Topic: Membership


The theme of this month’s program was “Membership.” In light of IFMA International’s membership drive, the IFMA Tulsa Board of Directors along with Membership Chair, Sharon Marrs, thought January would be a great month to have this program.

Chapter members were encouraged to invite potential new members as their guests and also to submit the names of prospective new members to Sharon or IFMA International so that they would be entered in the drawing sponsored by IFMA International for a registration to World Workplace. The chapter and council who submit the most names will win the registration.

A number of chapter members participated in the program. Starting off the meeting was Vice President, Carl Vincent. Carl kicked things off by sharing the following “Historical Events” that took place in 1980, the year IFMA was formed:

  • Big Gulp was invented by 7-11; Sony introduced the Walkman
  • Tony Lenox was 20 years old, had long hair, and was into break dancing
  • Ted Webb – daughter born, 32 years old
  • Ross Phippen was 12 – still looks the same
  • Sharon Marrs was 29 and still is, had a 9 year old
  • Nikki Parmley & Stephanie Pugh were 5 years old – in kindergarten
  • Paul Glavas – 19 years old, 1956 Ford Y-block pickup, same hair, except there was more
  • Mark Cohlmia – 27 years old, working for Searle as medical sales rep in Kansas
  • Tom Seifried – moved from Houston to Tulsa, rep for gift industry, 28 years old, Buick Station Wagon
  • Steve Berry – 27 years old, at Sooner Federal, Ford LTD, a company car
  • Brian Bennett – Living in Canada, 26 years old, sales manager for Lewis Office Furniture in Calgary, had long hair, lead singer & guitarist for a band called Innocence

Carl then shared a “History of IFMA International.” Below are the findings from Carl’s research:

The average person did not know what facility management was in 1980. Even the average facility manager did not appreciate that he or she was part of a real profession because there was little consistency in job titles or descriptions. They usually were called property managers, building managers or office administrators. And, there was no organized effort to unite this diverse group.

“People would ask me what I did, I would say I was a facility manager,” Bill Back, then with Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. headquartered in Houston, Texas, USA, said. “‘Facility manager, what’s that?’ was the usual response.” Back described his role as doing about 10 times as much as a building manager.

Office environments were on the verge of change. The popular 1960s freestanding screens were being replaced with sophisticated systems furniture. The introduction of the computer terminal into workstations also presented challenges with computer, wiring, lighting, acoustic and territory problems. The office scene was becoming more complex, and the person in charge, a.k.a. the facility manager, needed guidance. Faced with his company’s growing pains and the demands of workplace evolution, George Graves wondered how he could improve his stature at Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation.

“At that time, there was no other association that addressed facility management,” Graves said. “The closest thing to it was an association interested in buildings and their leases, while we were challenged with that plus office layout, budgets and long-range forecasting just to name a few issues.”

A group of practitioners set out to achieve recognition and credibility for their profession, make facility management a household word. Today, their dream has become a reality through the International Facility Management Association, and the FM title now is recognized by industry colleagues, academia and top management across the world.

December 1978 marked one of the first gatherings. Robert Probst of Herman Miller Research Corp. hosted a conference entitled “Facility Influence on Productivity” at Herman Miller’s Merigold Lodge in Holland, Mich., USA. Probst’s goal for the conference, according to Graves, was to “bring people like us together.” Probst wanted to establish Facility Management Institute to be an educational and research subsidiary of Herman Miller.

Three important figures were introduced during the conference. They were Graves, who would become IFMA’s first president; Charles Hitch, then with the Manufacturers Bank of Detroit; and Dave Armstrong, a professor at Michigan State University who would eventually head FMI. They voiced the need for an organization that was not promoted by vendors, but was made up of facility managers from private industry. While these men would plant the seeds to form IFMA, nothing took root at this meeting.

Nearly a year later, Graves and Hitch hosted a conference for facility management professionals at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Mich., USA. Armstrong was in attendance to discuss the objectives of the new FMI. Despite hopes that this meeting would lead to the foundation of a private-sector organization dedicated to facility management, the conference adjourned with nothing settled.

“I think the organization didn’t materialize in Detroit because we didn’t have the groundwork laid for it,” Graves said. “All we did was get together and talk about it. No concrete steps were taken though everyone there was in favor of it.”

Progress finally was made May 1980, when Graves hosted a two-day meeting at Two Houston Center in Houston, Texas, USA to develop the framework for a facility management association. By the end of that meeting, a new organization—the National Facility Management Association—had a constitution and bylaws, temporary offices and an expansion plan. In the following months, Graves served as president, Hitch as vice-president, Bill Back as secretary and Charles White of Houston Natural Gas as treasurer.

Other people in attendance at the founding were: Judy Farrar of the American Productivity Center; A. C. Brooks of Shell Oil Company; Suzanne Huston of Western Company of North America; Wayne Mills of Pennzoil Company; Andy Pedrazas of Columbia Gulf Transmission; Douglas Sherman of the University of Michigan; and Melvin Schlitt and Robert Snyder, both of Facility Management Institute.

“I think one of the things that helped us expand during our first few months was the fact that Mel and Bob had both been at the meeting in Houston,” Back said. “They went back to FMI and started to conduct two seminars per week. Fortunately, they became our pitchmen. They had people attending those seminars from all around the country, and they made a pitch for the Association every time. That’s when we really started picking up a lot of members.”

FMI was very interested in the new Association, according to Graves, and it agreed to help by offering part-time manpower, donating public relations services, creating a budget and hosting the first annual conference of the National Facility Management Association in Ann Arbor, Mich., USA.

There were 47 participants, 25 of which were members of the Association, at this conference in October 1980. Most of the participants also had attended a seminar held by FMI two days prior to the meeting. The NFMA event was conducted for another two days and included presentations on facility management as well as important business affairs like ratification of the constitution and election of officers. The new officers were: Charles Hitch, president; Richard Arick of Lincoln Life Insurance, vice president; Charles White, treasurer; and Judy Farrar of American Productivity Center, secretary. During that meeting, members present from Houston made a commitment to establish the first local chapter and to host the second annual conference there in October 1981.

“It was [to be] the Association’s first conference which was actually administered by its members,” Back said. “The conference in Ann Arbor was staged primarily by FMI with our name on it. I was pretty scared, my chapter was responsible for the conference in Houston and, at that time, the Association was not even incorporated. Consequently, if we had not been able to meet our financial obligations, I’d probably still be paying for that sucker today.”

Fortunately, the people who committed to the conference showed up. The second annual conference boasted 87 attendees and 21 speakers. It was there that Anne Falluchi debuted her magazine, Facilities Design and Management.

“At some point, if we hadn’t said ‘come on guys, let’s put on our engineer’s caps and railroad this baby through,’ then we would probably still be talking about it. Sometimes you’ve just got to grab the bull by the horns and take some action when the opportunity presents itself,” Back said.

According to Back and Graves, the best was yet to come. Shortly after the 1981 convention, Jim Chambers and a group of Canadian facility professionals joined the Association, and the name was changed to what we know today as the International Facility Management Association.

“With FMI’s help, everything just sort of blossomed,” Graves said. “We have grown so fast in so few years, and I think we’re still just scratching the surface. IFMA is an organization on the move!”

WOW. Now you know the history of IFMA. To share a local perspective, Steve Berry gave a presentation on the history of the local chapter. Founded on February 6, 1987, chapter membership reached 22 members that year and blossomed to a high of 75 members in 1998. Some of the chapter’s past Presidents have been:

  • Joe Cristiano – The first Tulsa chapter President
  • Ted Webb – Ted worked for Liberty Bank at the time
  • Pat Hanford – Pat was the Facility Manager for Thrifty Car Rental
  • T. A. Pritchard – Remember T.A.? He worked for Hilti
  • Cynthia Scanlon – Cynthia word for Avis
  • Cynthia Webb – Cynthia Webb was with Telex
  • Ross Phippen
  • John Wood
  • Robert Huff - Robert was with Hilti
  • Karen Byrd
  • Brian Bennett
  • Kelli Bailey
  • Steve Berry

Other chapter members such as Brian Bennett discussed some of the benefits of being a member of IFMA. Brian discussed the creation of the IFMA Tulsa website and gave a little background on the different features of the site. Brian also shared with those in attendance the benefits of attending World Workplace. Tom Seifried talked about the IFMA Tulsa chapter’s annual golf tournament benefiting The Little House House. Program Chairs, Trish Stokes and Tony Lenox, shared information about the programs we presented in 2004 and some of our upcoming programs. Programs scheduled for the very near future included tours of Direct TV, Cox Communications and our February program, a tour of the new Cherokee Hotel and Casino. Sharon Marrs wrapped things up discussing many of the benefits of IFMA and encouraging our guests to join our chapter through the Member’s Choice program.

A total of 10 guests attended this special “Membership” meeting. Our guests were:

  • Sandy Combs
  • Karen Furch
  • Carman Goff
  • Joe Gragg
  • Jacque Hill
  • Michael Manering
  • Lance Merrill
  • Connie Morgan
  • Nick Patterson
  • Anthony Schroeder

We will be looking forward to seeing all our guests at the next meeting as NEW members!

Thanks to Sharon Marrs for coordinating this educational and informative program. Congratulations also go out to all you $25.00 door prize winners. Attending meetings does have its’ advantages. See you next month at the casino.