70 Years of Service
As the 70th anniversary of the Society of Industrial and Office
Realtors (SIOR) draws to a close, we thought it would be a fitting time to reflect on our history, our mission, and our enduring legacy.
The Society of Industrial Realtors (SIR) essentially began in
response to the United States entering World War II. Prior to the
war, the National Association of Real Estate Boards (“NAREB”),
just had a “Broker’s” Division (a 'commercial' division you could
join for $5.00 a year!). SIR Founders Frank Binswanger, Sr., David
T. Houston, and Joseph J. Greenberg wanted to establish an association which more accurately reflected the specialty of industrial
real estate. These men, Fred Dietsch and five other industrial brokers, began meeting in 1939 and 1940 in Philadelphia and eventually in Washington, D.C. in 1941 to create the framework of what
became SIR. In 1941, the Department of War asked the leadership
to assemble the top industrial agents in markets around the U.S.
to inventory available properties that could be used in preparation for WWII. These men, along with 200 other eventual Society
members worked around the clock to survey every suitable facility across the U.S. and Canada and reported their findings to
the War Department—compiling a list of over 10,000 available
properties totaling millions of square feet of space. These industrial spaces became a driving force in the war effort, producing
war materials ranging from munitions to Boeing B- 17 bombers.
The years following WWII found sustained reconstruction
and consequent economic growth. During this time SIR members
were instrumental in helping the government’s Reconstruction
Finance Corp. (RFC) to repurpose the excess property.
The original 200 brokers would become the Society’s charter
members—members who during the height of World War II did
their part with ability, integrity, and sincerity—three qualities we
have held in high regard to this day.
1946 SIR Governing Council Meeting
Shown in this picture: SIOR's 1949 Governing Council during a
Early Financial History
A brief look at the Society’s dues structure reveals that Active
members paid $50.00 per year and Affiliate members paid $25
per year in 1941. The budget for that year was set at $10,000.
Space for the SIR headquarters was found on the floor of the
National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB), now the
National Association of Realtors (NAR)—in an area formerly
used for residential purposes. NAREB would supply two desks
and chairs, but the Society would have to purchase a typewriter.
Then president Bethel Hunt advised the Society that he would
supply a typewriter for the Society’s use. The Society advanced
rapidly and by 1943 the dues, as well as the annual budget, had
doubled, our rent had increased five times, we were in a deficit
and publicity entered the picture.
The Society Network
On March 25, 1943, the first issue of The Society (SIR’s first
newsletter) began with a statement that still exists in our rhetoric to this day, “With this first issue of The S.I.R. Newsletter
goes a plea for your cooperation and suggestions. No organization regardless of its size can function progressively
unless its membership participates actively in its program.”
From the onset, the message was clear. Through the SIR,
professionals would be able to provide commercial real estate
brokerage services to virtually every industrial area across
the United States. Despite the industry growing exponentially
over the past 70 years, it is this sense of community and tradition around the SIOR that has kept the organization thriving.
This value of the SIR “network” became apparent almost immediately after the organization's founding.
Then President Bethel Hunt wrote in the June 15, 1943 issue
of The Society, “Shout it from the house top! The excellent reputation gained by nearly 200 highly qualified industrial real estate