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Here’s to another 75 years – AMO® firms grow stronger every day

One of the primary reasons IREM® was founded in 1933 as an affiliate of what is now known as the National Association of REALTORS® was to help building owners and investors make informed decisions when choosing a firm to manage their properties. Keep in mind this was in the midst of the Great Depression, and property managers tended to be regarded as unscrupulous rent collectors, too often because many of them were. Industry knowledge, expertise, and most importantly, a commitment to ethical practices were among the qualities IREM cultivated in members.

But in IREM’s early days, members were not individual property managers. They were companies. And while the prestigious CPM certification was introduced in 1938, IREM’s Governing Council soon realized that validation of excellence in real estate management should also extend to firms that provide property management services. And so, in September 1945, IREM introduced the Accredited Management Organization (AMO®) certification.

Now, 75 years later, an elite group of 560 organizations hold AMO certification. Among the original 162 firms that first received AMO accreditation in the spring of 1946, two have maintained it continuously. Many of the others from that first class have combined with other companies or have otherwise ceased to exist in their 1945 form. However, among that first group of AMO firms were Chicago-based Draper and Kramer, Incorporated, and Morton G. Thalhimer. Both these firms recognized early on the value of AMO certification – how it validates the best industry practices their companies cultivate.

Draper and Kramer, Incorporated, AMO®
Founded in 1893, Draper and Kramer was already a well-established, successful, family owned real estate business by 1945.  Timothy S. Kramer, CPM®, ARM®, Vice President and Director of Operations, Management Services, offers background on the importance of maintaining AMO certification for his family’s business:

“At Draper and Kramer, Incorporated, we’re incredibly proud to have held IREM’s AMO accreditation for more than 75 years, reflecting our history and longevity in this industry. Likewise, it makes us doubly proud to be able to say we’ve partnered with, supported, and worked with IREM since the beginning of that important certification. It represents and requires a commitment to business excellence that speaks to the quality of IREM, all its members and our firm by that association.”

The early years at Draper and Kramer, established in 1893 by Arthur W. Draper and Adolph F. Kramer in Chicago, IL.

Still growing beyond its Chicago roots, 128 years since it was founded, Kramer tells us the AMO accreditation is a good reminder of what Draper and Kramer strives to stand for as a company, as it lets clients, residents, industry partners and employees know the company takes their commitment to ethical business practices very seriously. 

A promise to maintain ethical practices is at the root of every IREM certification, a meaningful attribute Kramer believes differentiates the company, as “earning and maintaining the AMO accreditation is more than just a marketing ploy – more than a badge to be placed on business cards. It subjects our actions to review by our peers. That’s what makes AMO certification so different, and meaningful, as compared with accreditations offered by other organizations.” 

Kramer goes on to say, “IREM member organizations take the quality of the AMO accreditation very seriously, and IREM’s members spend a significant amount of time making sure that everyone involved upholds the rigorous ethical standards that the organization, its members and AMO certification represent.  In short, when you see the AMO accreditation, you can be confident that the firm upholds the highest ethical standards when conducting business. That is good business.”

Good business, a sentiment shared by Kramer’s colleague Julie F. Stevlingson, CPM® and Senior Vice President and Director of Management Services. According to Stevlingson and the company’s Executive CPM, Kimmberly Donnelly, “Draper and Kramer, Incorporated, realizes many benefits to being an AMO firm.  We sponsor and encourage our management teams to obtain the ARM® and CPM® certifications. This elevates their ability to positively impact the financial performance of the properties, their customer service and ethical responsibilities to their residents and the communities we serve, all while furthering their professional careers in this ever changing industry.”

Morton G. Thalhimer, Inc., AMO®
Another company that has recognized the advantages of AMO certification for 75 years is Morton G. Thalhimer, Inc., from Richmond, Virginia, now affiliated with Cushman & Wakefield. Curtis Mummau, CPM®, the company’s Executive CPM and Senior Vice President of Commercial Property Management, tells us when he first moved into his new role as Senior Vice President with the firm, in 2012, one of the first strategies he and his team executed was to promote the company’s AMO certification more broadly. For example, his company is among the few he’s seen in his market to include the AMO certification logo on every company business card.

“The whole thought behind that, and what we try to demonstrate, is basically that the certification elevates our business among our peers,” says Mummau. “I think it represents and distinguishes us more in terms of all the qualities that  make up AMO accreditation and what it stands for; the commitment to excellence. The ethical standards. And being a reputable organization in that regard.”

Beyond recognition as a solid, stable, and ethically-managed firm, AMO certification has other benefits. Just like other IREM certifications, AMO firms are a community, and a close knit one at that. And just like individual members, AMO firms can count on each other for help and advice whenever they need it.

Morton G. Thalhimer celebrating 50 years of services in 1963.

In Morton G. Thalhimer’s case, his company’s status as an AMO firm helped navigate the global health crisis. Along with the pandemic resources IREM provided to all property managers and property management companies, Mummau and his colleagues were able to tap into the knowledge and experiences of other AMO firms, as far back as last March and April. While we’re well along with the crisis today, we need to remember that a year ago there were a lot of unknowns about the virus that property managers had to unravel.

“A lot of us reached out to each other, competitors and otherwise, and said, look, what does the industry need to do differently?” says Mummau. “I think we all kind of had some humility, at that point, or just kindness to say, look, we’re in this together, albeit spread out a little,  but I think we looked at it and said, what are some best practices? What are some resources? How do we get through this as an industry for the benefit of our clients, tenants, residents, and communities?  We're all scrambling to get hand sanitizers, working with signage companies. So we had some calls with a whole bunch of market leaders in the area, saying, Hey, what are you doing, how are you?”

Commitment
Maintaining AMO status is a big commitment! These firms are subject to intense scrutiny, they’re evaluated carefully, and above all, they’re held to the highest standards in the real estate industry. Achieving and retaining AMO status requires:

  • Professionalism – the organization’s property managers must be qualified, and experienced.
  • Financial performance and integrity – AMO certification requires full financial transparency, proper accounting, clear segregation of client funds from company funds, and definitely no commercial actions that can be interpreted as misleading, inaccurate, or suspicious.
  • And, there must be a Certified Property Manager (CPM®) in an executive position, engaged in the company’s property management activities.

Being the best of the best isn’t easy. Staying the best may even be harder. But IREM’s AMO firms believe the effort is worth it.

 

Comments

Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer is proud to have maintained the AMO® designation for IREM® for 75 years! We look forward to many more to come!

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