Industrial Midwest

Get to know JLL's new SVP, Rob Wheeler and where he plans to adventure to next

Dog-Sledding-in-Steamboat-Springs
Dog Sledding in Steamboat Springs

Here's a tip--the next time you're out golfing, don't bother doing a double-take. That's not a young Bill Murray you just saw swinging the golf club, it's Rob Wheeler, senior vice president at JLL.

Here's a tip--the next time you're out golfing, don't bother doing a double-take. That's not a young Bill Murray you just saw swinging the golf club, it's Rob Wheeler, senior vice president at JLL, who is often told he looks just like the actor.

How do we know? Because when Wheeler isn't focusing on tenant representation and advisory services at the firm, he is usually found out on the golf course where he likes to spend his time off, so there's a pretty big chance you're more likely to run into him than Murray.

Oh, and then there's also the style. Murray is famously known for sporting the most eccentric clothing on the golf course, so this might be a major giveaway.

Wheeler, who recently joined the firm in June, admits that one day he hopes to meet the actor to get his thoughts on the physical resemblance.

In the meantime, Chicago Industrial Properties caught up with the new SVP to get to know him on a deeper level. In the following Q&A, Wheeler talks touring Denver during a trip to speak for the Chamber of Commerce, what he finds most challenging when it comes to CRE, and growing up in a small town.

Chicago Industrial Properties: Can you tell me about your role/ day-to-day responsibilities?

Rob Wheeler: I’m an industrial broker, but my main focus is the front-end portion of the real estate engagement. I have a supply chain background and I’m a logistician at heart. I thrive on understanding a business’s operation and bringing in resources to help a company make a world-class real estate decision. Real estate will never be the biggest line item on the budget of most companies, but it can enable or inhibit a company’s ability to drive profitability. Leading that discussion is my day-to-day focus.

CIP: What first attracted you to the industry?

Wheeler: The first 15 years of my career were with FedEx Corporation in various roles. While FedEx is an outstanding company and a wonderful place to work, ultimately almost all roads lead to Memphis. Being personally entrenched in Chicago, a large commercial real estate market, provided me the opportunity to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit and unique knowledge base. I had been helping people figure out where to put dots on the map for a while, so the move to commercial real estate allowed me to concentrate on the implementation portion of the site selection process. Plus, having a brother in the industry (Duke Realty in Dallas) telling me I was perfect for the job didn’t hurt either.

CIP: How did you get your start in the business?

Wheeler: One of the principals at Cresa Chicago and I were competitors on the golf course. We were having a conversation about one of his clients and their ongoing supply chain metamorphosis one day when he mentioned that he thought my work experience would play well in industrial real estate. Since Cresa was focused on growing its industrial business both locally and nationally, they asked me to join the firm to take on that task.

CIP: You’ve been at JLL for one month, what’s it like?

Wheeler: My month at JLL reminds me of my time spent at FedEx. It’s a customer-focused, team-oriented, collaborative culture with unmatched brand cache to support your business. I am looking forward to leveraging JLL’s global platform and resources, along with the valuable partnership of my local industrial teammates, for the benefit of our clients.

CIP: What has been your most memorable experience in CRE?

Wheeler: I spoke at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Denver a few years ago. While I was in town I received a helicopter tour of the city, a tour of Mile High Stadium and got to meet football legend John Elway

CIP: What do you consider one of the biggest challenges in CRE?

Wheeler: The funny side of me wants to say Caller ID, but the realist says time management. The ability to balance the demands of trying to continue to grow your personal book of business while also paying attention to the current pipeline of projects in various stages of completion. You have to stay balanced and focused on both sides of the equation.

CIP: On a more personal note, what do you like to do outside of work?

Wheeler: I’m a golfer. I have been since I was a child. So if I have the time to get out I’ll normally try to find a game, including when I’m on the road. If I don’t have the time it’s because I’m busy being a father to two daughters (13 and 11), a stepson (18) and stepdaughter (15) and a husband to Angie, an equestrian.

CIP: If you could meet someone famous who would it be?

Wheeler: Almost every time I’m in a social setting with strangers someone at the table will normally give me the “you look just like Bill Murray” line before the night is complete. I would like to meet Bill Murray just to see if he thinks I look like him.

CIP: What are you looking forward to this summer?

Wheeler: I always look forward to getting home to the Ozark Mountains in North Arkansas. I grew up in Harrison, Arkansas, which is a small town 25 miles south of Branson, Missouri. My parents still live there today. It’s fun to take my daughters down south to see a different world than the western suburbs.

CIP: One thing you’d like to do that you haven’t already done in your lifetime?

Wheeler: A friend of mine played Augusta National last fall and said it exceeded his lofty expectations, so that has to be number one on the list. My travels have never taken me to Australia and New Zealand and I’ve always wanted to see that side of the globe.