Building a commercial real estate tradition


Guest Blog- Michael Millar, Open Slate Communications


If the largest and longest running commercial real estate forecast event was commemorated like traditional annual events, this blog post might be about China, the traditional gift for a marriage’s 20th Anniversary.

That’s because this annual forecast started innocently enough 20 years ago when I was at Grubb & Ellis. Tony Lydon (now with JLL) and Mike McKiernan (now with Avison Young) suggested (okay, mandated) an annual Forecast Breakfast. The concept: bring clients, prospective clients and industry colleagues together for perspectives on the market based in our 36-page forecast book.

(As if herding 40-45 brokers to collaborate on the production of a forecast book wasn’t already painful enough!)

There were detractors, one in particular, who said we wouldn’t pull it off. How sweet it was after that first Forecast event to hear that naysayer retract his words. Vindication.

During the seven years at Grubb we did four or five “live” parades of speakers (and self-proclaimed comics) who addressed crowds of up to 550 people. Two of the years we stepped up our game and went documentary style with video productions.

Then, in 2002, at a new place of employ, the Real Estate Publishing Group, the great transition began. I knew upon being hired that a Forecast conference was in the plans, but I was hoping for a one year reprieve. Higher-level executives thought differently, so that year we began transforming a well-attended, client-focused event into a major industry event produced by Illinois real Estate Journal. We pulled it off that first year, exceeding expectations. There were no naysayers, and the accomplishment of the REPG team felt just as sweet!

We had no way of knowing what was launched – somewhat reluctantly -in 1994 at Grubb and converted in 2002 at Real Estate Publishing Group/Illinois Real Estate Journal, would grow to become the largest, longest-running commercial real estate forecast event of its kind in Chicago. We’ve covered a lot of ground, heard a lot of predictions, visited most of Chicago’s biggest hotels, and consumed a lot of cups of coffee (starting before hotels “proudly served” Starbucks coffee).

In about six weeks we’ll do it all over again: January 20, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. See you there! Bring your business cards…the networking will be good, the speakers enlightening and the coffee hot!

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