By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
As Hodges Warehouse + Logistics/Hodges Commercial Real Estate began adding more and more Korean clients and tenants, that created a new need: hiring someone with foreign language skills.
They found someone, Ena Park, who speaks both Korean and Chinese in addition to having a master's degree in business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery. The company also added Korean and Chinese language websites.
"We have clients who are more comfortable speaking in their native languages," said Paul Hodges, vice president/shareholder and real estate broker. "We are actively talking with Korean clients every week and there seems to be new business on the horizon.
Company officials are currently in negotiations with a steel supplier, Hodges said.
It's just one example of Hodges identifying a growth area and seizing on the opportunities. With seven or eight suppliers to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama as clients, Hodges has capitalized on the fast-growing automotive sector. They have clients that also supply the Kia manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia.
It doesn't end there. A current Hyundai supplier is expanding to also supply the Toyota and Nissan manufacturing plants in Mississippi and has asked Hodges to handle those operations. And Hodges handles a wide range of operations from providing all the services inside a warehouse, including personnel and equipment, to inventory management system and delivery. Hodges also leases to clients, who operate the facility themselves.
"We have developed commercial lots; sold lots; and built buildings for built-to-suit clientele," Hodges said.
About 2½ years ago, Hodges, which has 150 commercial real estate properties, made a move into the residential real estate market. "We saw a niche in the Montgomery market, where $30 million worth of homes are bought and sold each month," Hodges said. "And we weren't participating in that. We recruited an agent that wanted to focus exclusively on residential real estate. We decided it might be a good opportunity, especially at the bottom of the market."
Hodges partnered with Exit and Exit Hodges Real Estate was born. The company has sold about 100 homes since entering the residential market, according to Hodges.
Changing with the times and diversifying have been two of the reasons for the company's success. Hodges actually started in the cattle auction markets and had a number of facilities in Texas and Louisiana before moving operations to Alabama. Montgomery was the first location in Alabama, with Hodges adding three other sites in the state.
The company invested some of the profits in real estate, buying an old cotton warehouse next to its Montgomery facility. "We rented out the building and acquired the adjacent building," Hodges said.
That was the beginning of the warehouse operation. "Our niche has been to acquire older facilities that have been used for manufacturing or distribution and convert them into warehousing," Hodges said.
Hodges has more than 4 million square feet of warehouse space, which is heavily concentrated in Montgomery. The company does have a 600,000-square-foot facility in Dothan and warehouse space in Prattville.
"We have excess space and we acquired it at very favorable prices over the years," Hodges said. "As the market improves, we should be in a good position."
The company has been successful because "we work to bring the functional capabilities of a large company to the clients we serve while maintaining the close customer service of a small company," said Lance Hunter, CEO of Hodges Warehouse + Logistics. "Our relatively small staff is empowered to make decisions quickly and commit any of our resources.
"We think a huge part of our success is because we are lucky enough to be located in Montgomery, Alabama. There are so many institutions in this area that are willing and able to help small companies achieve big results." (Link)
Lance Hunter, CEO of Hodges Warehouse + Logistics announced a new cross docking operation as part of a supply chain solution for national retailers. Hodges will be consolidating shipments originating in the Southeastern United States in Montgomery, Alabama for shipment to regional distribution centers throughout the United States. Lance Hunter said, "This is a great opportunity for us to provide local facility and warehouse operations to support a national supply chain and multi-modal efficiency program. Operations will begin in August 25, 2012".
Paul Hodges, an owner and senior member of management announced that Hodges is beginning site selection for expansion into Mississippi. Paul announced, "We have been asked by a major client to provide warehouse and logistics support at two locations in Mississippi. We are extremely pleased to be able to expand regionally with a very important international client."
Lance Hunter, CEO of Hodges Warehouse + Logistics announced that the company has been selected as one of three finalists for the medium business award for the 2012 River Region Ethics in Business and Public Service Awards. The awards luncheon will be held on Monday, October 15, 2012 at Wynlakes Golf and Country Club and will feature Dan Cathy, President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-Fil-A as the luncheons featured speaker. Lance remarked. "We are pleased to be considered for this award, considering all the great things done by so many members of the Montgomery business community in public service and the high ethics we observe in our daily business activities in the River Region.
Michael Hodges of the Hodges Companies announced that Hodges Warehouse + Logistics, Inc. and Hodges Commercial Real Estate, Inc. are joining the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and over 40 other Central Alabama area businesses in celebrating and honoring Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and the Korean business community. The Hodges companies are Platinum Sponsors of the performance of Nanta, July 10, 2012 at the theater. Mike explained "We at Hodges are extremely grateful for what Hyundai, their suppliers and friends have done for our community. We are longtime supporters of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and are grateful for the way the theater has improved the quality of life in the River Region. What a great opportunity to celebrate two unique and wonderful parts of the evolving and diverse culture of the Central Alabama area."
Ena Piao, who assumed responsibility earlier this year for coordinating Hodges efforts to serve the Korean business community added, "I am happy that we are joining in the celebration of the Korean culture and community that does so much for all of us. The Korean automotive supply companies based in Central Alabama and Korea are vital to Hodges. We currently help six Korean industrial companies with their real estate needs and provide Central Alabama warehousing and logistics services to two others. Together they make up the largest concentration of business within Hodges. My job is to make sure we deliver the highest level of service to the Korean business community whether it is for leased commercial space or warehousing and logistics support. It is great to see this community celebrated in such a special way"
Paul Hodges, an owner and director of Hodges stated "The Festival's Celebration could not come at a better time. We have recently grown our team to keep in step with the community's growing importance in the area. We were very lucky to recently add Ena to our team. Ena's education, (she has a Master's of Business Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery), and native Korean language ability combine nicely with our years of real estate and warehouse experience to provide a useful service to this growing community. We are also thrilled to have a native Korean language residential agent, Jessica Lee, to broaden our services to this important part of the Central Alabama market."
Lance Hunter, CEO, feels the Korean business community has changed Montgomery for the better in more ways than just improved economic growth. "Sure, we are grateful for all the new business activity. And we are lucky at Hodges to have enjoyed financial benefits from the regional automotive industry growth. But Hyundai has stepped in and supported the efforts of fellow business members in the community to help everyone in our community. They have shown that a global player from a different culture can reach out to a local community half-a- world away from their home office. The support to the food bank announced this week is just the most recent example that started from the first announcement with support of local education. That support has included donations of everything from large checks to tennis shoes. We are just happy to be able to join many other companies in the community and The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in this well-deserved honor for Hyundai and the Korean business community."
Whitfield Foods, based in Montgomery Al recently received the Contract Manufacturer of the Year Award for excellence in productivity, cost control, quality and customer service from its primary customer, PepsiCo. Whitfield Foods is one of 64 PepsiCo Contract Manufacturers and produces Tropicana, Dole, Lipton, Sobe, Amp Energy, Gatorade and food service juices and drinks.
Jackie Greene, Hodges Warehouse Operations coordinator leading Hodges, Whitfield operations, commented, "We have enjoyed serving Whitfield with their PepsiCo account. Whitfield is another family owned company in Montgomery, Al (as is Hodges) and we have worked together for years. We are both proud to be locally owned but able to provide business services that exceed the expectations of globally competitive companies like PepsiCo."
Lance Hunter, CEO of Hodges Warehouse and Logistics, announced the hiring of Renhua (Ena) Piao to coordinate their international operations and support the finance and accounting operations of all of the Hodges Companies. "We feel extremely fortunate to find such a uniquely qualified person to help us in our financial area as well as improve the service we provide to our Chinese and Korean clients."
In addition to English, Ena speaks both Mandarin Chinese and Korean fluently. She will receive her Master in Business Administration from Auburn University Montgomery in Montgomery, Al in May of this year. Her undergraduate degree is a Dual Bachelor of Science degree from Troy University in Troy, Alabama and Beihua University in Jilin, China.
Ena commented "I am excited about gaining experience in the accounting field with a company where I can also use my Korean and Chinese cultural and language skills. I am grateful for all of the help Auburn University of Montgomery has provided in putting me in touch with the Hodges Team."
Hodges has many Korean owned or Korean based clients. The largest is Hankook Tires, based in Seoul, South Korea. Hodges handles central Alabama warehouse, distribution and logistics activities for Hankook.
Additionally, Hodges provides warehouse, distribution and logistics activities for Lizhong Wheel Group, LTD based in Baoding, Peoples Republic of China.
Lance added "We could not have found a more perfect match to help us serve Asian clients seeking to live or do business in the Central Alabama area."
Scott Kiker Associate Professor of Management at Auburn University Montgomery announced today that Hodges Warehouse & Logistics has been nominated for River Region Ethics Award. Factors considered in the nomination process
- Engagement of employees in volunteerism and community service
- Breadth and depth of support for charitable and philanthropic causes that is effective and meaningful given the mission and purpose of the organization
- Emphasis on employee health and/or safety
- Promotion of diversity within the organization
- Support sustainable use of organizational resources through education, financial support, and operational innovation
- Longstanding history and general reputation in the marketplace for ethical business practices
- Demonstrated ethical practices in the buyer/seller relationship
- Tone at the top of the organization that reinforces the importance of ethics.
- A culture and strong internal controls that support compliance with laws and regulations
Lance Hunter, CEO of Hodges commented, "We are extremely humbled and pleased to be considered for this award. So many fine companies within the River Region demonstrate charity and community support every day. We are always challenged by the generosity of others in the River Region business community and are glad just to share a bit in their efforts."
(see more information at Riverregionethics.com).
DAS North America, a Hyundai and Kia parts supplier is moving into the former Graham Packaging building at Interstate Industrial Park, a 150,000 square-foot facility. Initial plans are to hire 60 employees. Paul Hodges provided marketing and contract support to the landlord in the transaction.
The leased space will house the initial operations for DAS North America
DAS, which manufactures automotive seat components, will operate at the leased facility while building a new facility. The company will ultimately invest $50 million in the operation and create 210 jobs in the city. "This is great news for Montgomery that DAS decided to build its first North American manufacturing plant in Montgomery," Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said in the announcement. "We are grateful and appreciate that DAS picked Montgomery and we are thrilled about the new jobs."
Hodges Warehouse and Logistics announced today that it will be providing the warehouse and logistics support for Lizhong Wheels, LTD (Lizhong) in its new supplier relationship with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). Jackie Greene, Hodges Warehouse Operations coordinator for the project commented "After years of successfully serving suppliers of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama (HMMA), we are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand and serve KMMG, a sister company in Georgia. All of us are proud to be a small part of the production of these exciting and high quality automobiles. The global market success of KMMG, HMMA and Lizhong speak volumes about their dedication to quality and cost performance. Working with global companies like these help keep our eyes on the ball and maintain a high level of performance in the warehousing and logistics field."
Hodges Warehouse + Logistics is pleased to announce that it has been selected as the Alabama supply chain partner for Lishong Wheel Group Ltd. Beginning March 2012, Hodges will provide just-in-time transportation, delivery, warehousing, inventory management, and control in support of the Lizhong's Alabama automotive operations.
Lizhong Wheel, originated in 1995 and incorporated in Singapore, has 7 plants in China, one plant in Thailand as well as a US Sales company.
With the addition of Lizhong, Hodges Commercial Real Estate and Hodges Warehouse + Logistics provide continued services and support for 9 automotive supply companies in the Montgomery Alabama Area.
Hodges Warehouse + Logistics and Hodges Commercial Real Estate have announced a major expansion by Seungsan Pack USA at their Brockway Warehouse. Seungsan Pack has continued to expand its automotive operation and is now one of the largest tenants and plans continued expansion.
According to Michael Hodges, Leasing Manager for Hodges, "This has been a great partnership for both companies. Seungsan Pack USA initially needed a small amount of space for a start-up operation, but wanted the ability to expand as they grew their business. This is a perfect fit for our style of operation. They currently are using 10 times the initial space and their abilities to expand are still virtually unlimited."