CAPRE Q&A with Pete Marin, President & CEO of T5 Data Centers: Tech Must March Forward Through Good Times & Bad
by Josh Anderson
ATLANTA, GA — Pete Marin is President and Chief Executive Officer of T5 Data Centers, where he is responsible for setting the overall strategy of the firm, maintaining client relationships, capital management, and creating and executing the firm’s vision for growth. Pete has more than 20 years of experience in the data center sector ranging from development, securing debt and equity capital, to tenant representation including site selection and incentives. Pete’s understanding of end-user needs has enabled T5 Data Centers to reduce project cycle-time and cost, which leads to successful relationships, and repeat business. Prior to T5 Data Centers, Pete served as Executive Vice President at The Staubach Company where he started, managed, and lead the National Contact & Data Center Practice for 13 of his 14 years at the firm and was recognized on a regular basis for his many achievements. Before Staubach, Pete held various sales positions with Trammell Crow, MCI, and 3M Company.
CapRE: Thanks for chatting with us today, Pete. What has T5 been focused on lately?
Marin: We just finished our next building in Dallas, our Plano campus. The first phase of that was just delivered. We’re getting a lot of activity for that, for lease proposals. In Chicago, we are also building out turn-key space there in Elk Grove Village. We signed 2 leases in December there and are working on several more now. A lot of demand in Chicago is keeping us busy. There’s a lot of activity in Atlanta too – we are closing in on additional land there, west of town. We’re really trying to just keep up with growth across the portfolio.
CapRE: It really does seem like we’re in boom times, doesn’t it? Do you have any concerns about interest rates or the recent volatility in the stock market?
Marin: Well the stock market is the stock market, right? That doesn’t really dictate what we do day in and day out. It has implications, but the data center business keeps marching forward. You’ve got to continue to address the IT needs of corporate America. And you’ve got all types of corporations, whether they’re hyperscale users or the enterprise user. Everybody has IT needs and those IT needs don’t care about what the stock market is doing. So we are marching forward, through good economic times and bad economic times. IT needs don’t go away. It’s the heartbeat of every company. And people in IT make corporations work.
CapRE: Are there any challenges you are keeping any eye on?
Marin: Everybody is a little concerned about inflation. When we do look at the stock market, inflation is a concern because that means higher interest rates, which increases the cost of capital. But it doesn’t for all of us. It just causes us to adjust our pricing. Inflation is something you have to keep the pulse on. Maybe later this year or next, we might have some issues there.
CapRE: What trends are you most interested in or excited about on the technology side of things?
Marin: Well, the mega trends of the industry are connected devices, the Internet of Everything and the Internet of Things, driverless cars, etc. There are a lot of new applications that are going to be in traditional automobiles — like voice recognition software and other things — that will make our lives easier. Eventually we’ll get away from texting because voice recognition will be so good that we won’t need to text anymore. Hopefully, the issue of texting and riving will go away. So yeah, technology is really driving why we’re building all of this infrastructure.
I always remain excited about technological advances. And thinking more than a year out, the driverless car is going to be really a game-changer. And it’s going to really require a lot of compute and storage in the data center business. It’s really going to drive a lot of infrastructure builds. And the same thing with cloud computing – it’s just distributed computing. We’re using internet at the connection and the data center is where the computer is. And that phenomenon and those trends are nowhere near slowing down. That will require a lot of data center space.
CapRE: Last question. When it comes to the data center industry, what does it take to get ahead from the crowd?
Marin: It’s more than one thing. But if you have to boil it down to one, how do you win consistently more than your fair hare? In my opinion, it’s your people and your culture. They’re the core of your business. I think that we win — I know that we win — because we’ve got a great team and a great culture. That’s what it comes down to. If we keep building that team the way we’ve done it from day one, it’ll expand upon itself. Adding new locations and buildings becomes easy if you’ve got a great team and a great culture.
The bottom line is that this business is exciting. It’s always been fun to be in an industry that’s expanding at double-digit growth rates. That’s why we love it. It’s a lot of fun. We’re out there building something that has a real impact on the economy and people. We’re building what makes all of these connected thing work.
CapRE: Indeed. Thanks for your time, Pete.