Students from both the undergrad and MBA programs gathered in a classroom at UNC Kenan-Flagler to listen to a talk by Leonard Wood (MBA ’72) and Chris Cole. Mr. Wood, founder of Wood Partners LLC in Atlanta, asked a series of targeted questions to Mr. Cole in an interview-style panel discussion. Students listened in as Mr. Wood’s longtime business partner Chris Cole offered advice that has led to his success. Mr. Cole emphasized the importance of finding the right business partner, which he believes is someone who you can trust above all else, a sentiment echoed by Mr. Wood.
Mr. Cole also walked the audience through the genesis of one of his funds, Cole Credit Property Trust (CCPT), which Mr. Wood was a voting board member of. CCPT, a subsidiary of Cole Real Estate Investments, was a non-publicly traded REIT and at one time was one of the largest REITs in the world, with a market cap of over $10B.
At its peak, CCPT was able to raise over $100M per month and set the incredible pace of one acquisition per day. Mr. Cole credited these incredible numbers to the amazing people at CCPT who worked tirelessly to make the company a success. CCPT’s strategy was to find creditworthy, industry-leading net lease tenants – typically Walgreens and Wal-Mart – who would sign a long-term lease. Cole Real Estate Investments has since been acquired by American Realty Capital Partners, bringing its portfolio to 3,732 properties and a value of around $21.5B.
It was wonderful to have Leonard Wood, a longtime friend of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s real estate program – for whom the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies is named – and Chris Cole speak. All students in attendance were grateful for the opportunity to hear how these two titans of the industry have achieved so much in real estate. Their advice and guidance will go a long way as this group of future real estate leaders makes its way into the industry.
By Stuart Kessler (MBA ’16)