“The backbone of a real estate board”

thismonth0908AUGUST 2009 — Today they are called Association Executives, but in 1914 they were called Secretaries. Then as now they were the backbones of their local REALTOR® associations.

The National Association of REALTORS® was only six years old when Milwaukee REALTOR® R. Bruce Douglas gave a speech that was hailed as a classic, “The Backbone of a Real Estate Board.” It was published in the National Real Estate Journal in August 1914.

“A board composed of men of character, standing before a public which has been compelled to acknowledge their superior qualities is in position to demand recognition and to compel respect,” Douglas said. “But while the favorable public opinion is a valuable asset it is not the thing that makes the machine go.

“Where is the backbone of a Real Estate Board? Your secretary if he be made of the right material, has enthusiasm, power and ability…he sees and meets the people who have business with your Board. He voices your affairs every day in the year. He handles the little things and…you know it is the little things that count.”

Douglas was an NAR founder and Vice President. While he was national Secretary in 1912 he helped organize the first Secretaries’ Conference (known as the AE Institute today) at the national convention in Louisville.

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