COO, Industrial Properties of the South
Laurel Bailey is a commercial real estate professional with almost 20 years in the business. Laurel specializes in industrial space and office space in the North Alabama area. She is the COO of Industrial Properties of the South, a local real estate company that has been developing and leasing commercial space for over forty years. As COO, Laurel oversees the leasing and property management for 1.4 million square feet of space, which accommodates more than forty tenants. Laurel is very involved with the local real estate community and volunteers on several different boards in Huntsville, which support and educate local commercial real estate professionals. She is proud to be one of a growing number of women working in an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. Laurel has been asked to oversee the construction of over 130,000 square feet of new space, plus numerous redevelopment projects in Huntsville and Madison over recent years. Laurel is married to John and has two children Olivia – 16, and Graham –13.
What civic organizations or nonprofits have you been involved with, and why have those been important to you?
I have been very involved with many nonprofits and civic organizations throughout the years, but one of my favorites is an organization I joined in October 2019, the Women’s Economic Development Council or WEDC. The WEDC exists to champion women leaders in business and the community. The mission of WEDC is to provide opportunities to women for leadership and economic development through education, mentorship, and strategic connections. The WEDC members are intentional to encourage and support each other. It is an amazing group of women, and I would encourage any woman in business to visit one of the monthly meetings.
What circumstances or people helped shape you in your career?
A phone call from my parents in 2003 changed the trajectory of my career. At the time, I was living in Birmingham, newly married and working in public accounting. My plan at the time was to stay in Birmingham and work my way up at an accounting firm. After a couple of years, my parents suggested the idea of my husband and I moving back to Huntsville and give working in our family business a try. That was eighteen years ago! Working in my family business has been both extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. My parents have been excellent mentors and very supportive of my goals for the company going forward.
How do you maintain balance as a working mother?
I think maintaining balance between work and motherhood is constant and takes ongoing effort. It is honestly one of the things that keeps me up some nights. Did I forget a soccer practice? Did I forget a work meeting? Fortunately, I have some incredible women in my life who have have walked this path who give me reassuring advice on how to balance it all. They often remind me to slow down and enjoy the moment, whether it is a success at work, or one of my children’s accomplishments. Some things I have learned along the way:
-Try not to over commit because something will always come up.
-Be present for your kids, they are watching where your priorities are.
-Empower others to make decisions on your behalf (when possible) because you can’t be everywhere all the time.
What differentiates you from your peers or competitors?
We are a family-owned business, and I am the second generation to operate the company. What sets our company apart is the personal service we provide to each of our tenants. Our staff works very hard to help our tenants solve their facility requirements and we go above and beyond to assist them on small and large projects. We have our own maintenance staff who know all the tenants and the tenants appreciate the access they have to our staff. We are not an out-of-town landlord who is slow to respond. We take pride in maintaining our buildings and tending to our tenants needs. And since we are located in Madison, we are very involved in the Huntsville/Madison community.
How did the pandemic affect your business?
Because we support government facilities, our business is considered essential. We did not close down at all during the pandemic, and we were able to continue servicing our tenants fully. We did have to rethink public areas in our office buildings. We implemented sanitization stations in many of our facilities and enforced masking, per the City of Huntsville and Madison ordinances. Because the way people work is changing (at home versus traditional offices) we have been preparing for some tenant turnover. Most of our tenants have returned to their offices and are glad to be back in a more normal work environment.
Is there a favorite quote you’d like to share about powerful or strong women?
“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.” -Unknown