The FORT Podcast: Levi Benkert – Founder & CEO of Harbor Capital – Building a Class B Industrial Empire in Texas
Levi Benkert is a proven innovative business leader with 20 years of experience in strategic real estate-related business development. Levi founded Harbor Capital, a private equity firm focused on industrial real estate in Texas. Levi has leveraged his skills to identify unique opportunities, maximize growth, raise capital, and create a lasting vision for companies that he has founded and led. Levi has bought, managed, and developed over $450M in real estate properties in his career.
On this episode, Chris & Levi discuss:
➡️ Lessons learned during the 2008/2009 Great Financial Crisis
➡️ Story of moving to Ethiopia to build an orphanage and several businesses
➡️ Why he chose to focus on Class B Industrial throughout Texas
➡️ How Harbor underwrites deals and structures their real deals
➡️ Discussion on current real estate market
(00:04:44) Levi’s career in home building through the GFC
(00:22:06) Building an orphanage & 4 different businesses in Ethiopia
(00:33:40) Building Harbor Capital with a focus on Class B Industrial
(00:36:06) Levi’s focus within Class B Industrial
(00:46:21) Doing a deal in Katy, TX that ended up being next to the Tesla Factories
(00:52:02) Insights on the Houston & San Antonio markets
(00:56:07) “Buy, Refi, Die.” – Long-term holds
(00:57:46) Harbor and Fort Capital’s future plans
(01:06:36) Harbor’s organizational structure
In a recent enlightening episode of Chris Powers’ podcast, the audience was treated to the insights of Levi Benkert, a recognized figure in the real estate domain. Benkert, known for his deep understanding of the intricacies of infrastructure development and urban planning, shared his perspectives on several pressing topics that resonate with industry enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Levi Benkert brings to the table a rich tapestry of experience, particularly in the realm of real estate development in burgeoning urban areas. His insights, drawn from hands-on encounters and strategic ventures, make him an invaluable voice in discussions on urban growth, infrastructure, and the delicate balance between development and preservation.
A significant portion of the conversation revolved around Houston’s impressive strides in infrastructure development. The city, as Benkert and Powers discussed, has been proactive in its approach, with massive investments earmarked for port enhancement. With an eye on the future, Houston’s initiatives are aligned with the anticipated surge in port traffic in the southeastern U.S., further fueled by onshoring trends and the burgeoning trade with Mexico.
Benkert also highlighted the strategic advantage of cities like San Antonio, with its proximity to the Mexican border. This closeness presents lucrative opportunities, especially in the trade of goods like car parts. The two-way flow between the U.S. and Mexico, facilitated by such geographically advantageous cities, underscores the economic potential waiting to be tapped.
Diving deeper into specific regions, El Paso emerged as a focal point of the discussion. Powers, reminiscing about his hometown, painted a picture of a city on the cusp of significant growth. Real estate opportunities, past and present, were dissected, with both Benkert and Powers acknowledging the dynamism of the market in areas like El Paso and Laredo.
However, amidst the discussions of growth and development, Benkert introduced a note of caution. He emphasized the importance of preserving a city’s soul. Rapid urbanization, while economically beneficial, runs the risk of eroding the cultural and historical fabric of a city. Balancing commercial interests with the preservation of a city’s essence emerged as a central theme of their dialogue.
An intriguing detour in their conversation led them to the world of social media, particularly Twitter. The recent acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk served as a backdrop for speculations about the platform’s future. Benkert and Powers deliberated on the potential evolution of Twitter into a multi-functional ‘super app,’ drawing parallels with some dominant apps in the Chinese digital ecosystem.
As they navigated the realms of real estate, urban development, and even technology, Benkert’s insights were complemented by Powers’ probing questions, creating a dialogue rich in content and perspective.
In conclusion, this episode of Chris Powers’ podcast, featuring Levi Benkert, stands as a testament to the multifaceted nature of real estate discussions. From infrastructure and urban planning to the challenges of preserving cultural integrity, the conversation spanned a wide spectrum. For industry professionals, urban planners, and real estate enthusiasts, this episode offers a treasure trove of insights, making it an essential listen.
The FORT Podcast with Chris Powers is a place where you can find meaningful conversations about entrepreneurship, real estate, investing, and more.
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