In his own words: Doug Roberts of Panattoni Development

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company.

Doug Roberts: Panattoni Development Company is based in Sacramento and was established in 1986. The company has 22 offices across the country, two in Canada and several in Europe. From say 2004 through 2008, we averaged about 10,000,000 square feet of new development in the United States. We are primarily an industrial developer and specialize in large, so-called "big box" buildings located in mostly major urban markets. The company builds office and retail development as well.

NNBW: What role do you play in the company?

Roberts: I am an owner of each asset we develop and therefore it is incumbent on me to be very hands on and watchful over the entire development process as well as management of the asset after it is constructed. There isn't a single part of the development process that I am not responsible for, although I am likely to delegate some portions of the process to others.

NNBW: How did you get into this profession?

Roberts: I was working for the Sacramento Local Conservation Corps, a nonprofit youth training program, in 1989 and was involved in a public-private venture in Sacramento. I became acquainted with the developer involved in that project and I asked that he keep me in mind should anything open up within his company. He called me in the summer of 1989 and offered me a position as their purchasing manager for their construction division. I learned the process through the "sink-or-swim" approach, and I somehow caught on quickly and learned each aspect of the process from the ground up.

NNBW: What is something no one knows about your job?

Roberts: Although development is primarily a local business, a good national view and presence is very important. Over the past 20 years, I have seen more and more national developers dominate the business as they have both the capital and tenant relationships that are critical to success. Even given the national companies, knowing the local market and the local real estate brokers is crucial.

NNBW: If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?

Roberts: Rock musician. I played professionally during college and for a few years afterwards. The life style wasn't conducive, for me anyway, with family life. I still play and enjoy it but other interests became more important.

NNBW: What do you like to do when you're not working?

Roberts: Spending time with family, in particular skiing, water sports, hiking, coaching football, playing music, physical fitness.

NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?

Roberts: This is a very hard time to enter any aspect of the real estate business. If one is set on the profession, be sure to learn every aspect of the business. Developers who excel understand all the facets of real estate development from land acquisition, construction, leasing, finance, underwriting and property management.

NNBW: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why would you want it?

Roberts: The ability to travel through time. I would enjoy experiencing other periods in history to truly understand what life was like during other eras.

NNBW: What person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with, and why?

Roberts: Dwight Eisenhower. He seems like the epitome of "walk softly and carry a big stick." His role in World War II then as the President of the United States would make for a fascinating conversation.

NNBW: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Roberts: Do what you say you are going to do.

NNBW: What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?

Roberts: There is great variety in my job - in terms of the very different aspects of the development process as well as the variety of tenants we work with on a daily basis. For example, having worked with from the early days of the company to building a manufacturing business for spas, the breadth of knowledge to be gained from these projects is immense.

NNBW: What five words would most people use to describe you?

Roberts: A fair and affable person.

The basics:

Name: Doug Roberts, senior vice president/project principal, Panattoni Development

How long have you been in this job? 15 years

How long in the profession? 20 years

Education: B.S. from Iowa State - majored in sociology

Best book you've read? "Band of Brothers"

What's on your iPod? Everything from Copland to AC/DC

The best movie ever? "Dumb and Dumber"

Spouse, kids or pets? Wife Shirley, kids Nikki, Jennifer, Breanna and Patrick, two dogs, a bird, and a guinea pig


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