Brief History of IFMA
In the early 1970s, two significant, simultaneous events helped set the evolutionary course of facility management. First, the use of independent, freestanding dividing screens in the office environment –– popularized in the 1960s –– gradually faded in favor of today’s increasingly sophisticated systems furniture, commonly known as “cubicles.” Next, the introduction of the computer terminal into the workstation challenged facility managers to solve computer, wiring, lighting, acoustic and territory problems. The office scene was becoming more complex and the facility manager needed guidance.
At the time, many facility professionals were members of other international organizations, but those groups could not supply the information needed to manage the offices of the future. The first step toward the formation of a more specialized organization occurred in December 1978 when Herman Miller Research Corp. hosted a conference, “Facility Influence on Productivity,” in Ann Arbor, Mich.
This conference was the meeting place for the three founders of IFMA. George Graves of Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., Charles Hitch of Manufacturer’s Bank in Detroit and David Armstrong of Michigan State University voiced a need for an organization comprised of facility professionals from private industry.
In May 1980, Graves hosted a meeting in Houston to establish a formal organizational base for a facility management association. By the end of the meeting, a new organization known as the National Facility Management Association (NFMA) had a constitution, bylaws, temporary officers and plans to expand nationally.
At the first annual meeting of NFMA in October 1980, there were 47 participants — 25 were direct members of the association. The attendees from Houston helped establish the first chapter and committed to host the second annual national conference. Shortly after the 1981 conference, the name was changed to the International Facility Management Association to accommodate a large Canadian membership. The growth of the new organization began to accelerate.
Today, IFMA serves more than 19,000 members in 60 countries with 125 chapters. The association’s structure of 16 councils serves the vertical and specialized interests of those who manage educational and cultural institutions, manufacturing and petrochemical plants, research and development laboratories, financial centers, call centers, corporate headquarters, utilities and health care facilities –– as well as those who focus on environmental health and safety concerns, computer applications and real estate issues.
To date, 3,200 Certified Facility Managers have been designated through IFMA’s certification program — an examination designed to test skills and knowledge in eight core competencies.
IFMA’s annual World Workplace Conference & Expo event and its counterpart conferences, World Workplace-Europe and the Asian Facility Management Conferences, attract thousands of attendees each year and continue to elevate the importance of the facility manager worldwide.