When customers begin moving into the DHL Commerce Gateway in Dorchester County, South Carolina, in 2020, they’ll be doing more than merely occupying space near the Port of Charleston. Whether supply chain customers or not, customers will become part of a new logistics ecosystem where they can not only manufacture and take advantage of the many nearby transport options, but partner with DHL’s Real Estate Solutions group to manage all aspects of their property requirements in the region.
The three-building campus will be home to 1.7 million square feet of distribution and manufacturing space, with the first building, at 240,000 square feet, coming online in the first quarter of 2020. DHL Commerce Gateway, the result of a $100 million investment by DHL Supply Chain, sits on 125 rail-served acres in close proximity to Interstates 26 and 95 and Highway 78 near the Port of Charleston.
“We believe in the campus approach,” says Steve Hess, Vice President of Real Estate Development at DHL Supply Chain. “It means opportunities for clients to save money on shared labor and shared transportation. More importantly, we have in-house expert teams comprised of design people, operations people, transportation services, economic incentives, project management and development. All of those disciplines meet regularly to evaluate market by market where we need to be. We look at all of those areas and we grade them and come away with a very holistic view of location-making decisions. It’s unique to the logistics industry, and certainly the real estate industry.”
Why Charleston? “South Carolina Ports Authority is seeing significant distribution center and warehousing activity in our region, driven by port users who rely on our marine and inland facilities to handle growing import volumes bound for consumers across the Southeast,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO, at DHL Supply Chain’s April announcement. “DHL Supply Chain will play an important role in supporting the logistics needs of multiple port-related business segments, and we look forward to the opening of their new facility.”
DHL Real Estate Solutions (RES) is a strategic product of DHL and the logistics industry’s largest developer of property solutions. The integrated approach provides customers a single point of contact ensuring that building design, racking and building systems are all coordinated at the onset of the design process, resulting in smoother transitions when operations commence. RES is a global developer, providing both customers and non-supply chain customers with their individually tailored real estate solutions.
Giving Clients a Sense of Place
“I am not aware of any other logistics companies that have made the investment in Real Estate Solutions like DHL has,” says Hess. “The reason we’ve done that is because we’ve listened to the customers, who like a bundled solution — one point of contact instead of 30. The customer has driven us in this direction.”
Dorchester County clients won’t be the first to have benefitted from DHL’s turnkey approach to siting logistics and other real estate facilities. In Memphis, it has a site dedicated to the life sciences sector, where clients consider late drop-offs at the FedEx air hub to be of critical importance. Proximity to FedEx was a given as a location criterion, but seven-minutes-away proximity emerged as a critical criterion to a main client in a highly time-sensitive niche of the life sciences sector thanks to the broader, turnkey approach the real estate solutions team took. That location now can benefit other clients with similar logistics demands.
Back in South Carolina, says Hess, he reminds prospective customers that DHL Supply Chain is already working with the Port Authority, with the county, with Norfolk Southern Railroad. “We went back to everyone that we met along the way as we investigated this property and said, ‘Look, we need to make this a team approach. We’ve got to be able to leverage off the fact that DHL has shown up in this market. Others are going to take notice. So, let’s work together to make Dorchester a place.’ It’s not about a site plan. It’s not about a floor. We have to create a place. To do that, we just have to link all the components together.”
Bottom line, says Hess: “Yes, we’re going to build a building, we’re going to lease it to one of our clients, or lease it to ourselves for a client. But we’re looking for that new idea that really helps create a long-term place for the client as soon as possible.”
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of DHL Supply Chain. For more information, please visit logistics.dhl.com.