The organization’s structure
was spearheaded by Frank
Binswanger and future
chairman of the organizing
committee, Joe Greenberg.
Frank and Joe were able to gain
sponsorship for the founding of
Society of Industrial Realtors.
One year and two months later,
The United States entered
In the late ’50s the Society,
in cooperation with the
United States Department
of Commerce and Mobil Oil
Company, participated in the
World’s Fair held in Brussels,
Belgium. Several prominent
S.I.R. developers displayed
their industrial parks at the fair.
To show how times have changed, our initial annual member and firm dues in 1941
were $50 per person and firm and sales-men affiliate dues were $25 per person.
The budget for that year was $10,000 and
SIR's office space that first year was found
on the floor of the NAREB ( 22 West Monroe
Street, Chicago) in an area formerly used as
an apartment. NAREB supplied two desks
and chairs, and SIR was slated to buy their
own typewriter until president-elect Bethel
Hunt picked up the tab.
By 1943, two years later, the dues and
budget had doubled, our second EVP, Cal
Sneider was hired, and the first issue of the
SIR newsletter ( The Society) was published.
That November we hosted the National
War Conference of the Society of Industrial
Realtors at the Statler Hotel in Cleveland,
Ohio. Each speaker and break-out session
was about how the war was affecting
That year, the War Production Board
stopped all construction work that did not
contribute directly toward winning the war.
The SIR (the Society’s bi-monthly newsletter) reported that there was a total of more
than $1.3 billion in construction halted
from October 1942 to June 1943. SIR also
reported that the cost of land acquired
by the federal government as of January
1943 was $889 million, not including the
purchase of 334 million acres of public
domain land, making up 5/6th of all urban
federally owned land, or 8,762 parcels of
land procured (such as city lots) which cost
$144 million, for a total land cost of one
By 1944 S.I.R. had offices in both Chicago
After The War
After the war, beginning in August 1945,
SIR helped the U.S. Reconstruction Finance
Corp. and the War Assets Administration
dispose of “Government Owned Surplus
Real Property” throughout the U.S. The SIR
newsletter reported “Our policy has shifted
sharply from government activity – principally the disposition of surplus property
– to a revitalized and action-paced program directed at your potential customer:
private industry.” The following year SIR
settled on D.C. as its headquarters.
Our first female member selected to Active
Membership was Sanny Sue McCleery, in
1950. She was an industrial Realtor from
Ft. Worth and the Star-Telegram ran an article stating that she was “the only woman
in the world who can tack the initials SIR to
In the late ‘40s, the Society initiated the
Industrialist of the Year Award program.
The award was given to the industrialist
(user) contributing the most to industrial
development in the U.S. that year. The
Society selected several prominent busi-
nessmen to chair a search committee
made up of the presidents of lead trade
organizations including the American Bar
Assoc., the American Bankers Assoc.,
the National Assoc. of Manufacturers, the
American Petroleum Institute, the Assoc.
of American Railroads, etc. Presentation of
the award netted exceptional publicity for
the Society. The first recipient was Alfred
P. Sloan, Chairman of the Board of General
The Howell H. Watson Award was established in 1986 to recognize SIOR members
for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the principles of the Society.
It still remains the most valued recognition
afforded a member.
In 1948 the U.S. government sued
NAREB for price (commission) fixing, aka
“restraint-of-trade.” The result of that litigation remains with us today and is part of
our SIOR Code of Professional Conduct.
In fact, during the early years of SIR the
original philosophy was that industrial brokers should not own real estate because of
the perception (and possibly real) conflict of
interest with clients. CB Richard Ellis maintained that philosophy for many years. In
our early days, only about 5 percent of our
membership owned commercial property,
but by 1970 over 90 percent of our membership were owners. That said, ethics
remains the most important qualification
for membership in SIOR. Membership understood that the we could empathize with
our customers if we experienced the same
risks and benefits of ownership and it allowed us to learn more about our business.
Does the phrase “capital call” ring a bell?