Realtors National Marketing Institute members are all Realtors, but they are not all commercial realtors; some are residential. Commercial-Investment Real Estate Council members do not all specialize in investment property; some specialize in property leased for use. Their organization, CIREC, owns and operates the most successful real estate education program in the world. The program bestows the Certified Commercial Investment Member designation. Most of this little book has been bout the CCIM program. This chapter is about CIREC, the organization. CIREC is on the move.

Toward what is another question.

In 1967, it was formed of two segments, now called Councils: residential brokerage (for management concerns) and commercial-investment. Later was added a third: residential sales. Instructional programs lay at the heart of each segment.

This one-time Brokers Institute, later marketing, was primarily for professional education. But you don't bring people together in a common cause, grant certification through well-organized up-to-date series of courses, mold and weld them into a cohesive mass -- and then walk away from them once school is out.

Schools have alumni activities, don't they?

As early as 1972, CCIM alumni, called CCIMs, were forming chapters, eight in that first year of the chapter program. In 1978, the whole Marketing Institute underwent the Arthur D. Little treatment. It was “restructured,” which means almost anything you want it to mean. Defenders of status quo quake at the sound. The emphasis was to be planning, goal-setting, and management practices. The three Councils and their chapters were given an expanded role.

1978 in Memphis, Tenn., Martin Edwards Jr. got his CCIM. It was a first for him and a first for Memphis. In 1988, the year Edwards took office as Vice Chairman of CIREC, he was one of 19 Memphis CCIMs.

In 1978, he was one of 600 CCIMs in all, of whom more than 300 had been grandfathered in when the California program went national 10 years earlier. In 1988, Edwards was one of 2,600. This was not the same Council as 10n or 20 years ago.

A year after Martin Edwards's designation as a CCIM, the Council formed its Chapter Activities Committee to look to the needs of those burgeoning alumni. Each chapter sent two delegates to this Committee, which monitored and supported chapter activities, such as candidate recruitment and guidance programs, special events, seminars, and local designation promotion projects. A panoply of local activities. Old CCIMs were neither dying nor fading away.

Then something else happened. The economy began to limp. Residential sales and brokerage programs suffered. So did commercial-investment but just a little. Mainly, it prospered, while the others slumped.

CIREC began to feel a bit tied down as its revenues were drained off by the other Councils. It started to flex a few muscles or at least ligaments, as the old International Traders Club had flexed them in the early 1960s, when its own growth outstripped that of the parent institute.

In 1984, an accommodation was reached: CIREC would remain in the Institute but would function in a more decentralized fashion. There was a tugging at, if not cutting, of apron strings.

Simultaneously, there was a reassessment of what CIREC was about. Its instructional program had been so successful that it was forced to look to more than instruction as the staple of its existence. Education was still the priority, but other services seem called for, along lines of what's offered by a professional society.


Chapters numbered 49 by November 1981 -- up from eight in 1972. These chapters were increasingly organized by market area and not by state. In 1982, CIREC took over its own convention activities and recruitment and evaluation -- activities previously handled by the Institute as parent body. Later it took over designation promotion, computer research, long-range planning, and, last but not least, budgeting. In 1982, there were more than 1,300 designees and over 4,800 candidates.

Association benefits came to the fore at this time, in addition to classroom instruction. Regions were formed -- 11 nationally for the 58 chapters in 1988. CCIMs from Memphis, Tenn., were more likely to attend a four-state seminar in New Orleans than a national affair in Los Angeles or Boston, for obvious reasons.

From regional activities of this sort came increased regional identity. This was a sort of decentralization on the Council level, to match what has happening on the Institute level.

The CIREC name, for Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council, was first used in 1984, coinciding with yet more independence of function, though not of corporate membership. In 1985 and 1986, the Marketing Institute itself was restructured. This brought the biggest step yet toward autonomy, when each of the three RNMI Councils got separate budget and Executive Committee members under a largely nominal RNMI Board of Directors.

The process continues, sometimes in lesser matters. In 1988, each Council was given charge of its own hotel bookings. CCIM classes call for high ceilings to accommodate their need for overhead projectors. They need computers. They need this and that which they know about; so it's up to them now to make arrangements. Small matter? Not when you have your class lined up for a room too small for it and are looking for someone to solve the problem.

More to the point at issue, the CIREC budget for 1988 was $7 million. For the whole Institute of which it is part, it was $12.8 million. Of CI's $7 million, about $6 million comes from course fees. So, CI as one-third of the Marketing Institute troika brought in well over half its income, and that income remained tied inextricably to the CCIM program.

“Some wrongly think that CI is preparing to bolt the Institute,” said a CIREC member at the February 1988 meeting, and chuckles were heard. “Rumors are floating around,” said the same man at a later session.

The structural audit contributed to this, with its recommendation that each RNMI council incorporate separately, in part to reduce liability. Regionalization was a factor, because its contributed to the overall picture of decentralization. At that February meeting, regional chair persons were present for the first time in their newly bestowed capacities as ipso facto Council members. 

Not till May 1988 would the results of the audit be officially announced, and not until November 1988 would they be voted on. But commercial investment concerns had forced this issue of Institute identity.

For instance, CIREC was pressing for direct contact with the National Association of Realtors research group, apparently seeking a higher return on its hefty contribution to NAR. Indeed, the biggest issue of the audit would be that of membership classification, Ralph W. Varnum, past chairman of CIREC and current president of RNMI, reported to CIREC in February 1988.

It's a natural process, as some see it. The Council is on its way to becoming a full professional society, which will be good for chapter activists who would profit from increased membership services. The change is not entirely appreciated by some veteran CCIM instructors, for whom education remains clearly the flywheel that makes everything run.

But those chapters out there formed themselves, immediate past CIREC chairman Skip Newberg observed. Without any requirement to do so, four out of five CCIMs join them. And now there are 58 chapters.

The more CCIMs there are, the more non-educational needs there are to meet, supporters of the professional society model point out. The 11 regions function as organizational tiers between Council and chapters. Thus regionalization makes it possible to meet chapter's needs -- without shorting the educational program, needless to say.

This would never do. As we said at the start of this chapter, CCIM is hugely successful. Its parent body, CIREC, may be on its way to new things; but CCIM has arrived. If it hadn't CIREC would not be the transitional stage it is in today.

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