For Andreas Fleischer, today Co-Founder and Managing Partner of the logistics real estate developer DF Industrial Partners AG (DFI), everything initially pointed to a classic career as a civil engineer at the end of the 1990s. After successfully completing his studies in civil engineering, Fleischer entered the construction industry as planned and worked on the construction of residential buildings. However, life had other plans for the native of Castrop-Rauxel. By chance, Fleischer discovers an ad in the newspaper from the retail giant Lidl – they are looking for employees in the warehouse construction sector. Fleischer applies and starts an exciting professional phase.
“At Lidl, I was not only allowed to help plan European logistics projects and standards, but also to travel a lot. For someone starting out in his career, that’s a great thing, of course. I was also able to learn a lot,” says Fleischer. During this time, the real estate expert is accompanying the Neckarsulm-based retail company’s market entries in Denmark and Norway, among other things. Fleischer, however, does not want to feel completely satisfied.
“The construction of distribution centers was not a top-priority task at Lidl at the time. Accordingly, I looked elsewhere.” However, only as far as the employer was concerned – thematically, Fleischer already felt at home in the field of logistics real estate at that time. For a simple reason, as he says: “From the very beginning, I liked the honesty and authenticity that prevail in logistics. There is no superfluous ballyhoo – in the best sense, the people in charge there are ‘shirt-sleeved’ and hands-on. This sets logistics professionals apart from much of the real estate industry in a very positive way.” Fleischer also appreciates the diversity his job offers him. “Everything we consume or pick up was once in a warehouse. That offers enough potential for a whole professional life.”
Reason enough for Fleischer to apply to a Belgian logistics real estate developer in 2006. That’s when professional fate once again meant well for him. “Even before I could start my job there, the platform was taken over by a logistic company in Sydney Goodman. From my point of view, a real stroke of luck, because it meant more investment and also a different perspective.”
The change also means different times for himself. Because various managers are leaving the company, Fleischer, who was previously involved in technical implementation, is getting a chance to get a taste of logistics real estate sales. An area in which the manager immediately feels at home. That’s why he doesn’t hesitate when Goodman offers him to switch there completely. “In terms of content, consulting was immediately mine, I also noticed that I was good at it. On top of that, my experience in operational implementation meant I could always tell clients exactly what works and what might be rather difficult.”
At Goodman, however, Fleischer is not only able to develop professionally. He also survives the 2008 economic crisis there, a major blow to the logistics real estate industry. “Fortunately, Goodman had a good and goal-oriented strategy at the ready to quickly get out of crisis mode. This allowed us to quickly refocus on the essentials while others were still preoccupied with themselves,” he says. Goodman is taking advantage of this to kick off major projects in which Fleischer is also involved. “We started developing a lot for Amazon during that time, but also for Zalando and the automotive industry.”
Strengthened with a lot of experience, Fleischer set off again in 2014 for new career shores and moved to the British developer Segro, where he also immediately tackled new topics. Instead of large logistics centers on greenfield sites, the expert devoted himself to a trend that had received little attention at the time: the last mile. Urban logistics and how to implement it sensibly in terms of locations become his new hobbyhorse. “I was very happy that I was able to take up this topic for Segro at an early stage and establish it for the company. As a result, we were among the first to look at logistics buildings in urban areas,” explains Fleischer.
He has therefore devoted around four years to implementing these types of construction, until it is time once again for him to give his career a new twist. “In my heart, I have honestly always been more of an entrepreneur than an employee. My parents were both self-employed, so that had a big impact on me. Therefore, it was only a matter of time before I too raised something of my own.” For this important decision in his life, Fleischer is even taking a sabbatical – wanting to think carefully about what to do next. “It was very important for me to really clear my head and live outside of planning and reporting. During this time, I also spent a lot of time taking care of my family and, for example, remodeling our house on the outskirts of Düsseldorf,” explains Fleischer.
Social standards important
In 2019, the entrepreneur will then team up with Dr. Wolfgang Dietz, CEO of Dietz AG, to jointly develop logistics areas that are intended to be more than just big gray boxes on the edge of the highway. Even at this early stage, for example, social standards in construction play an important role for Fleischer. A topic that is turning into something much bigger for the manager. “Sustainability – it’s almost a non-word now – is the challenge of the future for me. Especially when it comes to logistics real estate. Overheated cities, increasing land consumption and the treatment of drivers and employees will keep us busy for a long time to come. The sooner we address these things with smart solutions, the better,” says Fleischer. For this reason, he is also involved in this topic on a voluntary basis – for example, as a board member of the Logistics Real Estate Initiative (Logix). “We need to develop a new type of logistics real estate that pays into our social goals – for example, the EU’s Green Deal. But the logistics real estate industry can only do this together. That’s why I want to call out to everyone, get involved and get thinking!”
In his own company, too, sustainability in all its aspects will therefore be the priority topic in the future. As in previous years, Andreas Fleischer is linking this goal with a small new beginning. Since spring 2021, he has been the sole shareholder of DF Industrial Partners AG. “The joint venture was a great thing and enriched me a lot. But now I am also happy to be able to make decisions on my own.”