As Hodges Warehouse + Logistics/Hodges Commercial Real Estate began adding more and more Korean clients and tenants, that created a new need: hiring someone with foreign language skills.
They found someone, Ena Park, who speaks both Korean and Chinese in addition to having a master’s degree in business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery. The company also added Korean and Chinese language websites.
“We have clients who are more comfortable speaking in their native languages,” said Paul Hodges, vice president/shareholder and real estate broker. “We are actively talking with Korean clients every week and there seems to be new business on the horizon.
Company officials are currently in negotiations with a steel supplier, Hodges said.
It’s just one example of Hodges identifying a growth area and seizing on the opportunities. With seven or eight suppliers to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama as clients, Hodges has capitalized on the fast-growing automotive sector. They have clients that also supply the Kia manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia.
It doesn’t end there. A current Hyundai supplier is expanding to also supply the Toyota and Nissan manufacturing plants in Mississippi and has asked Hodges to handle those operations. And Hodges handles a wide range of operations from providing all the services inside a warehouse, including personnel and equipment, to inventory management system and delivery. Hodges also leases to clients, who operate the facility themselves.
“We have developed commercial lots; sold lots; and built buildings for built-to-suit clientele,” Hodges said.
About 2½ years ago, Hodges, which has 150 commercial real estate properties, made a move into the residential real estate market. “We saw a niche in the Montgomery market, where $30 million worth of homes are bought and sold each month,” Hodges said. “And we weren’t participating in that. We recruited an agent that wanted to focus exclusively on residential real estate. We decided it might be a good opportunity, especially at the bottom of the market.”
Hodges partnered with Exit and Exit Hodges Real Estate was born. The company has sold about 100 homes since entering the residential market, according to Hodges.
Changing with the times and diversifying have been two of the reasons for the company’s success. Hodges actually started in the cattle auction markets and had a number of facilities in Texas and Louisiana before moving operations to Alabama. Montgomery was the first location in Alabama, with Hodges adding three other sites in the state.
The company invested some of the profits in real estate, buying an old cotton warehouse next to its Montgomery facility. “We rented out the building and acquired the adjacent building,” Hodges said.
That was the beginning of the warehouse operation. “Our niche has been to acquire older facilities that have been used for manufacturing or distribution and convert them into warehousing,” Hodges said.
Hodges has more than 4 million square feet of warehouse space, which is heavily concentrated in Montgomery. The company does have a 600,000-square-foot facility in Dothan and warehouse space in Prattville.
“We have excess space and we acquired it at very favorable prices over the years,” Hodges said. “As the market improves, we should be in a good position.”
The company has been successful because “we work to bring the functional capabilities of a large company to the clients we serve while maintaining the close customer service of a small company,” said Lance Hunter, CEO of Hodges Warehouse + Logistics. “Our relatively small staff is empowered to make decisions quickly and commit any of our resources.
“We think a huge part of our success is because we are lucky enough to be located in Montgomery, Alabama. There are so many institutions in this area that are willing and able to help small companies achieve big results.”