Michael Dermody | CEO of Dermody Properties
Michael Dermody has led the growth of Reno-based Dermody Properties from a local developer to a national owner-operator of industrial real estate properties across the United States.
Born in Reno, Michael studied at schools in Switzerland and France, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and earned his law degree from Gonzaga University.
He joined the family company in 1976 and became president and chief executive officer in 1983.
Under his leadership, Dermody Properties established partnerships with institutions such as CalPERS and CalSTRS to develop a national portfolio. The company sold its 25-million-square-foot portfolio to Prologis in 2007 and returned to its entrepreneurial roots. Today, working with development partners across the nation, Dermody Properties has developed more than 45 million square feet of industrial space.
Michael also has established an outstanding track record as a generous and effective philanthropist.
In 1985, he established The Children’s Cabinet, a nonprofit that serves 8,000 at-risk families in northern Nevada each year. He was a founder in 1998 of Sage Ridge School, an independent secondary school in Reno.
The Dermody Properties Foundation, which was established in 1998, is managed entirely by employees of the company and benefits the communities in which the company does business. Ten percent of the company’s ownership is dedicated to charity.
Michael Dermody develops more than industrial properties. He develops stronger communities.
He answers our questions:
Our business model today includes acquisition as well as new construction.
On the new-development side of the business, we’re very focused on e-commerce and omni-channel distribution space for retail companies. I’m proud to say that we’re recognized as one of the industry leaders in this sector of the market. We just completed a 900,000-square-foot distribution center near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for Wayfair, one of the world’s largest online destinations for the home. E-commerce is very exciting, and we’ve worked with major companies across the country — Amazon, Urban Outfitters and Gamestop, to name a few.
It is also important to understand that while e-commerce is state-of-the-art today, we still maintain the majority of our business serving traditional distribution customers, as we have throughout the company’s history. It really depends on what a particular customer wants in a particular location, and real estate is, at the end of the day, a local business. That’s why we focus on markets we know and in which we have experience.
On the acquisition side, our focus is to obtain properties where we can add value. At the heart, Dermody Properties is both an owner and an operator of real estate. This strategy provides us with the opportunity to capitalize on specialized knowledge we have developed in each of our core markets. We carefully vet those buildings, and we are very conservative. It is especially satisfying to bring new life and value to older buildings that meet the needs of our customers.
As I mentioned, this is one of the most exciting elements of our business these days. Customers in the e-commerce sector bring some very specific requirements — greater clear heights, increased space for truck parking and very secure environments — so it’s satisfying to meet their specific needs and deliver creative, cost-effective solutions.
In addition, e-commerce projects also have much in common with traditional distribution, which is the majority of our business. They both need a good labor market. They both are focused on serving the customer as quickly as possible. Dermody Properties has always excelled at locating land and creating buildings to meet the particular needs of our customers. As a side note, because all of us at Dermody Properties are customers of the e-commerce revolution, we understand well the importance of that industry’s focus on “last mile delivery.”
It’s the same company serving the logistics industry, but with a sharper focus.
We have a well-respected and seasoned leadership team under the guidance of Doug Kiersey, the president of Dermody Properties. Doug brings more than 30 years of experience and skills in capital formation, development, acquisition, management and marketing. He leads a team of nationally recognized regional partners responsible for development and acquisition in their respective markets across the United States. We’re a band of brothers. We're all veterans of the business who knew that we didn’t want to be part of a large company, which can sometimes let processes get in the way of customer service. Doug has built an exceptional team of people who have executed beyond my wildest expectations. It’s a lot of fun. So much fun, in fact, that I plan to keep doing this for many years to come.
I would make it longer — especially with this team.
If you are fortunate enough to be in business, it is your responsibility to give back to the communities and the people where you have done business.
I have discovered that a strong business platform provides an entrée to a strong philanthropic platform, and they are very complementary. We work every day with outstanding companies who provide employment for families. That experience provides invaluable insight to the needs of families in the communities in which we do business — insight that we probably couldn’t get if we were not in business.
For me, business is all about our communities and making those communities stronger through philanthropy.