As a senior real estate manager for Atlanta-based Home Depot, Kate Peterson has some very important responsibilities. She oversees the site selection, planning and development, asset management and disposition of all Home Depot real estate in seven Southern states. We recently got a chance to speak with Kate about her career, and she filled us in on some new Home Depot initiatives – as well as which band she thinks her grandchildren won’t tease her for liking.
HS: You've been a real estate manager for Home Depot since 2006 and before that you were with North American Properties. What drew you to the world of commercial real estate and what makes it exciting for you?
Peterson: The opportunity to create something real drew me in a long time ago. I grew up in the real estate business. My father is a developer in southwest Florida, and I spent a lot of time with him doing everything from answering phones to walking construction sites and attending public hearings.
One of my dad’s first big centers, The Landings, was in our neighborhood – across from my elementary school – and I witnessed the process from conceptual plans until it became a living, breathing part of our community and local economy. Each day, we all have an amazing opportunity to touch something real and have a positive impact on a community’s landscape.
HS: With Home Depot having slowed its expansion in recent years, what kinds of projects and initiatives are you working on these days?
Peterson: First, let me say that the Home Depot is an incredible company to be a part of. We have more than 2,200 stores across the world, and are we constantly refining and challenging all aspects of our business to create the best environment for our customers while returning the highest value to our shareholders.
Our real estate portfolio makes up one of the company’s largest assets, and our department strives to create additional value anywhere we can. One of the best examples of this is our carve-out program. We are strategically identifying and selling unused portions of our parking fields for other retail uses, which results in synergies for our customers and dollars to our bottom line. We are still continuing to expand our retail presence also. One of the most exciting things I am working on right now is a brand called Home Decorator’s Collection, which is owned by Home Depot. We opened a new showroom for this furniture and décor concept in Alpharetta last summer, and over time we will continue to look for more opportunities to expand that business.
HS: What’s the most valuable bit of advice that you’ve received about succeeding in commercial real estate?
Peterson: It is a really small world; treat all people with respect. It’s as simple as that.
HS: If you could listen to one only musician/group for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Peterson: This is a really tough question. I like all kinds of music, from classic rock to pop and opera (yes, opera). From an intellectual position though, I believe that the band Coldplay has a unique mix of passion and talent, and they seem pretty stable and grounded. I think that their music will continue to evolve and that my grandkids would not make fun of me for listening to it.