On January 17, 2008 the Greater New York Chapter of IFMA celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Over the years the Chapter has gone through a myriad of changes to become the Chapter that we are today. For those of you who are unaware of our chapter’s rich history, I’ve been tasked with writing this article, so we can acknowledge the hard work and dedication that helped our chapter, the association, and the facility management profession grow and prosper.
In the 1970s, Herman Miller created the Facility Management Institute (FMI). The institute was a means for early facility management professionals to meet and share ideas about the changing workplace environment. Remember, prior to the 1970s, the term “facility management” did not exist. The introduction of open plan and technology into the office, created all sorts of obstacles and challenges. Corporate management, who attended these early FMI programs, knew that continuing to meet and share ideas would benefit the workplace environment and those who were tasked with maintaining it. In 1980, a group of professionals from Houston, Texas decided to create a local chapter of the FMI to support their growing concerns about the integration of people and technology in the workplace; this was the beginning of what we call IFMA. Founded in 1980 as the National Facility Management Association (NFMA) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the association became the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) in 1982 in recognition of a growing number of Canadian and global members. The association moved its headquarters from Ann Arbor to Houston in 1985.
There were a number of professionals from the New York area who attended the Facility Management Institute programs and learned that local chapters were being formed. They decided that the NY metropolitan area would be an ideal location to create another chapter, so in 1982 a steering committee was formed to create what was to become the Greater New York Chapter of the International Facility Management Association. The Steering Committee was comprised of:
Stephen Binder – Citibank – Chapter President
Robert Hamilton – Merck – Chapter Vice President
Edward Norton – International Paper – Chapter Treasurer
M.C Rossoff – Citibank – Chapter Secretary
Once the Steering Committee was formed, the following professionals joined, completing the original chapter board:
Robert Topping – Furniture Consultants – Chapter Program Chair
Betty Ann Sloan – The Hillier Group – Chapter PR Chair
These dedicated individuals obtained support and funding from their firms, delegated responsibilities to members of the team, and created the first chapter board. They contacted the National Facility Management Association to let it know their intention to form a chapter in the NY metropolitan area, drafted a chapter charter, by-laws and constitution and then set out to find other facility management professionals in the region. This was not an easy task as the professional designation of “Facility Manager” was not a commonly used term. Early FMs evolved from a variety of corporate responsibilities, i.e. office services, real estate, finance, human resources, maintenance, building services, operations management, housekeeping, asset management, design, and construction, just to name a few.
In September of 1982, when I was the Director of Design and Project Management at Chemical Bank working in the Planned Asset Management Department (PAM), I was approached by Robert Topping (one of my furniture dealer reps). He asked me if I would be interested in joining an organization that was forming in the Greater NY area to bring together other professionals like myself who were responsible for designing, building and/or maintaining corporate spaces. At the time I was a member of ASID (American Society for Interior Design) which was primarily a residentially oriented association. There were other organizations like the IBD (Institute of Business Designers) and a variety of architectural organizations like the AIA, but there were no associations directly addressing the needs of what was to become known as “Facility Management”. I found the idea of being able to network with other professionals involved in the facilities industry very appealing. It was then that Robert enlisted my services to help put together a mailing list for the first chapter meeting, which led to an invitation to join the Steering Committee.
Members of the Steering Committee had already begun reaching out to their resources, engaging assistance to locate professionals in the area who might be interested in joining the newly forming Greater New York Chapter. A number of vendors stepped up to the plate, volunteering their time, contact lists, showrooms and funding to get the chapter up and running. This was also how the chapter got started having meetings in local showrooms. Two vendor representatives in particular deserve special recognition: Ted Noble who was with Harter Furniture at the time and Bill Doylewho was with Stow Davis. Both of these gentlemen along with their employers helped to establish the format and set the standards for future Chapter meetings.
In November of 1982, over 200 diverse facility professionals were assembled and a mailing was sent out announcing the first meeting of the Greater New York Chapter of IFMA. The meeting was held the evening of December 12, 1982 in the Harter Showroom on West 58th Street at Fifth Avenue. Harter provided refreshments and for the first hour or so, major networking was in progress. I don’t think any of the board members were prepared for the overwhelming response. I also think that the majority of attendees had no idea of the number of facility professionals who were in the tri-state area. When the program began, Steve Binder introduced himself and the rest of the board and explained the goals and objectives of IFMA and the Greater New York Chapter. It was almost a full year from the time that the Steering Committee had their first meeting at Citibank until the first chapter meeting was held.
The second chapter meeting was held January 17, 1983 in the Stow Davis Showroom on East 57th Street and Third Avenue. What makes this date significant is that Mel Schlitt, the then Director of IFMA, came to New York City to present the Chapter with its Charter. Now you know the significance of celebrating the Chapter’s Anniversary in January. Within a six month period of time, our Chapter was off the groundand running. Monthly meetings were initiated, programs were presented by chapter members, and their consultants and vendors were focused on sharing knowledge from projects and the daily responsibilities of our colleagues. Our board was growing along with the Chapter and additional committees were established to meet our needs.
How the Chapter got its name - The “Greater New York Chapter"
When we received our Charter in January 1983, the Chapter was established to service the tri-state area. Membership was open to FMs from all five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, Northern New Jersey and Southern Connecticut. Unlike some of the other chapters in IFMA, our chapter encouraged our members from outside the five New York City boroughs to create their own local chapters. Our membership grew at a rapid pace; there were a multitude of issues that were pertinent to the suburban FM that did not affect the majority of FMs in New York City and vice versa. It was in everybody’s best interest that the surrounding areas form their own chapters to address regional issues and for ease of participation and attendance. Over the years we spun off a number of chapters in Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island, and Westchester/ Rockland Counties.
From the beginning, the Greater New York Chapter was a leader in the facilities industry. As the association expanded and additional chapters formed, our chapter created policies and procedures that were adopted by other chapters. We were always a resourceful group, utilizing manufacturer showrooms for meeting locations and engaging vendor sponsorships to subsidize the income from National dues to pay for meetings and events. For the first 9 years or so, there were no fees for members to attend chapter meetings and functions, with the exception of Chapter Luncheons, Dinners, Boat Rides and special events which had reduced fees charged to members attending. When the association implemented the 75/25 rule, meaning that each chapter was required to maintain 75% Professional membership and 25% Allied or Affiliate (Vendors and Consultants) membership, our chapter created a policy, whereby only vendors who brought in or sponsored a minimum of two professional members were able to join. This policy was instrumental in the recruitment of professionals to join the chapter. We were one of the first chapters to implement a succession board, providing mentoring for chapter leadership.
Edward Norton and I were recently reminiscing about the early days of the Chapter. Edward recalled the meeting notices: we sent out postcards with RSVP info as there was neither e-mail nor a website. The postcards noted the topic, location, date and the RSVP contact. We also remembered fondly the photos that Jeff Simon took at all the early events. Each year at the annual anniversary lunch or dinner, yes we had luncheons, a slide show highlighting the year’s events and the history of the chapter was displayed. If we could only find these slides now…
Attending the annual conferences was always a major event for the Greater New York Chapter. Early on, when the conferences were held annually in Chicago at the Holiday Inn Merchandise Mart, we were recognized as being loud and boisterous. Whether we were attending a House of Delegates meeting where we were extremely vocal about our opinions and ideas for the association or we were attending Leadership Sessions, Educational Programs and banquets, people knew who the Greater New York Chapter was and wanted to join us. We became known for being a party chapter, so we had to prove that we were serious when it came to the facility management profession. In 1987 when we were awarded “Chapter of the Year” we finally earned the recognition we deserved.
World Workplace, formerly known as the IFMA Annual Conference and Expo, is where the trading of the chapter pins began. At the 1984 National IFMA Conference, a member of the Toronto Chapter, Paul Tranquada who worked for the Canadian Government at the time, was giving out Canadian Flag pins and combination Canadian and US flag pins. The next year Steve Binder suggested we get some Apple pins from the City of New York. What we learned was that New York City did not give away the pins. They did direct us to their supplier and we purchased 100 pins to take to the 1985 Conference. Once the New York Chapter started giving out the Apple pins, other chapters joined the pin exchange in the years that followed. What started out as a small token of friendship, an ice breaker to meet other chapters’ members, has blossomed into a global pin exchange with chapters designing new pins each year. Who knew this simple gesture would take off in the way that it has?
For a chapter that has produced the least number of CFMs based on the number of Chapter members, we have attained some major accomplishments. Below are just some of our accomplishments from the past 25 years:
The Greater New York Chapter of IFMA has been the recipient of the following Awards of Excellence:
Best Newsletter 1987
Chapter Membership 1987
Distinguished Member of the Year – Stephen Binder 1987
Chapter of the Year 1987 and 2005
We have produced the following National Officers:
Stephen Binder – Treasurer 1983-1984
Robert Brandt – Chair Research Committee 1986 -1990
Stephen Binder – Regional Vice President 1987-1989
Paul Hines – Regional Vice President 1989-2000
Lucy Lessane – Founding member and President-Legal Industry Council 1998-1999
Ernie Pelikan – Founding member and Treasurer-Legal Industry Council 1998-1999
Debbie Jaslow Shatz – Y2K Task Force 1998-2000
Carol E. Farren – President – FM Consultants Council 2004 – 2005
We also produced the following IFMA Fellows:
Carol E. Farren, CMC, CFM
The Chapter was recognized for contributions to the Statue of Liberty Restoration.
The Greater New York Chapter’s Curriculum Committee worked with the staff of Pratt Institute for a period of almost two years in 1987 and 1988 to create the Pratt Institute Facility Management Graduate Degree Program. This program received certification from IFMA in 2007. IFMA members continue to support Pratt, participating as associate professors.
Established a Greater New York Facility Management Scholarship, prior to contributing the IFMA Foundation Scholarship Fund.
2001 Established the Anthony J. Cornacchia Distinguished Service Award, in memory of a special member who gave his time and energy to the Chapter.
In addition to the accomplishments noted above, a number of our chapter members and their firms have obtained individual International Awards of Excellence for Projects, as educators and as authors of books and articles.
The success of our chapter over the past 25 years would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication and passion for the facility management profession of our current and past presidents:
Brian Ostrowe, CFM
1982-1984 & 1988-1989
* Charter Members
They were supported by the Board Members and Committee Chairs who are too numerous to mention. In addition to Ted Nobel and Bill Doyle, there are a number of other Chapter “Charter Members” who deserve special recognition for their many years of support and participation they are:
Robert “Bob” Engle
Anne Fallucchi, IFMA Fellow
Normal Greaves, CFM
Joseph Horowitz, PE
Betty Ann Sloan
Stephen Yavrouian, AIA
I apologize if I left any of the “Charter Members” off the list; just let me know, so we can add your name.
Being a member of the Greater New York Chapter of IFMA has been a very rewarding experience, both personally and professionally because of the knowledge gained, the friendships and the memories that continue to be made. Congratulations and here’s to the next 25 years!
Debbie Jaslow Shatz, CFM
Past President and Founding Member
Special thanks to my friends and mentors, Edward Norton, Carol Farren and Jeff Simon for contributing to this article and to Peg Smith for her assistance.
IFMA Greater New York City is now IFMA New York City as the chapter continues to grow and branch off into more localized