but a couple of years later, I switched over to the institutional side of real estate at DB/RREEF, where I also got my CCIM. But it was at KTR Capital Partners, which was acquired by Prologis in 2015, where I really sharpened my skills and got my “master’s” in real estate.
Corporate Communications: How did your career path lead you to Prologis?
Kevin: I always wanted to work for Prologis. Back in the 90s, I was a broker at Lee & Associates. At the time, they (Lee & Associates) were a small boutique firm of street brokers that mostly did tenant rep deals. Part of the reason I left to go on the institutional side of the business was the best-in-class real estate Prologis owned in the central submarket of Southern California. Back then, DB/RREEF, Trammel Crow and Prologis were the biggest (and best) landlords in that market. The last deal I did while I was a broker at Lee & Associates was representing an apparel company moving into a 100,000 square foot building owned by Trammell Crow, who was represented by Rob Antrobius (now Prologis’ senior vice president/market officer in Los Angeles). Ten thousand real estate deals later, in 2015, I got the opportunity to work with Rob again when KTR Capital Partners sold to Prologis. I came full circle.
Corporate Communications: How does your professional and personal background inform your approach to your work, specific to Prologis Essentials?
Kevin: I focus on being strategic versus reactionary. I don’t look at things as silos or compartments. My approach is more holistic. While I understand the micro intricacies, I like to keep my eye on the macro picture. For example, when I played tennis, if I was dominated on the base line, I moved to the net; if my opponent liked pace, I’d slice. If you don’t change a losing strategy quickly, the game will be over quickly.
Corporate Communications: How do you stay on top of your customers’ needs?
Kevin: This is the most challenging and fun part of my job since most of my customers are global customers. Analyzing the deal, getting to know the people involved, understanding the dynamics of any potential competition, and establishing great broker relationships are at the forefront of how I approach this key pillar of the Prologis business.
Corporate Communications: How do you view and practice operational excellence?
Kevin: Starting in brokerage before moving to asset management taught me resilience and fierce resolve. It was great experience and it helps me today by making sure I stay abreast of trends and remain knowledgeable on the latest products and best practices. When you’re a broker at a smaller firm you have to be scrappy and one step ahead of the competition. It doesn’t get lost on me that I now oversee the leasing and operations of 61 million square feet of Prologis space.
Corporate Communications: Outside of work: Hobbies? Passions?
Kevin: My wife, Harmony, and I were married for 15 years before we had kids, who are now 3 and 1, so my answer would be a lot different if you had asked me a few years ago! Before having our kids, I loved a good adventure, traveling abroad, taking cross-country motorcycle rides, flying our Cessna 172 (I have a pilot’s license) around Southern California and hiking/backpacking in the Sierras. Now, our adventures look a little different. We’re lucky if we get to hit up a family resort with a kiddie pool, but I still love playing tennis and hitting the golf course as much as possible.
Corporate Communications: Best life advice you’d like to share?
Kevin: We are given two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak!