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November 21, 2019

Salt of the Earth

By Jonathan Zimmerman

As we approach Thanksgiving 2019, it is the most appropriate time of year to express a hearty appreciation for all of the talented individuals who truly are responsible for ensuring the smooth daily operation of the many office buildings throughout the Loop and beyond. To the building engineers, maintenance teams, custodians, security staff, tenant service coordinators and property managers – you all are truly the unsung heroes of commercial real estate.

When either taking over a new listing (as a leasing agent) or moving into a building (as a tenant), the very first task should be to make friends with the engineers. No one is more helpful and important when it comes to learning about the ins-and-outs of a property, whether it be from a mechanical standpoint and just getting the all-important gossip about particular tenants when it comes time to discuss a lease renewal. Engineers are truly the eyes and ears of the operation. Locked out of your suite? An engineer is there to save the day! Need help hanging a picture or fixing a broken chair? The engineer has that covered, no problem at all. It is easy to take for granted the fact that our offices are properly heated and cooled each day and everything is functioning properly, from the lights and outlets to the toilets. Without the engineering staff, none of this would be possible.

To the custodians and cleaning staff, thank you for making sure our trash cans are empty each morning, all of the crumbs from the mid-afternoon granola bar snack are vacuumed off the rug and the bathrooms are cleaned and well stocked with the necessary supplies. We appreciate the snow being shoveled and sidewalks coated with salt, the lobbies being kept tidy and all fingerprints being removed from the glass doors so the building presents well during a showing. We all know how important a first impression is and the cleaning staff plays a critical role in helping the cause.

To the lobby security guards and attendants, we are grateful to you for not just keeping our buildings safe, but also for the morning salutation when we stagger in the door still half asleep. It is like putting on a comfortable pair of old slippers to be greeted by name and asked about the family and how business is going. The mutual complaints about how pathetic the Chicago sports scene is right now is also part of the ritual. The small talk is just the right medicine for taking our minds off the stressful events of the day, for a few minutes anyway.

Last but certainly not least, to the property managers, thanks for being on call 24-hours per day, 7-days per week and coordinating all of the teams that make the buildings go. If there is a problem at 2:00 AM, the manager is on standby ready for action. Whenever anything goes wrong, the manager is there to accept the blame, even when he or she had absolutely nothing to do with the issue whatsoever. When things do go well, as they do the majority of the time, there is never any credit given. It is simply how things are supposed to be. This can be a thankless job at times, but in this space today, a large helping of well-deserved credit is hereby given.

On behalf of all tenants and brokers, thank you. There is no better way to pay tribute than by quoting two of the great philosophers of our time, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards:

Let’s drink to the hard-working people
Let’s drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!