Getting to Know New Chair Jeff Milanaik

Spring 2022 Issue
By: Jeff Milanaik

Jeff Milanaik

The success of any business or organization lies in its people. NAIOP members come together in countless ways to share, learn, advocate and do business, and NAIOP’s history shows that we provide real value at every level of member engagement. I’m excited to lead NAIOP in 2022, and I look forward to meeting so many of you as I visit chapters this year. Development magazine asked me to share my thoughts on our industry and association.

What are your goals as 2022 chair? 

This year, I believe we must inform and unify our members around NAIOP’s efforts to address legislative initiatives that could unduly impact the industry, hamper the post-pandemic economic recovery and hinder development. I also plan to extend NAIOP’s commitment to educate our members on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), as well as helping our members understand the importance of working toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Finally, I plan to reinforce the value proposition and strength of NAIOP membership, through both good times and bad. 

Why do you believe NAIOP members should be involved in advocacy efforts? 

We are navigating one of the most complex sets of political initiatives and agendas that I have seen in my lifetime. This is particularly true on the federal level, but also in local and state government. Our collective voice is so important, and I believe we can make a tremendous impact by working together, staying ahead of initiatives that could have an adverse effect our businesses, and making sure that our elected officials understand the value of a healthy commercial real estate industry that creates jobs and generates valuable revenue.

You are a longtime National Forums member. What’s the benefit of the program?

I was very excited when I was accepted into my National Forums group, and in many ways it validated my professional accomplishments to date. My Forums participation has helped me build terrific professional and personal relationships with the top leaders in my sector, industrial real estate. No other opportunity has allowed me to develop such close connections with the movers and shakers in our industry, and I’d recommend the program to anyone.

What can NAIOP do to prepare its members as we move into (hopefully!) a post-pandemic environment? 

The past few years have proven that NAIOP is both resilient and able to reinvent itself to serve our members during challenging times. Through its education programs, research, and strong advocacy at the state, provincial and federal levels, our members will be both well-informed and equipped to deal with the challenges we will face moving forward. 

Why do you find commercial real estate an engaging business?

I learned many years ago that the real estate industry has less to do with bricks and mortar — and everything to do with people. Working with best-in-class teams to solve complex real estate opportunities is one of the most challenging and exciting things I’ve ever done, and I look forward to doing it every day.

How long will industrial’s surge continue? 

Throughout my career, I have watched industrial real estate grow as a significant asset class. Well-located distribution centers in major markets will continue to be in demand to supply goods to densely populated geographic areas. Prior to the pandemic, we saw an increase in e-commerce. Since then, its growth has been explosive. This, combined with markets that I believe will stay in balance from a supply-and-demand perspective due to limited land availability, will benefit industrial real estate in 2022 and beyond. 

Jeff Milanaik, Partner, Northeast Region – 
Bridge Industrial
2022 NAIOP Chair

Let’s Get Personal

Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Years in the industry: 35
Years in current position: Eight years as Partner, Northeast Region – Bridge Industrial
Family: My wife, Judy, and I have been happily married for more than 40 years. We have four wonderful sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, one beautiful granddaughter and another grandchild on the way. Ironically, I never encouraged my sons to enter the real estate industry. Yet today all four are successful professionals in the field.
Last book read: “Leading in Tough Times” by John C. Maxwell
Best vacation spot: Anything with a beach!
Favorite out-of-the-office activity: Many, including snow skiing, motorcycles and sporting clays.
Industry mentors: In New Jersey real estate, two icons that come to mind are Ike Heller and Charles Klatskin.
Best words of wisdom you ever received: Leaders lead by example … and never think you are the smartest person in the room.
VIDEO: See Jeff Milanaik talk about NAIOP and his vision as chair.