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It Takes a Team: The Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers industrial team dominates the local market by combining its strengths to best serve clients It Takes a Team: The Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers industrial team dominates the local market by combining its strengths to best serve clients
Nothing has changed the landscape more in Southwest Florida over the past few years than the growing number of large industrial warehouse buildings dotting... It Takes a Team: The Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers industrial team dominates the local market by combining its strengths to best serve clients

Nothing has changed the landscape more in Southwest Florida over the past few years than the growing number of large industrial warehouse buildings dotting the Interstate 75 corridor. The rise of e-commerce and migration to the area have played a role in Southwest Florida’s transformation from a tertiary market that wasn’t on anyone’s radar to a strong emerging market similar to Boise or Austin that many national developers and capital institutions want to have in their portfolios.

“We’ve had just a tremendous amount of people that have moved here and are still moving here,” says Derek Bornhorst, SIOR, CCIM, president/principal and a founding member of commercial brokerage firm Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers. “The last two years we have seen record-breaking absorption, with more than 2 million square feet of industrial space absorbed each year. We are on track to continue this pace for 2024, with more than 500,000 square feet absorbed in the first quarter of 2024.

“The rise of e-commerce has increased the demand for industrial warehouses across the country, including in Southwest Florida,” he continues. “With more consumers shopping online, retailers and logistics companies require additional warehouse space to store inventory and fulfill orders efficiently.”

Just as remarkable as the growth of Southwest Florida’s industrial sector is the dominance of Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers on the listings side of the equation. There are currently 11 buildings totaling 3.125 million square feet of Class A industrial space that have recently been completed or are under construction in Lee County alone, and the Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers industrial team has all 11 buildings listed for lease. There may not be any other place in the United States where one team controls that percentage of the market.

“The Lee & Associates team is the premier industrial team in Southwest Florida,” says Malcolm Butters, CEO of Butters Group and developer of Gulf Landing Logistics Center in Fort Myers. “Their depth of knowledge about the market is unparalleled, and working with any other team would be incomprehensible.”

The question is, who are these guys? Let’s peek behind the curtain to learn more about the team and why it’s seen such success.


To understand how the Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers industrial team operates, one needs to look at the team as a whole, not just a collection of each person’s set of skills. The team works together to provide a client-centric approach that helps gain clients’ trust – and their business.

The original members of the team have been working together for more than 20 years, giving them a strong understanding of both the local market and each other. “It comes down to the interconnectivity of working together for that long,” says Bob Johnston, SIOR, cofounder and president/principal at Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers. “I would say our success came as everyone found a role they excelled in. But more than that, it came down to the team’s soul, to knowing our larger purpose. We are constantly looking at how the team can work together to add value for our clients and offer advice with their best interests at heart. And our results demonstrate that our approach to brokerage works.”

“The Southwest Florida Lee & Associates industrial team is one of the best leasing teams I have ever dealt with,” says Peter Mork, managing partner of Capital Partners and developer of Alico Logistics Center in Fort Myers. “Their market knowledge is exceptional, and their experience in handling simple to complex transactions is impressive. Most importantly, they all possess a high level of integrity, which gives me great comfort knowing I am hearing the truth, whether or not I like it, when it comes to making important leasing decisions for my property and my investors.”

“We understand what some of the hot-button issues are for the tenants and what side of town they want to be in,” says Derek Bornhorst. “We also look at it from the ownership side of things: If we were out there signing on that dotted line for that mortgage, what would we want to be happening? Do we feel good about the project and what’s being built and the design of it? People look to us for what’s needed; they lean on us for that insight for the local market.”

That expertise is backed up by a wealth of data, which is the domain of Frank V. Martone, Esq., who serves as senior transaction coordinator for Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers.

“A lot of our clients right now require data for reporting to their investors and stakeholders,” says Martone. “How I’ve been playing a role on the team is making sure we collect as much data as we can on the market. We’re finding that a lot of entities right now, especially a lot of our clients who are working in development, need all this data to make sure that they’re making all the right decisions and maximizing value for their shareholders and investors.”

“Data is hugely important to the value our team adds for clients,” says Adam Bornhorst. “All these developments come with capital partners, and their capital partners need to see the data-driven information that Frank does a really good job of compiling. Without the data, there wouldn’t be any developments because they wouldn’t get the capital partners.”

The comprehensive data that the Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers team can provide helps developers and investors feel confident about entering the Southwest Florida market. “When developers are from out of state – and the capital and the lenders – they are relying on us to provide them with accurate, upto- date, real-time data,” says Johnston.

Adam Bornhorst serves as the team’s outreach guy, cold calling potential tenants and working with existing tenants. “It’s mostly trying to select and understand who the good tenants for the projects would be and reach out to them,” he says.

Years of practice have helped him hone his skills. “You learn what works and what doesn’t,” he says. “It’s more of an art than it is a science. And being part of a team with the productive guys that we have allows me the time to focus on this part of the role.”

“The Lee & Associates industrial team has been instrumental in the success of Tri-County 75,” says Mickey Stefan, principal of Glenstar and developer of Tri-County 75 in Fort Myers. “No one knows the market and sees more tenants than their team. Because of their dedication, just a few months post-delivery, we reached 82% leased with only top-tier tenants.”

In addition to data, Martone also specializes in deal management to ensure that all deals move as smoothly as possible. “We have a lot of projects, a lot of clients and a lot of deals going on at the same time,” he says. “Having someone to stay on top of that is important for the team. We need to make sure that we’re managing all these deals correctly.”

Colton Brausen is the newest member of the industrial team at Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers, handling the leasing for a small portfolio of properties and serving as a tenant rep. He wanted to be part of the team because “they’re the best in this market,” he says. “They are different than any other brokerage I’ve worked at. They’ve got a good mix of personalities, and they know every major player here.”


So what’s keeping the Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers industrial team busy these days? Here are some of the major projects for which the commercial brokerage firm has the listings.

Developed by Butters Group and New York-based BGO, Gulf Landing Logistics Center is the largest industrial project in Southwest Florida. The 14-building campus totaling more than 2.2 million square feet of Class A industrial space will be delivered in several phases. Strategically located next to Southwest Florida International Airport with direct frontage on I-75, the site is ideal for bulk distribution and ecommerce warehouses.

Highland Commerce Center of Fort Myers, developed by HSA Commercial Real Estate, is a Class A industrial crossdock warehouse with more than 480,000 square feet of space. With 96 dock doors and four drive-in doors, it’s the largest cross dock in the market.

Legacy at Oriole, a two-building industrial park totaling 500,000 square feet, was developed by Geis Companies and Stonemont Financial Group. Each building offers up to 46 dock doors, eight drive-in doors and 85 trailer parking spaces.

Minnesota-based Capital Partners developed Alico Logistics Center, a two-building industrial park totaling 216,000 square feet on almost 13 acres. Each building features 20 dock doors and two drive-in doors, and tenants include Fusion Industries and Fuse Specialty Appliances.

Suncoast Commerce Center developed by EastGroup Properties contains more than 1 million square feet of dockhigh industrial warehouse buildings. The new construction rear-load industrial warehouse facility offers easy access from I-75 and houses tenants like Lennox Industries, Home Depot, FedEx Ground and Lee Health.

Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group and Florida-based Helms Development are the developers behind Alico ITEC Logistics Park. The twobuilding, 25-acre project features 380,000 square feet with 88 docks, four drive-in doors and 28 shared trailer parking spaces.

Developed by Glenstar and Columnar Holdings, Tri-County 75 consists of four Class A buildings totaling more than 818,000 square feet. The 72-acre master-planned industrial development is located at the intersection of I-75 and Luckett Road with premier highway visibility. Tenants include Ferguson Enterprises, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Costco Wholesale and Snyder’s Lance.