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Industrial Real Estate in Mexico with Rafael McCadden

by | May 4, 2024

Rafael McCadden
Executive Director for Industrial and Logistics
Colliers International
Mexico City, D.F. Mexico

LATAM FDI: Today, we have Rafael McCaden with us. Rafael is the Executive Director for Industrial and Logistics with Colliers in Mexico. Good morning, Raphael. How are you today? Could you tell us about yourself and your company?

Rafael McCadden: Hi, Steve. Good morning. Thanks for this podcast. Of course, I’ve been in real estate most of my life, but industrial now, I would say, for almost 30 years. I started as the Executive Director of the Mexican NAIOP, which is called AMPIP, and then with Colliers for almost 20 years now.

LATAM FDI: Wow. For those who don’t know, AMPIP is the Mexican Maquiladora Association. Is that correct

Rafael McCadden: No. AMPIP is the Developers Association.


Rafael McCadden: Yes. So, it’s more like NAIOP. Right.

LATAM FDI: Well, some key factors drive demand for industrial real estate in Mexico, given the country’s current landscape. What are those key drivers, Rafael?

Rafael McCadden: Yes. Well, I would say one of the key drivers right now is nearshoring, which is unshoring or friend shoring. It has so many different names now, but it’s the same thing. I would say that the global manufacturing supply chain has changed its course, and now it’s not as global as it used to be for many reasons. Regionalization is the new game. Of course, Mexico, being part of North America, plays a huge role in this, I would say, in many sectors. We’re busier than ever

LATAM FDI: Given this economic landscape, how does the availability of skilled labor influence the location decisions of companies that look to occupy industrial real estate in Mexico for manufacturing purposes?

Rafael McCadden: Great question. Well, you see, there are, I would say, important differences between the workforce in the US and Mexico. For one, if you start looking closely into the average age of engineers or the average age of the population, in the United States, baby boomers are in their late ’60s. The baby boomer generation in Mexico is in its late ’20s. That’s a huge difference. I say it because even though Mexico has pyramids, it’s a young country. The average age is 29 years. That’s a huge advantage. This has resulted in many US and European companies switching to Mexico. This, of course, has positive implications for industrial real estate in Mexico.  Also, design and technical centers are becoming more prevalent. Believe it or not, Mexico graduates the same number of engineers with a population of 130 million as the US with a population of over 350 million. So That tells you how many graduates and how many young students are looking to get a job in Mexico

LATAM FDI: Yes. That seems to be something that many people I speak with comment upon: the availability of good, skilled labor in Mexico. But beyond that, what role do government policies and regulations relations play in shaping the growth and development of the market for industrial real estate in Mexic

Rafael McCadden: The government doesn’t always help the business develop. I can put it that way. But I would say that the trends surpass that big time. Some governments have a more active role, especially state governments. I would say the federal government took a different path by shutting down Promexico, which was a government investment agency. But regardless of that, the trends are helping Mexico. Let me stop here a minute and tell you something that I’ve been, I would say, analyzing, and that is what we started talking about regionalization. Supply chain disruptions are playing a huge role in Mexico’s success. Supply chain disruption, as an example, we can mention the tsunami in 2011 in Fukushima, Japan. So, some people say, What does that have to do with Mexico? And I said, More than you think, Because the auto industry, especially tier one and tier two assembly plants, had to shut down because of the suppliers being affected by the tsunami. And so, some of the largest OEMs, Japanese OEMs, said, This will not happen again. I can’t keep having all the eggs in one basket. So, they started expanding their operations to occupy industrial real estate in Mexico.

LATAM FDI: So, after 2011, more than 300 Japanese auto industry companies, including OEMs like Mazda, Honda, and Nissan, moved to occupy industrial real estate in Mexico in the Bahia region. That played a huge role in that area’s industrial development. Then, as we all know, COVID-19 was a huge game changer in terms of supply chain disruptions. Now, newer supply chain disruptions like the Red Sea, the Panama Canal, and the Baltimore Bridge were torn down. These supply chain disruptions are helping Mexico, which has a 2,000-mile border with the US with 55 border crossings.

LATAM FDI: Concerning border crossing and other investments in Mexico, specifically infrastructure, including transportation and utilities, how does Mexico’s state of development in this area contribute to the attractiveness of locations for industrial real estate in Mexic

Rafael McCadden: Well, being very honest, this tsunami that hit Mexico, which is nearshoring, has challenged our utilities, infrastructure, and transportation. I would also say the developers are trying to play catch-up because we were hit by an unexpected demand for industrial real estate in Mexico. Let me give you an example: Never before has Monterey had over 30 buildings for industrial real estate in Mexico under construction, which they do have today. That tells you the roles that the developers are playing. Developers who weren’t even in the sector, those who were in office development or shopping centers, are moving and putting a lot of interest into the industrial market. They can see that industrial real estate development in Mexico will continue with this trend for a few years. So yes, it’s really interesting to see how also US developers that didn’t care much about Mexico, like Panettoni, for example, they were mainly concentrated on Eastern Europe and other places in the world now are saying, Hey, I’m more interested about Mexico than I was three years or five years ago

LATAM FDI: Getting a view and handle on the physical types of construction you just mentioned, are there any emerging trends in the design and construction of industrial real estate in Mexico

Rafael McCadden: I would say yes. For one thing, industrial buildings are much more environmentally friendly in many ways. So ESG… To give one example. The structures were not typically designed to hold solar panels. Developers didn’t design buildings that could hold them. Now, most developers are designing better structures that can hold solar panels, sprinklers, and HVAC units. That’s one thing. Then power is a huge issue, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re putting in solar panels. And, of course, clear height, that’s another thing. The distribution centers are being more automated than before. So, the requirement for power keeps growing and growing. Because everything that’s being brought into the buildings requires more power. And so, it’s not only on manufacturing, it’s also on distribution centers. Plus, truck fleets now also require charging stations. Those are the trends we can see in the evolution of industrial real estate in Mexico.

LATAM FDI: Can you provide some answers and insight into the competitive landscape of industrial real estate in Mexico? Maybe give us the names of major developers and operators in Mexico, including key players in market dynamics.

Rafael McCadden:  Sure, of course. Well, Prologis, besides being a major global industrial park developer and owner in the US and the world, is also a major player in Mexico. It’s interesting because even though they’re number one, they are focused mainly on six cities. They are concentrated in three border cities: Guadalajara, Monterey, and Mexico City. There are other developers, such as CPA, Amistad, Finsa, and Macquarrie. REITs in Mexico are only 10 years old. So, we didn’t have reeds in the past. Most of the industrial portfolios were owned by the developers. Once REITs were authorized and they had some tax advantages for investors, many insurance companies and retirement funds started investing in industrial real estate in Mexico. The portfolio has changed hands and is now mainly controlled by investment funds, which we call Fibras in Mexico, but it’s the same thing as in the US.

LATAM FDI: Well, Raphael, you’ve provided great information for our listeners. We intend to do this with each discussion with experts like yourself. We want to provide your contact information so that anybody with questions about what they’ve heard can reach you. How would somebody contact you with further questions?

Thank you. Sure. Well, my email is rafael.mccadden@colliers.com. Of course, they could also reach out through LinkedIn. That would be a good way to contact me, and I would say it would be the easiest way to reach out.

LATAM FDI: Thank you for joining me today to discuss industrial real estate in Mexico. This has been very interesting. We’ll put a link to your LinkedIn profile in the transcript section of the page on which the blog post is posted, and we’ll include your email and Collier’s URL for its website. How’s that

Rafael McCadden: Great. I like it. Thank you. Have a great day. It’s not just me, it’s a team. We work throughout Mexico, from Tijuana down to Cancun. We’re constantly traveling and helping companies do soft landings in industrial real estate in Mexico.

LATAM FDI: Well, that’s great. Hopefully, listeners will call you, and you’ll be able to get some new business.

Rafael McCadden:  I appreciate it, Steve. Thank you so very much.



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