The FORT Podcast: Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the President of Hillwood, one of the top industrial, commercial, and residential real estate developers in the country. He has been the leader of development efforts in AllianceTexas, one of the largest global logistics hubs in the world. They discuss how Alliance developed from concept to reality, the future of transportation for both people and freight in the next decade, autonomous vehicles, and buying your home online. This is one of our most fascinating episodes—enjoy!

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03:25 — Mike’s Journey Before Hillwood
08:00 — The Story of Hillwood
10:40 — Creation of AllianceTexas
16:00 — Could something like this deal ever come together in today’s world?
18:27 — What is a foreign trade zone, and how do you get a foreign trade zone designation?
22:00 — Was the AllianceTexas vision originally to become a city?
25:40 — Growth of Mike’s Leadership
29:36 — Alliance’s Mobility Innovation Zone (This is really, really cool!)
36:09 — Why DFW/Hillwood Offers a Better Testing Site
39:25 — Freight & Human Capital in Autonomous Driving/Vehicles
43:23 — What is it like to be inside these forward-thinking businesses, like Amazon?
48:09 — What is something you would say the world will have in 10 years that people will find shocking?
50:39 — Talent at Hillwood
52:31 — New Trends in Residential Living
1:00:16 — How have you been able to balance work and your family?
1:01:50 — What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
1:05:03 — Mike’s Role Models
1:08:09 — Picking Sides & Effort to Build a Building
1:11:40 — The NextDoor Analogy: Determining Market Demand & Slowing the Process

Episode Summary

The conversation commenced with Berry introducing a visionary concept for urban mobility, revolving around Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) vehicles. He painted a vivid picture of a future where individuals could seamlessly transition from ground vehicles to VTOLs, optimizing their travel routes and significantly reducing commute times. This innovative approach to transportation is poised to have a profound impact on real estate development and urban planning, necessitating a reimagining of infrastructure and space utilization.

Berry provided a unique perspective on the pivotal role of the Perot family in Texas, highlighting their deep-seated relationships across various sectors and their unwavering commitment to the state’s development. He reflected on the advantages these connections afforded, emphasizing the significant legacy of Mr. Perot in shaping Texas’ real estate landscape. This part of the discussion underscored the unique nature of the opportunities presented to the Perot family, casting doubt on the feasibility of replicating such monumental real estate endeavors in today’s context.

Diving deeper into the realm of urban transportation, Berry elaborated on the potential of VTOL technology to revolutionize city commuting. He envisioned air taxis becoming an integral part of urban mobility, facilitated by platforms like Uber and potentially other service providers and original equipment manufacturers. This foresight highlights the potential of VTOL technology to reshape urban landscapes, offering a solution to reduce traffic congestion and transform how people navigate city environments.

Transitioning to the topic of real estate, particularly logistics and fulfillment centers, Berry discussed the complexities and imminent transformations in this domain. He emphasized the need for adaptability in real estate design to accommodate evolving technologies such as autonomous trucks and drones. The integration of these innovations is set to impact various aspects of logistics, from truck courts and dock doors to inventory management systems, necessitating a proactive approach to real estate planning and development.

In a more personal part of the conversation, Berry shared significant milestones in his family life, expressing gratitude towards his wife, Marilyn, for her unwavering support. He highlighted the indispensable role of family support in balancing a demanding career with personal responsibilities, providing listeners with a glimpse into his life beyond real estate.

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