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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With SIOR CEO Tom McCormick

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Commercial real estate veteran Tom McCormick in August was named CEO of the Society of Office and Industrial Realtors, a worldwide association for the commercial real estate industry.

Established in 1941, SIOR now has 48 chapters with nearly 3,200 members in over 685 cities and 35 countries. McCormick, based in Irvine, California, earned his SIOR designation in 1985 and held multiple leadership roles within the organization before being named CEO this year. 

McCormick previously worked as senior vice president for Rockefeller Group International, where he spent 13 years. He began his commercial real estate career with Coldwell Banker Commercial in 1981 and has also worked at Colliers Macaulay Nicolls and Panattoni Development Co

SIOR CEO Tom McCormick and NAI James Hanson Chairman Peter Hanson, a past president of SIOR

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

McCormick: I am the chief executive officer of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, an organization which represents the world's elite in industrial and office brokerage. As our industry enters an exciting and unprecedented period of evolution, SIOR is looking to the future, and my goal in this new role is to guide our organization in pursuit of that vision. I am the first SIOR designee to hold an executive position within the organization. To put it simply, I manage driven, highly engaged members of the leading office and industrial real estate association. Our members receive the SIOR designation because they demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and knowledge in the industry, and it is my job to serve as a solid mentor and role model for our members, staff and the industry as a whole.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

McCormick: I would either serve in the military, or I would be a priest. I have found similar values in religion that United States warriors abide by: protecting freedom, standing up for the underdog and fending off those who have nothing to offer but oppression. These are principles I have always embraced and strongly support.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

McCormick: I went to high school in Alaska and had the Sunday newspaper route. The paper always had to be delivered, no matter the forecast. This meant that rain or snow, no matter how miserable, I had to get on my bicycle and do what was expected of me. Waking up every morning and leaving my warm bed to endure the freezing cold taught me an incredibly invaluable lesson. I learned the importance of following through on a task, no matter how grueling the environment. This job was taxing as a teenager, but it taught me the importance of persevering.

Bisnow: What was your first big deal?

McCormick: My first big deal was made possible through SIOR. I received a referral from a fellow SIOR member for a Sacramento property that expanded more than 40 acres. Sealing that deal was an incredible experience and fortified my belief in just how important it is to be a part of a network of the industry’s top professionals.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

McCormick: Chris Bradford’s quote on failure strongly resonates with me. He says, “There is no failure except in no longer trying,” and I believe I fail at every deal I don’t make. Taking risks may not always result in the outcome you hoped for, but you can always leave each experience with new outlooks and lessons to guide you towards future successes. Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Bisnow: If you could change one thing about the commercial real estate industry, what would it be?

McCormick: We need more SIORs out there. Our professional and ethical standards set us apart in a highly competitive industry. The SIOR designation represents so much in terms of qualifying education and experience. It’s more than a designation, it’s a symbol of excellence. We put clients at the center of our work and brokers who don’t hold the designation have a more difficult challenge in proving their expertise.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

McCormick: When people don’t keep their word. I find great disappointment in someone who agrees to do something and then doesn’t follow through. I would much rather someone tell me “no” rather than making a promise they can’t keep or have no intention of keeping. Following through and keeping your word is an important quality in every aspect of life.

SIOR CEO Tom McCormick (center) at a conference

Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?

McCormick: Dave Werner and Irv Rios helped me forge my path in the real estate industry. Without their guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Irv, specifically, is who influenced me to join SIOR. At the time, he was one of only four SIORs in Sacramento.

Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever received?

McCormick: The best advice I’ve ever gotten was from Irv Rios who first suggested I join SIOR. I became involved with SIOR early in my career, because I saw it as an opportunity to become an elite member of the commercial real estate industry. After decades of watching membership grow and our members succeed, SIOR’s growth is a testament to that decision. As for bad advice, when I was first starting out as a broker, a colleague warned me about a property, saying it wasn’t worth the effort. I took my shot at it and sold the property. Not trying — that’s the worst thing you can do. There is always reward in risk.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

McCormick: I have the good fortune and support to be able to fully commit myself to work. I am a self-described workaholic and pour most of my energy into my trade. Discussing all things concerning the real estate industry is how I self-indulge.

Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

McCormick: Sapori in Newport Beach, California. My favorite item on the menu is the spaghetti with meat sauce.

Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?

McCormick: I’d tell him to use more SIORs in his real estate business and leasing. When you hire a SIOR, you are represented by a respected and highly ethical broker of the highest expertise to successfully execute your transaction, and who wouldn’t want that?

SIOR CEO Tom McCormick (right) posing with colleagues

Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?

McCormick: I had another career before becoming a broker and the biggest risk I’ve ever taken is leaving that behind to try my hand at the real estate business. I was married with two young children and it was quite the big leap with no safety net to catch me if I failed. Every day I feel grateful for my younger self taking that risk to change the trajectory of my own life and my family’s lives.

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?

McCormick: My favorite place to visit is Lake Tahoe. I enjoy chilling by the water and taking time to clear my head. Lake Tahoe has long been a favorite spot of mine to relax and reflect outside of the city. It is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the United States and has always provided me with a sense of sereneness.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

McCormick: I am constantly flying across the country for this new role, and as of late, the stresses of travel have been keeping me up.

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

McCormick: I have two main passions: religion and service to this country. I go to church every single day and serve on the board of directors of the San Diego chapter of the United Service Organizations (USO). I believe both of these passions have helped steer me in life and made me the man I am today.