Real Estate Investors Association of Greater Cincinnati

A Little REIA History
written January 1994
by former REIA President Tom Pieratt

The roots of the Real Estate Investors Association go back to October 1973 when Clarence Jones asked Lou Crawford to help bring together the graduates of the just concluded Lowry-Nickerson Real Estate Investment Seminar to form a local group of investors. Clarence became the President and Program Chairman and Lou collected the money and mailed out the meeting notices.

From the outset, the group called itself the REAL ESTATE INVESTORS ASSOCIATION, but it wasn't until 1977 that "REIA" came into common usage. Some might argue that the concept of an investors* group predates 1973, based upon the fact that a handful of investors had already been holding monthly luncheon meetings for a year or so. The concept behind such meetings is still relevant : the availability of supplies at less than retail, and hiring competent but inexpensive workers. Most of this luncheon group attended the Lowry-Nickerson Seminar and joined the fledgling association. For the first fourteen months of existence the group met once a month, usually in the basement of the First National Bank (now Star Bank) on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton.

But, in late 1974 the group prevailed upon Clarence Jones to reteach, interpret, and localize the material in the Lowry-Nickerson Seminar at a slower pace, versus the virtual nonstop Friday evening through Sunday night seminar pace. At this point, in an effort to get more information faster, the membership voted to have two meetings per month, and REIA had to seek other meeting facilities for the second meeting each month. As part of this agreement, Clarence bought a number of books on investing, and this collection became the first REIA Lending Library. In those days there were virtually no audio tapes available on the subject of real estate, and the Lowry-Nickerson and the Metz Seminars were just about the only seminars available anywhere. (It is said that Lowry-Nickerson put Metz out of business by always scheduling their seminar in the same city a week or so before the Metz Seminar.) The first cassette tapes, which featured the various sessions for developers and owners at an annual convention called Multi Housing World, were added to the REIA Library in the late 70's. Since then the library has expanded to become one of the largest real estate investing libraries in the country.

In August 1975 member Bob Kelly felt that more members needed to become involved in the operation of REIA in order for it to be successful, and formed an Interim Board of Trustees to help guide REIA's future growth. As a result, REAL ESTATE INVESTORS ASSOCIATION OF CINCINNATI was incorporated as a nonprofit educational corporation in January 1976, and the first set of Trustees and Officers were elected shortly thereafter. The real motive behind this "overthrow" of the Jones/Crawford regime is suspect, but there is no question that the Articles of Incorporation and By-laws provided an excellent road map which guided REIA on to far greater heights than anyone at that time could have possibly imagined. The newly elected officers and trustees commissioned a small metal pyramid (like the one which appears on the newsletter) and formally presented it to Clarence Jones in early 1976 in recognition of his efforts as the Founder and initial leader of the Real Estate Investor's Association.

From a membership of 64 in January 1974 (a few months after its beginning), REIA has experienced steady growth until reaching an all-time high of 439 members in October 1989, as this is written. A list of all the people who had ever joined REIA would surely total more than 2,000! But many join only to find that being an investor requires some work and some risk, and is not the path to instant wealth, and so they drift off in search of other rainbows. Many others, of course, credit their membership in REIA as their best support in attaining their goals, as witnessed by their strong response in fighting to keep REIA independent when another association unsuccessfully attempted to absorb REIA in 1983.

As of September 1993 Clarence Jones and Clinton & Mary Boyd are the only current members who were among the initial group who formed REIA in late 1973. Three additional members, Bob Kistler, Tom Pieratt, and Ed Buehler are all that remain from the 1976 membership roster and two of these, Bob Kistler and Tom Pieratt, served as members of the Interim Board of Trustees in late 1975. The first issue of the newsletter, THE INVESTOR, appeared in October 1975. It and succeeding issues, featured a "cut and paste" collection of real estate related articles from other sources and were simply reprinted amid Association related notes and memos. These issues ranged from one to as many as ten pages. THE INVESTOR tended to be a political football for the first year or so, but then evolved into the present four page format, with occasional inserts, with articles written by and for local investor members. Various people edited it for the first few years and then Tom Pieratt wrote the newsletter for almost ten years until mid 1987. At that time Alan Underhill took it over until mid 1992. For the next year and a half Joe Steele was the editor. Now we would like to welcome Larry Benken is our current editor.

From the start, REIA meetings have taken a no-nonsense approach, and it was made clear that the three-hour format would NOT be cluttered with cocktails, dinner, etc. In most cases, the speaker and/or the members have been ready to call it quits by 10:00 P.M., but over the years there have been instances where speakers have talked on until 10:30 or later with some members still glued to their seats! A speaker at REIA has always had the opportunity to make his/her wares/services known to the members, although this has become much more prevalent with the advent of the "national speakers" selling their books and tapes to finance their trip to Cincinnati. (Imagine, if you will, that virtually all meetings prior to the mid 80's featured speakers from the local area; it was a rare treat when someone would come to town simply to talk to REIA for a regular meeting! The only requirement has been that the speaker had to provide information on his subject, which members could effectively utilize even if they never had any additional contact with that speaker and/or his products or services. By and large, the twice a month meetings continue to provide a rich learning experience for most members – and a great review for the rest!

Meeting facilities have always been a deep concern for REIA officials, from the early days in the basement of First National Bank, Lloyd Library downtown, etc. In early 1976, REIA met for three months in the basement of Frisch's in Norwood at the firm's Management Training Center, thus giving the members their first taste of not having to stack tables and chairs or to police up the area at the end of the meeting. In the spring of 1976 the group began meeting at the Imperial House North, remaining there until moving to Quality Hotel Central in September 1980, where we stayed until December 1989. In January 1990 we moved to the Rockdale Temple where we stayed until September 1993. In October 1993, we began meeting at the Adath Israel Synagogue, where we currently meet. Over the years efforts have been made to find a more permanent home which might be purchased by either REIA or individual members for REIA.

In 1984 REIA groups from several Ohio cities formed a statewide association (OREIA) which has benefited REIA members many ways but most notably by its annual convention. Over these years many members have given huge amounts of their time and talents in order to keep REIA moving forward with new ideas and new member services. As a result REIA is acclaimed by many nationally oriented investors as one of the most successful real estate investing groups in the country in the late 1980's – despite the fact that hundreds of such groups all across the country have become extinct or struggle to exist with depleted membership rolls. The only logical explanation of such success is that REIA continues to offer a tremendous array of services to real estate investors, and each year a few more members come forward to indicate a willingness to help repay the Association for all of the benefits which they have received. Among the many hard working members over the years are the following PAST REIA PRESIDENTS:

  • 10/73 to 09/75 Clarence Jones   2000 Andy Schlotterbeck
    09/75 to 01/76 Robert Kelly   2001 Andy Schlotterbeck
    1976 Herman Bryant   2002 Elissa Miller
    1977 John Graham   2003 Elissa Miller
    1979 Thomas Pieratt   2003 Steve Schmid
    1980 Thomas Pieratt   2004 Steve Schmid
    1980 John Stalnaker   2005 Ray  Nichols
    1981 Alan Underhill   2006 Ray  Nichols
    1982 Alan Underhill   2007 Jerry Fink
    1983 John Vogel   2008 Jerry Fink
    1984 Joanne Leonard   2009 Tim Jones
    1985 Howard Winkle   2010 Jim Shapiro
    1986 Steve Uible   2011 Jim Shapiro
    1987 Bill Hall   2012 Vena Jones-Cox
    1988 Harry Lehman   2013 Diana Easley
    1989 Chuck Vonderhaar 2014 Diana Easley
    1990 Chuck Vonderhaar 2015 Steve Packo
    1991 Marsha Ogletree   2016 Anita Johnson
    1992 Joe Steele   2017 Anita Johnson
    1993 Paul Berning   2018 Scott Ellsworth
    1994 Paul Berning   2019 Scott Ellsworth
    1995 Dave Gee   2020 Felicia Bell
    1996 Vena Jones-Cox   2021 Michelle Clayton
    1997 Bob Dressman   2022 Edwin Louis
    1998 Dave Gee   2023 Edwin Louis
    1999 Deb McMillan        

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